- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 26, 2000

British Embassy responds to allegations in commentary

I cannot let John Bolton's column go by without replying to the serious allegations he makes about the British government ("Smuggling scuds to Libya," Commentary, Jan. 19).

Last March we eventually succeeded, along with the U.S. government, a number of other states and the U.N. secretary-general, in persuading Libya to comply with the process of criminal justice and hand over the two suspects in the Pan Am Flight 103 trial. We are proud of that achievement, one that, certainly in Britain, was welcomed by the vast majority of the relatives of the victims of that atrocity.

The trial will be under a Scottish court, sitting in the Netherlands. Scottish justice is independent of political interference. The allegation that the Scottish prosecutors would allow themselves to be constrained from carrying out their duties or pursuing certain lines of evidence because of some "deal" with Col. Moammar Gadhafi is highly offensive and wrong.

However, we have made no secret of the fact that the Lockerbie trial is about carrying out the process of criminal justice, not a "show trial" to undermine the Libyan regime. We believe in the rule of law and do not try to use court cases for political ends.

It is willful obfuscation to confuse this issue with the attempted smuggling of Scud parts. The interception of that shipment was a nonproliferation success, and we have protested to the Libyans in very strong terms about their attempt to smuggle these items.

We will continue to use all efforts to prevent any breaches of embargoes and nonproliferation regimes. But this is clearly a separate issue from the Lockerbie case.

CHRISTOPHER MEYER

Ambassador

British Embassy

Washington

Letter writer becomes an apologist for criminal

In a letter to the editor printed on Jan. 17 ("Judge's remarks show that he cares"), Barry H. Helfand stated that criticism against Montgomery County Circuit Judge Durke G. Thompson concerning a recent decision was "disturbingly unfounded." The decision was in the case of a 23-year-old man Judge Thompson sentenced for committing a second-degree sex offense with an 11-year-old girl. Mr. Helfand quoted the judge as saying that in such an act, "it takes two to tango."

Mr. Helfand spent most of his letter commenting on how the girl consented to the crime. He wrote how she "is not without fault," had "made poor decisions," "bears some responsibility for what happened" and "must not continue to behave as she did." I counter that it is generally accepted as true that an 11-year-old girl has much to learn and years of maturing before becoming capable of making an informed decision to consent. That thought also is expressed in the law. On the other hand, a 23-year-old man is expected to know that having sexual contact with an 11-year-old girl is against the law.

Mr. Helfand also wrote that "the difficult, ugly truth of this case, however, is that an 11-year-old girl did, in fact, consent to performing an oral sex act with this man." I very strongly disagree. The disturbing "ugly truth" of this case is that some people appear to excuse a 23-year-old adult for having sexual contact with an 11-year-old child. That is a crime.

DAVID C. HILL

Baltimore

Columnist should take a hike on defense of Clinton land grab

I read with disappointment the truly elitist and misinformed Op-Ed column by "conservative" Linda Chavez ("Cliff notes on conservation," Commentary, Jan. 21).

Suggesting that President Clinton's million-acre Grand Canyon land lockup will draw more people to that area is ridiculous. The only access to nearly all of the western Parashant portion of the canyon is by off-road vehicle combined with long, arduous hikes on foot. The new monument designation prohibits off-road use, nearly eliminating even the restricted public access currently available.

I agree with Mrs. Chavez that creating wealth is the best way to help people and protect the environment. But what of her "conservative conservationist" view that wilderness expansion will protect the precious warm fuzzy creatures that dwell there?

It is nothing more than the feel-good goop that so many urbanites have toward a far-off land that virtually none of them will ever visit. At several thousand feet in elevation, with little water, high winds and 105 degree heat in the shade, Mother Nature in the desert kills off many more of her own than the occasional human who ever passes by.

Millions of acres of federal lands already are in wilderness status, and more are locked away from any public recreational access each year. At some point, we need to ask: How much is enough?

Leaving national conservation policy up to the Harvard whiz kids, as Mrs. Chavez suggests, would be a very big mistake. They are the same crowd that got us into the Vietnam War while they dodged the draft, helped create the Great Society welfare state while living in gated communities and invented forced busing while sending their children to private schools.

MICHAEL HARDIMAN

Washington

Michael Hardiman is a lobbyist for the American Land Rights Association, which advocates private property rights and multiple use of federal lands.

Responses to editorial on 'Defining prostitution'

While I sympathize with international efforts to control prostitution, in light of the 10th Amendment, I cannot condone yet one more defined federal crime ("Defining prostitution," Editorial, Jan. 21).

We have far too many federal crimes on the books now, and far too many Americans are tried in federal courts for crimes that should rightfully and constitutionally be state matters and fall under state and local jurisdiction.

To stand firm for states' rights and limited federal government requires that we stop finding excuses to expand federal jurisdiction and centralize further power in Washington. If the women being brought into the United States for prostitution are being brought in illegally, we already have sufficient immigration laws to correct that. If these women and their pimps are conducting business in states where prostitution is illegal, the state and local authorities have laws to handle them. If they have entered the United States legally and are conducting their business in a state that allows prostitution, it is no longer an issue for prosecution.

Use the laws we have, leave state and local crime management at the state and local levels and prevent Washington from expanding our rapidly growing Big Brother bureaucracy.

I used to believe The Washington Times represented a rational, conservative viewpoint, but perhaps your editors have lived inside the Beltway too long. You're starting to sound more and more like the entrenched GOP governing elite who profess support for lower taxes and less government while continually finding new federal programs on which to spend our extorted tax dollars.

WALT SHIEL

Peaster, Texas

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In "Defining prostitution," you claimed that the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other women's organizations were appalled by the efforts of the Clinton administration to support the legalization of prostitution. Unfortunately, you fail to grasp the essence of the administration's efforts in Vienna, or even the essence of our letter.

Planned Parenthood believes the exploitation of the prostitution of others is a human rights violation, and we requested that the administration support in Vienna, as we do, the broadest possible definition of trafficking, one that protects everyone women and girls, men and boys one that targets individuals and groups for all acts compelling others into forced labor or service, such as prostitution, domestic servitude, debt bondage, or other slaverylike practices.

Our communication with the administration reflected a strategic debate around how best to hold traffickers accountable for the toll they take on human lives. We support the administration's efforts to strengthen international protocols that will for the first time seek to dismantle the international crime rings that prey on women and children.

GLORIA FELDT

President

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Washington

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