- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2000

Actor's drug arrest raises privacy issues

In her Op-Ed "Downey and the drug war" (Dec. 3), Michelle Malkin makes a good point about the absurdity of meddling in Robert Downey Jr.'s private life, but evidently has no sympathy for black athletes such as Darryl Strawberry who receive far more attention from America's lunatic drug crusaders than white celebrities.

If Downey deserves to be left alone, how much more so the hundreds of black athletes targeted by America's drug warriors. What crime has Strawberry committed that warrants prison or merits any interference in his life at all?

REDFORD GIVENS

San Francisco

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Michelle Malkin was right on the mark with her column, "Downey and the drug war" (Dec. 3). If Robert Downey Jr. had attempted to take his own life by swallowing rat poison and survived, would we send him to prison for his own good? Then why do we punish people for taking harmful substances?

Heart disease kills a lot more people than illegal drugs. One of the main causes of heart disease are high-fat diets. Should we send people to prison for consuming too many hamburgers or french fries?

KIRK MUSE

At drug checkpoints, citizens are guilty until proven innocent

It is heartening to see the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against random drug checkpoints ("Court strikes down drug checkpoints," Nov. 29). For years the drug war has been used to invade the privacy of all citizens. For example, if you want a job, you must prove yourself innocent of drug crimes by submitting bodily fluids for analysis. The same is true if you are a student hoping to join in an extracurricular activity. And all students are subject to random searches by dogs trained to detect drugs, while anyone who travels by bus may find themselves face to face with a law enforcement officer who "requests" to search their personal belongings.

Since many illegal drug users look and act just like people who don't use illegal drugs, those would protect us from ourselves surveil everyone. In making people prove their innocence, some drug users may be caught. However, such procedures also allow authorities to scrutinize citizens without cause. The war on drugs is also a war on personal privacy.

STEPHEN YOUNG

Clinton Vietnam trip typical of lofty liberal hypocrisy

I would like to express my appreciation to Jeff Jacoby for his succinct article, "Letting the Vietnamese down," (Dec. 3). As a former combat veteran in Vietnam (1967-1968), I have always felt that the vocal opposition to war by the left wing had more to do with fear than integrity. Mr. Jacoby has captured the hypocritical essence expressed by the lofty ideals of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in his depiction of our commander in chief, Bill Clinton.

I never felt any animosity toward those who did not serve, regardless of the reason. But countless numbers of Vietnam veterans, including myself have been on the raw end of demeaning attacks by those who supported "the best and the brightest." It took 10 years after the war before we had a memorial, built in most part from the contributions of those did serve and those who stood by them.

Today, it is virtually a prerequisite for political figures to have served honorably during that terrible conflict. How times have changed. Many veterans have gotten over the horrors of combat, but none of us will forget the way we were treated when we came home.

President Clinton's trip to Vietnam, 30 years after the sound of helicopters and firefights ceased, brought it all home again. But as my wife says at least now, he can say he went to Vietnam.

EMMET LAUER

Palestinians won't accept Barak's 'installment plan'

Last week former President Jimmy Carter added his voice to the chorus of world opinion, calling for Israel to exchange "land for peace," and the United Nations (with the exception of the United States and Israel) unanimously demanded a return to 1967 borders. So Prime Minister Ehud Barak has floated an offer that would give the Palestinians a small amount of land in exchange for peace, putting off any substantial territorial agreement for three years.

This passes for generosity in our media, but the Palestinians learned the hard way to demand "cash no credit." Israel pledged repeatedly to return the spoils of its attack on its neighbors in 1967 until the time came to deliver. The game plan seems to be "gain time to gain land."

Israel has misused interim agreements like an installment plan to encroach on Palestinian land and water. Settlements of civilians on occupied territory are forbidden by the Geneva Convention for good reason. Further insistence on a right to expand can lead to rejection even of the right to exist and of U.S. influence in the region.

While talking peace, Israel fights tooth and nail to keep its lion's share, as seen so vividly in the last couple months. But the U.S. lion tamer isn't doing his job, and the lion's paw is firmly stuck in the Palestine trap.

Economic integration, not elbow room, will bring security. Israel should forget the dream of a Jordan River border before the nightmare gets worse.

J.P. LEONARD

Election continues to trouble nation

Thank you for your coverage of efforts to persuade Republican electors to vote for Vice President Al Gore in the Electoral College vote ("Ugly tactics put stress on electors," Dec. 4). It is important to note that Mr. Gore has only collected the majority of the popular vote that has been counted thus far. Many states have not counted their absentee and overseas ballots since the results of their particular state would not change. However, there are more than enough of these votes nationwide (which as we've seen, lean to the Republican side) to give Texas Gov. George W. Bush the popular vote majority, if they were included.

For the Democrats to suggest that Mr. Gore won the popular vote before all the votes are counted is ironic, considering they declare that they want all the votes counted before a winner is declared.

EDWARD J. SANCHEZ JR.

Friendswood, Texas

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As you point out in your Dec. 1 editorial, "Tell the truth, Mr. Boies," Illinois did not count the dimpled chads as Democratic legal jackal David Boies told the Florida Supreme Court. It's clear, based on the decision it handed down, that the Florida Supreme Court never reviewed or investigated the Illinois case to verify Mr. Boies' claims, but chose instead to side with Vice President Al Gore, providing a politically motivated justification for his recount. The seven justices on the Florida Supreme Court are the shame of the nation.

FRANK TRAYNOR

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