- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Government doublespeak limits the language of debate

The U.S. government continues a relentless propaganda campaign of stating issues in a way that frames the possible outcomes of debate. Two more terms for the doublespeak lexicon are "budget surplus" and "gun buyback program."

Presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore argue over how best to spend the budget surplus which new programs to fund, which existing programs to fix, etc. In fact, this money is a tax surplus. Constitutionally, the tax surplus should be used to pay down the national debt or returned to the taxpayer.

Gun buyback programs are being implemented across the nation to get guns off our streets and to address unacceptable crime rates. But the government cannot "buy back" that which it did not or does not own.

The common thread in these new doublespeak terms is the implication of government ownership where it does not exist. This clever use of the language restricts the set of possible outcomes of debate on these issues.

ALBERT THOMAS HOLT

Monkton, Md.

Uninvited candidates would bring diversity to presidential debates

Oliver North hit the target with "Fear of the uninvited" (Commentary, Oct. 1). A truly representative debate should include the small-party candidates who are on the ballots of most states. Thank you, Mr. North, for explaining how former chairmen of the Republican and Democratic parties control the "nonpartisan" Commission on Presidential Debates. These two parties, it has been said, have a nickel's worth of difference between them.

The inclusion of three small-party candidates Harry Browne, Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader would benefit voters by bringing some important issues to the debates that likely will not get a fair hearing otherwise, such as the hopelessness of the way the drug war is being waged; the rush to global economics that is hurting workers and small companies; and important ecological challenges.

Voters should let the networks know that an inclusive debate is needed. Certainly, at least C-SPAN would be receptive to the idea.

WAYNE HEMBREE

Bowie

George W. Bush's oil plan makes good sense

GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush's proposal ("Bush offers plan to slash reliance on foreign oil," Sept. 30) to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas exploration makes absolute sense for a number of reasons.

First, the United States imports more oil than ever before, often from unstable countries. Second, these imports contribute mightily to our trade deficit, now higher than ever under the Clinton administration.

In addition, exploration needs to be done soon before there is a crisis. Few realize that oil does not come gushing out once the exploration process begins. In fact, it would take years. Why wait for a crisis before exploring, drilling and hopefully producing domestic energy?

Finally, domestic production creates many good jobs throughout the United States for platform fabrication, steel, transportation, paint and coatings. The ANWR environment can surely sustain this activity with the better technology in exploration and drilling.

The great irony is Vice President Al Gore's sudden interest in oil pricing witness his successful call for release of 30 million barrels from our strategic petroleum reserve. That is a poor substitute for a long-term energy policy. In fact, Mr. Gore's desire to implement high energy taxes and his opposition to the internal combustion engine would increase energy costs to consumers and cost jobs. Gov. George W. Bush has picked a good time to push for a longer-term solution focusing on increased U.S. domestic oil and gas production, low-income energy assistance, and non-oil alternatives.

JAMES CALLAN

Arlington

AID abortion accusations are delay tactic

Thursday, Sen. Jesse Helms, North Carolina Republican, accused the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) of illegally diverting international family planning assistance to finance abortions, though in the 27 years since Congress barred the use of U.S. funds for abortion there has not been a single violation uncovered ("Helms fears U.S. taxes used to fund abortions," Sept. 29).

Last August, Mr. Helms asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to comprehensively review AID's compliance with the abortion ban and other restrictions. We understand the report is complete and was due for release Oct. 2.

It is also our understanding, however, that Mr. Helms is now insisting on a 30-day delay. Why? Could it be that there's nothing there, that just as AID has said all along, U.S. international family planning assistance doesn't fund abortions? So, without the damaging report he was seeking, Mr. Helms apparently intends to delay for as long as possible and use the time to fire off erroneous accusations.

U.S. international family planning assistance provides basic reproductive health services, including contraception, prenatal care, and HIV/AIDS prevention, to millions of women in developing countries.

Sadly, Mr. Helms' accusations appear intended only to undermine support for these vital programs just as the budget is being finalized, and they continue to obscure the truth about what U.S. international family planning assistance does and doesn't do.

TERRI BARTLETT

Vice President for Public Policy

Population Action International

Washington

Administration struggles to clean up Wen Ho Lee mess

Recent testimony by Clinton administration officials from the Department of Justice is an excellent example of how our federal officials are failing to perform their duties to those they have sworn to serve.

In the past weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony from both Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh. Miss Reno's and Mr. Freeh's lock-step rehearsed testimony was essentially just a repeat of claims that previously either were proved false or were unsubstantiated in the August Wen Ho Lee bail hearings in Albuquerque, N.M. The Justice and Energy departments are trying unsuccessfully to clean up the unwieldy mess they have made for themselves.

The administration seems to have decided to retry Mr. Lee in the court of public opinion after failing to elicit anything more than a guilty plea to only one of 59 charges. (Mr. Lee's one guilty plea was certainly understandable. Plead guilty to one count and be released from prison after nine months of incarceration without bail. Plead not guilty and stay in jail. What would any rational person have done in a similar situation?)

Additionally, government attorneys are orchestrating attacks against U.S. District Judge James Parker. He is the courageous jurist who, after releasing Mr. Lee, had the benevolence to apologize to Mr. Lee and his family while, at the same time, sending a harsh, critical message to Miss Reno, Mr. Freeh and Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. In very direct language, he candidly expressed his thoughts on their ongoing Gestapo-like tactics against Mr. Lee in a thinly disguised attempt to elicit a confession.

If the original charges were true that Mr. Lee's crime threatened the balance of world nuclear power, putting hundreds of millions of lives at stake, the Justice and Energy departments have attended to this situation in an unusually lax manner. Should we expect the same in a case in which the charges may not be so fanciful?

Outside the purely political aspects of this case, why have a substantial number of prominent scientists and CIA officials stated that the risks from Mr. Lee's downloading indiscretions were almost inconsequential?

The majority of Americans are just beginning to understand that the federal government has not only completely bungled this case but committed serious human rights violations in the process. Such violations may be common in authoritarian regimes, but they are contrary to our Bill of Rights.

GARY ESCHMAN

Santa Fe, N.M.

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