- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2000

Sizzling responses to 'Fire Kenneth Bacon'

The lawlessness and cynicism of the Clinton-Gore administration seem to know no bounds, as your April 11 editorial "Fire Kenneth Bacon" indicates. If anything could be more reprehensible than the Clinton-Gore pattern of crimes against the privacy of Reagan-Bush political appointees, it would be prosecutors' failure to punish the criminals.

It's worth remembering that those patterns did not begin with Kenneth Bacon's Privacy Act violation, nor even with the illegal gathering of FBI files on the Reagan-Bush White House staff. Way back in 1993, the Clinton-Gore "White House liaison" (that is, political patronage office) in the State Department illegally gathered confidential files on more than 150 State Department political appointees from the Bush administration. The Clinton-Gore operatives were caught disseminating some embarrassing information from those files to Al Kamen of The Washington Post. The State Department's inspector general recommended criminal prosecutions to the Justice Department, but Attorney General Janet Reno refused to prosecute and also spurned congressional calls to appoint an independent counsel.

Having been a Reagan-Bush political appointee in both the State Department and the White House and having had my FBI background-investigation file used illegally by the Clinton White House, I had a personal interest in the State Department case. I made a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department asking for the names of the victims of 1993 Privacy Act violations, seeking to determine whether I was among those persons. The State Department refused to give me the information even the information about whether my own confidential files had been violated explaining with Clintonesque illogic that if it were to do so, that would violate the Privacy Act.

JOSEPH P. DUGGAN

Washington

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Thank you for the well-written and reasonable assertion that Kenneth Bacon and his aide, Clifford Bernath, should be fired from the Pentagon. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen certainly must know how this looks to people who have watched the Clintons get away with everything. It is more of the same.

How can Mr. Cohen sit by and watch these crimes in his own department and not insist that something be done? Most of us know that the Justice Department is corrupt and that Attorney General Janet Reno cannot be trusted, but Mr. Cohen should stand up and be counted. Mr. Bacon and Mr. Bernath should be fired.

MARTHA N. COPENHAVER

Tryon, N.C.

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When I read the editorial on firing Kenneth Bacon, I wondered why you passed up the opportunity to remind your readers that it was candidate Bill Clinton who, in 1992, upon learning that someone in the Bush White House had looked at his passport file not given it to a reporter, just looked at it indignantly thundered that if anybody did that in his administration, that person would be fired the next day.

C.R. MELTON

Arlington

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Your editorial on Kenneth Bacon's blatant violation of privacy laws in the case of Linda Tripp is on point. This case is simply another example of a corrupt Justice Department that has no intention of challenging the administration in favor of the rule of law.

What is of particular concern is the continued inaction and oblivious behavior on the part of Republican congressional leaders. It may take some backbone to defend the rule of law, but it appears that we have only invertebrates for Republican leaders. We need statesmen, not politicians.

CHARLES W. FAUST

San Ramon, Calif.

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In response to "Fire Kenneth Bacon," are you saying that had Mr. Bacon and Clifford Bernath provided the Linda Tripp material to The Washington Times instead of Jane Mayer of New Yorker magazine, you would not have used it for your own coverage of her role in Monicagate? The problem with your editorial is that it takes no honest position because it does not allude to journalistic responsibility.

DON CARR

Woodbridge, Va.

Student backs mandatory summer reading

Having read the article "Schools might cut summer reading" (Metropolitan, April 6), I have two opinions on this. If the children don't read during the summer, when will they? Reading is so much better than watching TV. If you look at the grades of students who read and students who don't read, the grades of the children who read will be much higher than those of the nonreaders. Also, the vocabulary growth is incredible.

Another thing is that the students who read have better background information about everything. I also know from experience that if summer reading were voluntary, no one would do it. If I had the choice, I probably wouldn't be doing it, and I am a semiactive reader. Who wouldn't rather be outside? But I do finish my summer reading because I know that the next school year will be even harder than the last.

In all, I think summer reading should be mandatory.

MATTHEW WOOTERS

Silver Spring

Matthew Wooters is a seventh-grader.

How certain music inspires violence in our youths

Regarding the April 12 article "Reaction to violence punishes all youths," Americans are still trying to do something about youth violence, even as they observe the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. But action requires understanding.

Instead of focusing on a particular weapon that some youths use, we should figure out why those youths are violent in the first place. Though popular entertainment is not the sole cause of youth violence, it makes a substantial contribution. Everyone who can influence young people must take more seriously the things that shape their lives.

What we consume affects what we do. After Kayla Rolland, 6, was killed by another child in a Michigan school in March, Newsweek suggested that parents monitor what their children watch on television. On April 3, Court TV's "Crime Stories" examined the negative effects of watching professional wrestling. Hundreds of studies confirm our own experience that, as the American Academy of Pediatrics puts it, "[T]here is a cause-and-effect relationship between media violence and real-life violence. This link is undeniable and uncontestable."

For youths, music is an even more powerful influence than television. A November 1999 Kaiser Family Foundation study documented that while television decreases as a proportion of media consumption from early childhood to the teen years, audio media (that is, music) doubles.

A 1999 report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy reveals that teen-agers "name music listening as their most preferred non-school activity." They often do so for a reason. Two prominent researchers in this field found that "one of the most important reasons cited by adolescents for seeking exposure to popular music is to learn about their social world."

What do they learn? From the lyrics of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold learned to "hate every [expletive deleted] that's in your way" and that the "next [expletive deleted] gonna get my metal." They learned: "I've looked ahead and saw a world that's dead, I guess I am too." They learned: "I'm dying, I hope you're dying too."

Harris and Klebold acted out what they consumed. So did Kip Kinkel in Springfield, Ore., Andrew Wurst in Edinboro, Pa., Luke Woodham in Pearl, Miss. and many others. They all acted out the same message of anger, violence and revenge consumed from the same artist.

The music industry claims that music does not affect anyone. Yet hospitals use music to enhance the healing process, the profession of music therapy expands steadily, and listening to music is the world's most popular way to relieve stress because music affects people. Bands such as Rage Against the Machine use music to promote a political agenda because it, and the music industry, makes mega-profits because music is so powerful.

No one believes the music industry's claim, and the industry itself knows it's lying.

Others say many consumers of violence are not violent. Many smokers do not get cancer, either. By the way, cigarette companies once claimed their product did not affect anyone sound familiar?

THOMAS L. JIPPING

Director

Center for Law & Democracy

Free Congress Foundation

Washington

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