- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2004

Government in the boudoir?

Does anyone else find yesterday’s commentary pieces “Disguised as news” by Dan K. Thomasson and “More than a ‘lifestyle choice’” by Jennifer Marshall, completely bewildering?

Why is it “no one’s business” when Illinois Senate hopeful Jack Ryan supposedly pressures his wife to have public sex in fetish clubs — yet the government has an obligation to protect the “foundation of the intact family” by prohibiting “marriage” between loving, committed same-sex couples?

If, as Miss Marshall proposes, marriage is “more than a lifestyle choice,” doesn’t the public have a right to expect senatorial candidates who don’t degrade the dignity of marriage by frequenting lewd sex clubs? Or, on the other hand, if even a candidate for public office has a right to some personal freedom — “unless there are charges of wrongdoing” — maybe we as a society should lighten up and let same-sex couples enter into the same legal unions as everyone else.

JONATHAN BAUM

New York

Taiwan and Beijing

In reference to “China’s military threat” (Editorial, Saturday), the Taiwanese government has betrayed the American people for many years. Officers retired from the Taiwanese military have given Beijing top-secret information about American weapons purchased by Taipei (“Military secrets on sale to China,” Taipei Times, July 11, 2000); Beijing returns the favor by giving lucrative jobs and financial compensation to these officers. Such dastardly behavior, in addition to the continued spying for Beijing by some Taiwanese in the United States, convinced the Clinton administration, in 2000, to put Taiwan on the FBI list of hostile intelligence threats (“Reno calls Taiwan an intelligence threat,” The Washington Times, May 24, 2000).

Furthermore, the Taiwanese refuse to make the necessary sacrifices to defend their freedoms. They made Taiwan economically dependent on Beijing by investing more than $100 billion in more than 50,000 businesses in mainland China. In terms of dollars, Taiwan now conducts more trade with China than Taiwan conducts with the United States. In China, Taiwanese businesses receive preferential treatment that is denied to American businesses.

In short, the Taiwanese expect Americans to make the sacrifices (e.g. damaging our relations with Beijing) needed to defend Taiwan, but the Taiwanese feel free to do whatever they like — including strengthening the military might of Beijing. We should stop this nonsense by rescinding the Taiwan Relations Act and terminating all relations with Taiwan.

DWIGHT SUNADA

Stanford, Calif.

On terms of torture

Eugene Kontorovich’s article on defining torture (“Severe and prolonged harm,” Op-Ed, Friday) is accurate and disingenuous at the same time. Accurate, because it seems quite true to this non-lawyer that the administration was “trying to pin down what that slippery term meant in the first place.” (How worthwhile that quest is is another matter.)

Mr. Kontorovich is disingenuous, however, because he strives to leave the impression that the definition of torture is the only issue and that the only individuals relevant to this discussion are “al Qaeda and the Ba’athist remnants.” That is highly dubious. And frankly, since the incoming Iraqi prime minister is a “Ba’athist remnant,” what is the relevance?

The 1949 Geneva Convention on prisoners of war, signed by Iraq as well as the United States, proscribes a range of behaviors, not just torture. They apply to prisoners in Iraq. That text outlaws “(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

I trust that most of us don’t need lawyers to parse the meaning of these phrases. They are remarkably clear. Is it really too much to ask an administration to uphold such basic protections? The fact that many researchers argue that torture rarely works in eliciting reliable intelligence should seal the case.

SHAWN MCHALE

Associate Professor of History and International Affairs

Associate Director, Sigur Center for Asian Studies

George Washington University

Washington

The overlooked story

Regarding your editorial “Ignoring Putin’s revelation” (Wednesday), it is gratifying that your newspaper saw the importance of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s extraordinary statement that after the September 11 attacks Saddam Hussein was preparing terrorist attacks against the United States, both inside and outside this country.

The operative word used here is “preparing” to attack the United States, meaning that the plot had progressed beyond the mere planning stage. Apart from the incredible fact that several news media outlets decided to ignore this shocking revelation completely, as duly noted in your editorial, Mr. Putin’s revelation raises numerous questions which to date have gone unanswered, such as: Why did the attacks not take place? Why has the Bush administration failed to elaborate on this extraordinary intelligence, even after Mr. Putin publicly delivered the statement? Did Saddam plan to use members of his own regime to carry out the attacks or did he plan to outsource the job to his friendly al Qaeda buddies?

Isn’t anyone out there the least bit inquisitive? Maybe Alice should have another talk with the Queen.

HARRISON E. MCCANDLISH

Alexandria

Anyone can be president

Robert Brantley’s letter (“A lackluster legacy,” Friday) listing Bill Clinton’s handover of both houses of Congress to the Republicans after 40 years, his non-response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and his being one of only two impeached presidents, along with Tony Blankley’s column on the subject (“The Clinton legacy — oops,” Op-Ed, Wednesday), have pretty much identified Mr. Clinton’s legacy.

Here’s another: Mr. Clinton proved that our parents were more right than they could possibly have imagined when they told us that “anybody can become president of the United States.”

W.J. RICHARDSON

Virginia Beach

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