- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Pros and cons about Elian and Clinton 'legacy'

As a retired Metropolitan Police Department officer and someone who has voted for every Republican presidential nominee since Barry Goldwater, I hold the Democratic Party and the Clinton administration in contempt. I believe it is natural and right for the Republican Party to take action against them when the opportunity presents itself. I do not think, however, the Elian Gonzalez situation is one of them.

The rights of a good father should never be attacked, especially by Republicans. I hope the GOP leadership in Congress gracefully backs away from that position and decides to quickly end hearings. There will be ample opportunity to take action against those in violation of the law.

As for retrieving Elian from a distant group of relatives who were in violation of the law, in a hostile environment such as the one that existed, I feel as a former law enforcement officer that it would have been madness to enter into such an action without using every protective tool available to complete the job quickly and safely.

There is no way of knowing what type of weapons might be inside a locked home. The officers who retrieved Elian did it right, and the cause was right because the rights of a good father could never be matched by the Miami relatives, and the thought that Elian could be mature enough to decide what country he wants to remain in is preposterous.

This is a message to my party: Please back off on this one and prepare for other opportunities to get the Democrats.

DAVID LONG

Manassas

m

I am greatly disturbed that a majority of fellow Americans approve of the heavy-handed tactics employed by the federal government to remove Elian Gonzalez from his relatives' home in Miami. Regardless of how one feels about where Elian should grow up or who should raise him, Americans need to reflect on the methods used by our government in this matter.

No one in the Miami home was arrested Saturday morning. Still, Lazaro Gonzalez's front door was rammed in, and Mr. Gonzalez and other family members were pushed around and had weapons pointed at them. Yet they were not arrested for any crimes. Elian was not in any danger while he was living with his relatives while the courts considered the issue.

I am saddened that a majority of Americans don't seem to feel that parts of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution may have been violated Saturday morning in Mr. Gonzalez's house. If one citizen's constitutional rights get ignored with the approval of a majority of other Americans, there is something terribly wrong because we may all be in danger of losing constitutional rights and protection.

JIM BASSETT

Fort Worth, Texas

m

I would like to congratulate George Stephanopoulos, who appeared on television Sunday morning, on his viewpoint regarding the return of Elian Gonzalez to his father. My support rests with his beliefs that Elian should have been restored immediately to his father.

As an American living in a free country, I found my frustrations were pushed to the limit as the Gonzalez story developed. It was a tragedy to witness in America utter disregard for the father-son relationship, which should have been restored immediately but instead was subordinated to political motive and publicity hoarding by the Miami relatives and various politicians.

All this considered, fiction could not be stranger than this circus.

A tip of the hat to Attorney General Janet Reno and all those involved with the swift rescue of this child and those who placed him back in the hands of his father, where he indisputably belongs.

DAVID W. ROTH

Framingham, Mass.

m

The recent Immigration and Naturalization Service raid in Miami similar to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas was a shameful abuse of power in its own right, but it also is part of a much larger problem in this country the militarization of civilian law enforcement agencies.

When you give civilian law enforcement officers military weapons, uniforms and training, as well as a yearly budget that must be maintained, they naturally develop a desire to apply their skills as often as possible. It should come as no surprise that when asked to remove a fly from someone's forehead, they respond with a sledgehammer.

ROBERT JENSEN

Leesburg, Va.

m

I volunteered 20 years of my life for this country in the military service. My service was to protect those who live here and those who seek to come here to escape from tyranny. Saturday morning, as I watched the images rerun over and again from Miami, I felt like my service was 20 years of wasted time.

This is yet another event added to the sitting president's "legacy." I do not care how many experts battle over whether the man's finger was on the trigger. If I rob a bank and my finger is not on a trigger, will that assure me a lighter sentence for armed robbery? Is there anything this administration cannot do?

Again, we are conditioned to accept this behavior while we have another piece of our freedom taken away.

JEFF SPRAGUE

Spotsylvania, Va.

m

Part of Ronald Reagan's legacy was the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Part of President Clinton's legacy will be the tearing down of the Gonzalez family's door. Some legacy.

DOMINIC TONDO

Gaithersburg

{}

I am greatly disturbed that a majority of fellow Americans approve of the heavy-handed tactics employed by the federal government to remove Elian Gonzalez from his relatives' home in Miami. Regardless of how one feels about where Elian should grow up or who should raise him, Americans need to reflect on the methods used by our government in this matter.

No one in the Miami home was arrested Saturday morning. Still, Lazaro Gonzalez's front door was rammed in, and Mr. Gonzalez and other family members were pushed around and had weapons pointed at them. Yet they were not arrested for any crimes. Elian was not in any danger while he was living with his relatives while the courts considered the issue.

I am saddened that a majority of Americans don't seem to feel that parts of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution may have been violated Saturday morning in Mr. Gonzalez's house. If one citizen's constitutional rights get ignored with the approval of a majority of other Americans, there is something terribly wrong because we may all be in danger of losing constitutional rights and protection.

JIM BASSETT

Fort Worth, Texas

{}

I would like to congratulate George Stephanopoulos, who appeared on television Sunday morning, on his viewpoint regarding the return of Elian Gonzalez to his father. My support rests with his beliefs that Elian should have been restored immediately to his father.

As an American living in a free country, I found my frustrations were pushed to the limit as the Gonzalez story developed. It was a tragedy to witness in America utter disregard for the father-son relationship, which should have been restored immediately but instead was subordinated to political motive and publicity hoarding by the Miami relatives and various politicians.

All this considered, fiction could not be stranger than this circus.

A tip of the hat to Attorney General Janet Reno and all those involved with the swift rescue of this child and those who placed him back in the hands of his father, where he indisputably belongs.

DAVID W. ROTH

Framingham, Mass.

{}

The recent Immigration and Naturalization Service raid in Miami similar to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas was a shameful abuse of power in its own right, but it also is part of a much larger problem in this country the militarization of civilian law enforcement agencies.

When you give civilian law enforcement officers military weapons, uniforms and training, as well as a yearly budget that must be maintained, they naturally develop a desire to apply their skills as often as possible. It should come as no surprise that when asked to remove a fly from someone's forehead, they respond with a sledgehammer.

ROBERT JENSEN

Leesburg, Va.

{}

I volunteered 20 years of my life for this country in the military service. My service was to protect those who live here and those who seek to come here to escape from tyranny. Saturday morning, as I watched the images rerun over and again from Miami, I felt like my service was 20 years of wasted time.

This is yet another event added to the sitting president's "legacy." I do not care how many experts battle over whether the man's finger was on the trigger. If I rob a bank and my finger is not on a trigger, will that assure me a lighter sentence for armed robbery? Is there anything this administration cannot do?

Again, we are conditioned to accept this behavior while we have another piece of our freedom taken away.

JEFF SPRAGUE

Spotsylvania, Va.

{}

Part of Ronald Reagan's legacy was the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Part of President Clinton's legacy will be the tearing down of the Gonzalez family's door. Some legacy.

DOMINIC TONDO

Gaithersburg

Red Cross fighting for safest possible blood supply

While the American Red Cross appreciates Donald Devine's encouragement for The Washington Times readers to become blood donors ("Only the moral need apply," April 14), Mr. Devine incorrectly asserts that the Red Cross passes moral judgment on people who are deferred from donating blood.

The Red Cross supports all measures that help ensure the safest possible blood supply for accident victims, cancer patients, people undergoing surgeries and anyone who needs blood. In addition to relying solely on volunteer blood donors, the Red Cross along with all the nation's blood banks closely follows U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criteria for who can and cannot donate blood. The FDA regulates all U.S. blood centers' activities, including the collection and testing of voluntarily donated blood. The fact that the FDA requires the Red Cross to defer people who have visited parts of the world still affected by malaria and those who engage in high-risk behaviors bears no reflection on the Red Cross' commitment to diversity.

Questions about donors' race are optional but serve a very important purpose. Some rare blood types occur only in certain ethnic groups, and if we can identify donors who have these rare blood types, we can encourage them to participate in our Rare Donor Screening Program. The Red Cross houses the world's largest registry of rare blood donors, the American Rare Donor Program, which is a joint effort between the Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks. Through the program, the Red Cross maintains a frozen supply of rare blood available for immediate shipment around the globe, which allows us to meet patients' specific needs.

Periodic blood shortages cannot be attributed to a nationwide morality crisis, as Mr. Devine states. Rather, these shortages can be attributed to a steady increase in the demand for blood as the medical community continues to find new ways to use blood and blood products in lifesaving and life-enhancing therapies.

The American Red Cross' mission is to save lives and prevent suffering. Our organization seeks to accomplish this goal every day by providing biomedical services, disaster relief domestically and internationally, health and safety services, HIV/AIDS education and services to the nation's armed forces. Recognizing that prevention is still the best weapon in saving lives, the Red Cross has played a strong role in educating the public about the threat of HIV/AIDS and continues to do so by providing grants to local Red Cross chapters to fight the epidemic more effectively in their local communities. Since 1985, the Red Cross has trained and educated more than 17 million people about HIV/AIDS.

As the nation's largest collector and supplier of blood, the Red Cross is committed to the safety, reliability and availability of the blood supply. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 800/ GIVE-LIFE.

PAUL M. NESS

Senior medical director

Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Region

American Red Cross

Baltimore

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