A Month Has Passed And Senator Cantwell Still Hasn’t Answered Constituents’ Hard Questions

On December 9, 2009 five well-informed constituents of US Senator Marie Cantwell sent her an Open Letter.

It asked some questions about the reasoning behind her December 4th press release on the verdict in Meredith’s case.

The public release of this letter to Maria Cantwell garnered international attention, and it was quoted-from in various stories and reports published in Europe..

On December 10, a Cantwell Senate-office staff member in Washington DC, John Diamond, provided the one and only direct response to inquiries about it.

Mr Diamond claimed “Our staff has checked every possible in-box and not turned up the letter. We get lots of mail and email sent through to us every day, so I don’t know what the problem was. We now have your letter so it’s a mute point. We will get back to you.”

Rather bizarrely, on December 11th, Mr. Diamond then forwarded to the authors of the Open Letter a Knox/Mellas Family Press Release. It was issued by the paid Seattle PR man David Marriott, and Ms Cantwell’s office seemed to be endorsing it.

The release stated among other things, “We would like to publicly thank Senator Maria Cantwell for her support of Amanda, support of the family, and her continued work on our behalf.” 

No other response has ever been received by the authors of that Open Letter, other than one auto-reply email from Mr. Diamond saying, “I will be out of the office through Labor Day.” (Labor Day is the first Monday in September, then a full nine months away.)

On December 15th the Seattle PI’s Andrea Vogt in her story “The debate continues over Knox’s guilt”  reported that instead of repeating the harsh complaints of her press release, Cantwell’s spokesperson Katharine Lister was now saying this:

“Senator Cantwell believes that Amanda Knox deserved a fair trial, and now deserves a fair appeal by an impartial tribunal; all in keeping with the Council of Europe and the European Union’s treaties to which Italy has long been a signatory. While she certainly understands that the legal system and practice in Italy is different than in the U.S., she believes it is the responsibility of the U.S. government to press for fair treatment for any U.S. citizen facing legal jeopardy overseas. She will continue to press to ensure that Amanda gets a fair appeal, by an impartial tribunal.”

On December 24, 2009 the following new inquiry was sent to Senator Cantwell, reiterating the concerns of the original letter and a desire for a response from Senator Cantwell, and repeating the request to meet with Senator Cantwell herself or a senior member of her staff. 

To this letter Senator Cantwell’s Seattle area constituents are still awaiting her reply more than two weeks later.

Dear Senator Cantwell:

Last December we submitted an Open Letter and had some contact with John Diamond regarding your press release concerning the Amanda Knox guilty verdict in Italy for the murder of Meredith Kercher.  We have yet to receive a response other than an email from Mr. Diamond simply forwarding a press release from the Knox/Mellas Family. Five of your Seattle area constituents authored that Open Letter to question the reasoning behind statements made in your press release.

We did not feel as though we were well represented by that press release and are still awaiting a response to the issues we raised, including a request to meet with your Chief of Staff.  Now that the holiday break is upon us I think it’s a great time to revisit these issues since we haven’t seen any additional press releases from your office and are left wondering if the situation has progressed or if you have adjusted your position on the issue of the Amanda Knox guilty verdict in light of ongoing events and news coverage.

As a recap, here are the key points from your press release and a few of our questions regarding the rationale behind your points:

1. “I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.”

If you are requesting a full briefing on the principles of Italian justice it seems that there are far better places to ask than in what might be construed as a xenophobic press release. To our eye, you seem to be suggesting that anti-Americanism in Italy is a serious ongoing problem and I am wondering what evidence you have to support this perception and, specifically, how it would apply to the Amanda Knox (American) and Raffaele Sollecito (Italian) murder trial.

2. “The prosecution did not present enough evidence for an impartial jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Knox was guilty.”

How can you justify making such a statement?  You seem to be indicating here that you were following the case quite closely, but elsewhere you indicate that you weren’t.  Do you state this as an opinion or as a fact?  I am concerned because Curt Knox and Edda Mellas have been charged with defamation by the Italians for making similar unfounded accusations against the Italian justice system.

3.“Italian jurors were not sequestered and were allowed to view highly negative news coverage about Ms. Knox.”

What special knowledge do you have to make an informed critique of the Italian justice system? Our impression, having closely followed of the murder trial for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, was that the jury behaved honorably and was somewhat restrained and lenient in issuing their ruling. We expect to find some justification for this impression in the lengthy and detailed summary of findings that the court will issue within 90 days of the ruling.

Regarding press coverage, our personal observation is that the media battle waged by the Knox family and David Marriott was, in fact, very effective in highlighting the concerns of the Knox family in outlets around the world, to the extreme point that whatever Curt Knox and Edda Mellas have to say about the murder case is reported verbatim, without question or verification.  We also believe that media coverage during the lengthy trial itself focused heavily on the prospect of an “innocent” Amanda Knox and the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case.

4.“Other flaws in the Italian justice system on display in this case included the harsh treatment of Ms. Knox following her arrest; negligent handling of evidence by investigators; and pending charges of misconduct against one of the prosecutors stemming from another murder trial.”

What specific systemic flaws are you referring to here, and in comparison to what system?  We’re wondering what your specific recommendations would be to the Italian Foreign Minister and where you will find the time to research and author them. 

While we’ve seen the claims of harsh treatment and abuse in the media we are unable to verify any of these allegations.  We have noticed, however, that Amanda Knox has been charged with and investigated for making false allegations, and convicted in the instance of accusations made against her former employer Patrick Lumumba. Can you clearly detail any specific incident of harsh treatment Amanda Knox received, either before or following her arrest? 

Can you provide specific examples of the negligent handling of evidence that clearly compromised Amanda Knox’s right to a fair trial? We have followed this case closely from the beginning and while certain investigative elements could have been better handled we are not aware of anything suggesting that the Italians are fundamentally incapable of properly documenting and evaluating a crime scene, or conducting a fully “fair trial” for that matter.

In addition, we would appreciate a detailed description of your understanding of the alleged charges against prosecutor Giuliano Mignini and the relevant connection you are trying to make between that legal proceeding and the Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito murder trial.

In regards to Amanda Knox, Mignini was one of two prosecutors in a case that involved the coordination of a variety of completely separate entities in Italian law enforcement and legal systems.  According to our understanding of Italian legal processes, the charge against Mignini relating to the other murder trial case seems somewhat routine, rather insignificant, and could very well be dismissed later this month.

5.“I will be conveying my concerns to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

What was Secretary Clinton’s response to you?  It has been our understanding that the US State Department and US Embassy in Rome have been following this case from the beginning, have visited Amanda Knox in prison, and have attended court sessions.

We’re wondering what compelled you to insert yourself so publicly into an international situation when your press release gives the strong indication that you were not fully briefed before issuing it and appear to know very little about what has actually been going on with the case.

In the sole interest of providing you with our valid and informed perspective, we remain very interested in meeting with you and/or your Chief of Staff to discuss these issues in detail and share the facts as we understand them.  As your concerned constituents, please us know if this will soon be possible.

[signed by five constituents in the original]

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Excellent post! I am waiting with bated breath to see what her responses will be. She is YOUR elected politician, she MUST answer. Well done Seattle!

Posted by TT on 01/08/10 at 10:02 PM | #

I’m from Seattle and follow politics religously. I haven’t heard a peep about this from Cantwell since the original comments.

I think we have another John Q. Kelly on our hands here. Somebody at FOA pulled the wool over her eyes and now she’s embarrassed by the whole debacle.

Posted by stevema14420 on 01/09/10 at 12:24 AM | #

I think that Cantwell’s original statement was just grandstanding so as to garner more votes for the next election.  Perhaps it’s occurred to her that she better keep on the down-low going forward as her lip-service backfired and will likely keep her from getting re-elected.

We have also not heard any more gas from Donald Trump since he called for Americans to boycott Italy and Italian goods.  Perhaps he and Cantwell decided that in light of the bad press they got that they ought to at least read up on the evidence before shooting their mouths off any further in Knox’s behalf.

Posted by Mo-in-Mass.,USA on 01/09/10 at 12:52 AM | #

I noticed early that Hillary Clinton’s response to the quick labiabaloo, er, ballyhaloo, I mean, hullabaloo over the guilty verdict was akin to a mother having to address the whinier of two combative siblings. Ever complain about a brother or sister only to get your own ass kicked because you were annoying?

I sensed an annoyed Clinton. Instead of echoing the call, she put the onus on those complaining about the trial to step forward with legitimate concerns. I’ll guess she made it halfway through the first meeting before walking out, and the dominoes fell. If the State Department wasn’t up to speed on the trial, than who would be? And what the hell was Cantwell’s soggy Seattle tree house going to bring to the State Department’s marble table that would shed any light on what Clinton already knew, forwards and backwards.

It probably wasn’t a sharp-eyed intern at Cantwell’s office who noticed the problem, and warned her with a 3 a.m. phone call. More than likely it was a call from very high up, barking polite obscenities about Cantwell’s embarrassing blunder.

This will be swept under the rug, and we will be hearing very slight whimpers from Cantwell, if anything. FOA will have to get more grass roots - car washes, bake sales, maybe if they’re lucky a KING 5 Sunday afternoon telethon, because the big picture is already over it. And I am interested to see exactly how cozy Cantwell’s office will be with David Marriott.

Posted by Danusunt on 01/09/10 at 01:35 AM | #

float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Posted by Professor Snape on 01/09/10 at 10:20 AM | #


Danusant, you said it: swept under the rug. That’s it. That’ll be the end of Cantwell’s interest. The letter sent to her and signed by 5 followers of the Knox case had more facts than her office could dispute. Well done, letter writers, you made a lot of effort to organize all the details and draft a clear, strong letter like that.

Posted by Hopeful on 01/09/10 at 03:38 PM | #

From the far-away Antipodes come these words of solidarity and and admiration of the citizens who have so neatly challenged their elected senator,Ms Marie Cantwell, to justify her actions in regard to trhe Knox case in the sovereign European state of Italy.

Ms Cantwell, you are not obliged to live up to your name(*see below!)

Have the courage of your convictions: answer the questions, please.


1  /kænt/ Pronunciation [kant] noun
1.    insincere, esp. conventional expressions of enthusiasm for high ideals, goodness, or piety.
2.    the private language of the underworld.
3.    the phraseology peculiar to a particular class, party, profession, etc.: the cant of the fashion industry.
4.    whining or singsong speech, esp. of beggars.
–verb (used without object)
5.    to talk hypocritically.
6.    to speak in the whining or singsong tone of a beggar; beg.
1495–1505; < L base cant- in cantus song, canticus singsong, etc., whence OE cantere singer, cantic song; see chant

Related forms:
cantâ‹…ingâ‹…ly, adverb

1. hypocrisy, sham, pretense, humbug.


Posted by Tiziano on 01/09/10 at 11:44 PM | #

To understand why Senator Cantwell of my state (WA )injected herself into the Italian slur campaign by Knox’s PR firm, one only need google ‘Gogerty Marriott,Maria Cantwell’.

The firm virtually owns her with tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

They also have an incestuous relationship with Seattle media hacks having backgrounds in Seattle TV and with Peter Van Sant of CBS who began his career in the greater Seattle market.

Posted by jennifer on 01/10/10 at 03:23 AM | #

She should “re-cant” her comments…... 😊

Posted by Mo-in-Mass.,USA on 01/10/10 at 08:00 AM | #

I figured that Cantwell was probably getting funds for her to get involved. Yet, it seems like they’re in a clique from this state. According to what I’ve read, Judge Heavey’s daughter went to Seattle Prep with Amanda, and asked her dad to get involved.

I’ve also read that Mrs. Bremner was involved in the defense of Mary kay Letourneau case. The teacher who had sex with her 12-year-old student, resulting in a $3.5 Million settlement, I “think” it was called a child sex-rape case.  Further reports that they are now friends, http://www.komonews.com/stories/17258.htm  ***this was a national news story, it is alleged Ms. Letourneau was married with kids, yet, had an affair with her 12-year-old grade school student, eventually resulting in prison term because she allegedly wouldn’t stay away from the kid and ended up pregnant by the kid.

Wow!!! That’s all I can say! Wow!!! Wow, wow, wow!!!

Posted by annjell on 01/10/10 at 06:48 PM | #

Wow!!!!!!! What a letter. Absolutely amazing. With reference to Professor Snape’s boxing reference - all I can add is Joe Louis’, the ” Brown Bombers ” saying to his opponents ” You can run, but you can’t hide “.

Well I think all Maria Cantwell can do is ” run and hide ” as best she can.  Cudos to Highly - Concerned Washington - State Voters, and all involved:+). Brilliant!!!!!

Posted by Paddy5000 on 01/12/10 at 05:52 PM | #
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