- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

The Taliban must be removed

As bombs rain on the Taliban's centers of power, we as a nation must harden and broaden our resolve to remove the ultimate cause of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Taliban regime bears ultimate responsibility, and it must be removed from power. As a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, I can say that we made a grave mistake in leaving Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Obviously, we have paid the price for our naivete these past 10 years. Do we really want to repeat that mistake with the Taliban rulers? Theirs is not a true government; nor are they administrators capable of running a country. No one benefits from their presence in Kabul. The ultimate demonstration of our resolve in this matter will be the destruction of the Taliban regime. We must accept nothing less.

JOE HAMMELL
Waynesboro, Pa.

Bus assailant may have been more than 'deranged'

Your Oct. 5 report "Wounded bus driver says riders' safety top priority" describes the man who slit the throat of a bus driver and caused the deaths of six passengers near Manchester, Tenn., as a "deranged" individual while other reports describe him as being "mentally disturbed." Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) reported that Damir Igric, whom the FBI identified as the assailant, was a Croatian war veteran who had fought against the Serbs in the 1990s. Furthermore, DPA revealed that Igric, who had a record of mental problems, entered the United States in 1999 on a one-month visa issued by the American embassy in Zagreb, according to FBI agent Scott Nowinski.
What might very well explain this young man's bizarre behavior? According to a Sept. 5, 1995, "Regional Briefing" report in The Washington Times, Croatian soldiers at a central Italian drug rehabilitation center said Croatian army infirmaries gave them twice-daily doses of heroin to help them face up to the horrors of war. "To attack [Serb] villages, to cut throats and to kill [Serbs] in cold blood you needed a strong anesthetic," said a Croatian soldier identified only as Davor. "A shot of heroin or cocaine was ideal," he said. The account of soldiers being given hard drugs by the government was confirmed in an Aug. 31, 1995, report, "Croat troops 'given drugs'" in London's Guardian.
Croatian media reported that Igric suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome, common among Croatian war veterans. How many more Croatian soldiers who possibly were pumped up with heroin and cocaine by their government are being given visas to enter the United States?

STELLA L. JATRAS
Sterling, Va.

Reader misplaces blame for Clinton disgraces, terrorist attacks

It was only a matter of time before some apologist for disgraced former President Bill Clinton blamed congressional Republicans and independent counsel Ken Starr for the terrorist murder of thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, and letter writer Alex Wagner did not disappoint ("Republican 'witch hunt' kept Clinton from focusing on terrorism threat," Letters, Oct. 8).
Was it Mr. Starr appointed by Mr. Clinton's own attorney general who forced Mr. Clinton to sexually harass women before he became president? Was it Mr. Starr who came forward with charges of improper behavior even before Mr. Clinton was elected president? Was it Mr. Starr who compelled Mr. Clinton to commit perjury before a federal grand jury and to pay a $90,000 fine for having done so? Was it Mr. Starr who caused Mr. Clinton to have his license to practice law in Arkansas suspended or to have his license suspended by the U.S. Supreme Court?
All Mr. Clinton had to do was to tell the truth and uphold the law, just as he swore an oath on a Bible that he would do. Instead, he lied and obfuscated at every opportunity, turning a simple investigation that could have been concluded in a month or two into a multimillion-dollar, multiyear legal travesty.
Who was responsible for Mr. Clinton's troubles, Mr. Wagner? To paraphrase Shakespeare: The fault, dear Alex, is not in his Starrs but in himself.

ROGER JOHNSON
Kensington

Contracting out government work doesn't necessarily save money

Most Americans now understand that it was a serious mistake to rely on contractors to provide security at our nation's airports. Careful readers of The Washington Times now know that the newspaper is making a serious mistake in relying on defense contractors to write its editorials.
In the Oct. 4 editorial "Donald Rumsfeld, architect," you wrote that Mr. Rumsfeld's idea to contract out government work and save billions of defense dollars "runs smack into Rep. Neil Abercrombie's current amendment to end all contracting out and bring those dollars to Pentagon civilian employees."
It would be difficult to misstate more grievously the purpose of Mr. Abercrombie's amendment. This measure, which was added to the defense authorization bill by the House Armed Services Committee through a bipartisan vote, would not have prevented contracting out. Rather, it would have ensured that there was real public-private competition before the jobs of federal employees were given to contractors and before at least a fraction of new work was handed over to contractors.
As everyone from the General Accounting Office to the Bush administration acknowledges, to the extent that there are cost savings, they don't come from contracting out. Rather, such savings are generated by public-private competition. Given that virtually no work is subject to public-private competition before it is given to contractors, the Abercrombie amendment could have ended the use of defense service contracting as wasteful corporate welfare.
Unfortunately, big defense contractors used taxpayer dollars to lobby the House to strip the pro-public-private competition provisions from the defense authorization bill last month. Ironically, in your zeal to blindly pass on contractor disinformation, you failed to note that the Abercrombie amendment had been killed by pro-corporate-welfare lawmakers. Just as responsible lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are attempting to build up an in-house security capacity to safeguard our airports, so should The Washington Times establish an in-house editorial capacity to safeguard the truth.

BOBBY L. HAMAGE
National president
American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO
Washington

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