- The Washington Times - Friday, May 26, 2000

Navy could lose good personnel over women in subs

I have been reading about Sen. Olympia J. Snowe's push to put women on submarines ("Senator to fight ban on women in subs," May 8). I am disappointed that she would want to do that. As the wife of a 28-year veteran, I am greatly opposed to the move. Though my husband served in the Army and the Air Force, we have been stationed with Navy personnel and have many friends from the Navy. We spent many years at the explosive ordnance school in Indian Head, where all branches were represented as staff and students. Many of us were active in chapel programs.

I know the struggles the Navy and Marine families have when their men deploy so frequently. It puts a real strain on families. Adding women to the close quarters of a submarine punishes the women and children left behind.

If my husband were serving on a submarine and women were assigned to it, I would insist he leave the service. This is not because I don't trust him, but because I know what he would have to put up with seeing in those close quarters. It would be the right thing to do. A good man would then be separated from the service.

I think Mrs. Snowe is carrying feminism too far. This is not good for the country. It is all about the liberalism of the feminist. Unfortunately, feminists and liberals don't seem to look beyond their own desires.

WANDA GARDNER

Bryans Road, Md.

Wonderful columns about marching moms, corrupter in chief

Monday's Op-Ed page in The Washington Times was a delight to read. Above the fold, we were treated to two magnificent columns.

"Pistol packin' mamas" by Suzanne Fields exposes the misguided mothers who thought they were saving children by marching recently in Washington against guns. The column shows, however, that their proposals would endanger themselves and their children by unilaterally disarming the citizenry.

"Presidential con game" by Nat Hentoff shows how members of the White House press corps have become unabashed Clinton sycophants by telling us how they gave a standing ovation for the president when he made a comedy routine of his serial violations of the law.

Clearly, mothers should be rearing children to behave instead of marching in the streets and blaming others and even inanimate objects when children misbehave.

Clearly, the press corps should be ferreting out corruption in government instead of cheering the corrupter in chief when he becomes a stand-up comic, making fun of his own dishonesty.

Thanks, Washington Times.

ALI F. SEVIN

Fort Washington

Military training on island must continue

As the elected leader of the 2.8-million-member American Legion, I join former Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Ferre in supporting the recent expulsion of protesters from the U.S. military training range on Vieques ("Vieques and beyond," Commentary, May 17). Though Puerto Rico's relationship with the United States may be negotiable, vital military training on Vieques is as nonnegotiable as the freedom our troops defend.

I have discussed the use of Vieques with officers and sailors aboard the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS George Washington and elsewhere in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. Clearly, the Navy-Marine Corps team can conduct its vital live-fire training only one place in the Atlantic: on federal property on Vieques, where such training has been a key element of our national security since World War II.

Our sailors and Marines, who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution, must be sent into battle after receiving the requisite training at the U.S. base on Vieques. Although environmental safeguards should be taken to protect the island's residents, training must continue.

ALAN G. LANCE SR.

National commander

American Legion

Washington

Amendment would have kept executive branch in check

As one of the authors of the Byrd-Warner Kosovo amendment, I strongly disagree with Tod Lindberg's characterization of the amendment as "congressional overreaching" ("Keep peace in Kosovo," Op-Ed, May 23).

The purpose of the Byrd-Warner amendment was exactly the opposite to check the overreach of the executive branch on the expenditure of monies. The Constitution is very clear on this point: "No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law."

The problem in Kosovo is that the executive branch already has spent nearly $2 billion on peacekeeping operations without the benefit of having the money appropriated by Congress. What has happened is that the Defense Department has borrowed money from one activity operations and maintenance to pay for another peacekeeping in Kosovo and then handed Congress the option of either replenishing the original account or jeopardizing the U.S. military's readiness. This thinly disguised shell game amounts to the executive branch spending money that has never been appropriated, a practice that runs counter to the Constitution.

The purpose of the Byrd-Warner amendment was to replace executive-branch overreach with congressional oversight. The amendment also was intended to compel the administration to develop an exit strategy for Kosovo by requiring a plan to shift the burden of the ground-troop element of the Kosovo peacekeeping operation entirely to the Europeans. I have every confidence that an effective plan could be developed within the year the amendment provided, but we also provided an escape clause: If the next president believed the United States needed to continue the deployment of ground combat troops in Kosovo, the amendment provided expedited procedures for him to seek congressional authorization. Asking the president to make his case to Congress and to the American people to send American military personnel on dangerous deployments overseas seems to me to be a sensible and responsible, as well as the constitutional, course of action.

The contention that the Byrd-Warner amendment in any way would have signaled a reversal of the U.S. commitment to NATO is simply spurious. The United States has proved its commitment to NATO time and again, most recently during Operation Allied Force, the air campaign against Yugoslavia, for which the United States spent close to $3 billion.

According to a just-released study by the General Accounting Office, the United States, with about 12,800 troops in Bosnia and Kosovo, remains the largest force provider to the NATO-led operations in the Balkans. The same study estimated that the United States has contributed $21 billion to military and civilian operations in the Balkans from fiscal 1992 through fiscal 2000. The United States does not need to "prove" its commitment to NATO or Europe. Our commitment is an article of faith. Congress does, however, need to exercise its duties and responsibilities to the American people as required under the Constitution. Such action cannot help but strengthen our government and every present and future alliance in which we participate.

ROBERT C. BYRD

U.S. Senate

Washington

Cross at your own risk

The Washington Times article on pedestrian deaths in Northern Virginia cites crossing someplace other than a designated crosswalk as the most common reason for pedestrian accidents ("2 pedestrian deaths highlight a problem," Metropolitan, May 23). However, what benefit does a pedestrian gain by using a crosswalk? Drivers routinely ignore pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Perhaps if the police actually ticketed drivers for violating crosswalk laws, drivers would stop at crosswalks. Until then, the crosswalk is meaningless, and there is no reason for anyone to bother using it.

JOHN Z. WETMORE

Bethesda

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