- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Taleban, Pakistan source of South Asian instability

Without taking sides in Afghanistan's protracted civil war, the United States should, at the minimum, recognize the Taleban's promotion of Islamic fundamentalism and its adherents' proclivity toward destabilizing the region and the world, especially where U.S. interests are involved ("Masood's last stand?," Dec. 16). If U.S. policy is to "ensure that Afghanistan does not become a source of instability for the region," then it has already failed miserably. Terrorist networks the world over use Afghanistan and the Taleban's operational cover as a staging ground for their assaults. The bombing of the USS Cole is only the most recent example.

Your article also correctly recognizes Pakistan's complicity in the Taleban's success, without which the Taleban would not have gained power nor held onto it. Ingenuously, just as Pakistan denies its verifiable presence in Indian-Kashmir, so too does it deny any responsibility for the Taleban's livelihood. Only when the U.S. administration officially recognizes what the intelligence community already knows that the ultimate source of instability in the region is Pakistan and its cadre of Islamist military-intelligence officers will we be able to design a South Asia policy based on primacy and not palaver.

TIMOTHY L. TOWELL

U.S. Ambassador, (retired)

Washington

Timothy L. Towell was deputy chief of protocol and ambassador to Paraguay under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, respectively.

On election issue, Democrats should take their own advice and 'move on'

How many times have we heard over the past few years, "Let's stop the politics of personal destruction" and "It's time for the nation to put this matter behind us and move on"? Democrats coined these now famous buzz-phrases as a means of defusing potentially disastrous political blunders by fellow Democrats. How odd it seems that a party that prides itself (publicly, at least) on being tolerant and inclusive would not extend these sentiments to Republicans ("Democrat leaders yet to concede legitimacy," Dec. 18).

Apparently, the Democratic leadership intends to use every political weapon at its disposal to damage the presidency of George W. Bush. No matter that the likes of Jesse Jackson, Rep. Maxine Waters, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle do not possess the power to delegitimize Mr. Bush. The voters will have the power to remove him from office four years from now.

In attacking Mr. Bush in this fashion, the Democrats will succeed only in damaging the institution of the presidency. The American people must let them know that they must now help to heal our nation, and if they do not, they will be cast aside in the next election in favor of those who will.

JEFFREY H. DISSELL

Gainesville, Fla.

Journalist is not 'apologist for terrorist groups'

On June 27 The Washington Times published a letter from Khalid Duran that contained false and defamatory statements about me. In the course of defending reporter Steve Emerson, Mr. Duran refers to me as an "extremist" and "an apologist for terrorist groups."

These ridiculous statements are apparently based on a commentary I wrote for KQED-FM, a San Francisco affiliate of National Public Radio, criticizing Mr. Emerson's television documentary on Muslims in America. The statements in the letter couldn't be based on anything I've ever said to Mr. Duran or Mr. Emerson; I've never spoken with them.

The Washington Times has a responsibility both ethically and legally to verify the accuracy of information appearing in your newspaper, even on the Letters to the editor page. You could have easily contacted me to determine the falsity of those ridiculous charges.

I have been a free-lance journalist for more than 30 years, having written for the Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, BBC Radio and the St. Petersburg Times, among others. I worked as a university journalism lecturer for 10 years. Even journalism undergrads understand the need to verify potentially libelous information before publication. Apparently, The Washington Times does not.

REESE ERLICH

Editor's Note:

The Washington Times does not endorse the description in Mr. Duran's letter of Mr. Erlich as an apologist for terrorist groups, and is not aware of his having been an apologist for any terrorist group. We apologize for any inconvenience publication of the letter may have caused.

Abortion pill has been tested, proven effective

I am writing to clarify several accusations in Teresa Wagner's Dec. 2 Commentary article, "A rush to market, not a remedy." The article focuses on the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of Mifeprex, the early option pill, under subpart H of FDA regulations.

Supbart H allows the FDA to establish distribution systems to assure safe use of certain drugs the agency has found to be effective. In the case of Mifeprex, the FDA asked to limit distribution of Mifeprex to physicians who had the necessary knowledge and skills to prescribe the drug appropriately, and who agreed to provide patients with detailed information about the drug. Danco Laboratories, the manufacturer of Mifeprex, agreed. The article, however, described subpart H approval as being only for drugs which have not been fully tested and which are "experimental." That is incorrect in general, and especially so in the case of Mifeprex. Mifeprex is not an experimental drug, and there were no short cuts in conducting the clinical trials submitted to the FDA or in the FDA review and approval process.

The basis of the FDA's approval of Mifeprex is large-scale clinical trials run in France and in the United States (published in the New England Journal of Medicine). The drug has been thoroughly studied, both internationally and in the United States. More than 2,000 women participated in the Population Council-sponsored U.S. clinical trials, and more than 620,000 women in Europe have used this drug safely and effectively over the last 12 years. Every aspect of the safety, efficacy and manufacture of Mifeprex was thoroughly reviewed and approved by the FDA.

At Danco Laboratories we spent many years working with the FDA to ensure that Mifeprex met the FDA's safety and efficacy standards and that we had a distribution system in place that would allow both access and safe use. This distribution system provides Mifeprex directly to qualified physicians who are in a position to give their patients accurate information.

The science supporting this drug, not to mention the experience of women all over the world who have used it, speaks for itself. It is important that, rather than reading false and biased statements, such as those written by Ms. Wagner, women and their health-care providers receive accurate information about Mifeprex the early option that allows women in the United States to make the best choices for themselves and their families.

DR. RICHARD HAUSKNECHT

Medical Director

Danco Laboratories, LLC

New York

Anti-poverty or anti-poor

It should come as no surprise that UNICEF supports a policy resulting in the deaths of millions of African children ("Risky milk mindset," Commentary, Dec. 16). Leftist organizations such as UNICEF and International Planned Parenthood have been promoting abortion and population control in Third World nations for decades. These organizations have never been about eliminating poverty. They have been about eliminating the poor.

OWEN M. SWEENEY

Springfield

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