- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Protecting state secrets

I agree completely that Sandy Berger should have received a stiffer penalty for removing classified documents from the National Archives and later destroying some of them (“Double standards for Sandy Berger,” Editorial, Wednesday).

However, I find the editorial ironic in view of the fact that one of your star reporters, Bill Gertz, has virtually made a career out of publishing excerpts from classified documents. I have no doubt that some of his articles at least provided foreign counterintelligence agencies with otherwise unobtainable information on what the U.S. government knew, and may have compromised U.S. intelligence sources and methods.

The editorial stated, “Lives depend upon observing national-security rules. Untold man-hours and billions of dollars are spent acquiring and keeping secrets. All this is risked when the rules and laws are broken.” If one of Mr. Gertz’s sources is ever caught red-handed passing him a top-secret document, I hope The Times will be consistent in its righteous indignation.

RICHARD A. WILLIAMS

Woodbridge, Va.

While Sandy Berger received only a hand slap for his criminal act of unauthorized destruction of classified government material, his case has had at least two unintended consequences: It has given the rest of the clearance-holding community yet another reason to question the value of their efforts and it has set a double standard for prosecuting national security cases.

In the first instance, the question again being posed throughout this community is, “Why bother?” From the perspective of the community, Mr. Berger’s actiondidn’t take place in a vacuum. Rather, it added cumulatively to thedemoralizing impact of classification-damaging cases such asKampiles, the Whitworths, Pelton, Pollard, Hanson, et. al.

In the second, the precedent-setting punishment administered by the court established a tenable defense for future classification rule-breaking clients who sniff rarified air, while leaving the honey-bucket haulers defenseless. In sum, the Berger case has contributed greatly to the devaluation oftheentire current classification program. As such, it raises a seriousquestion for the new National Intelligence Director: Has the time come to design,adopt and enforcea new classification system?

JAMES T. STRONG

Escondido, Calif.

Efforts to stop illegals a travesty

When state and local law enforcement officials encounter individuals who have just committed felonies, in just about all situations they take such people into detention. Yet folks who trespass into our country illegally are also felons by virtue of that act, and law enforcement officials are routinely releasing them (“11 illegal aliens caught, then released in Fairfax,” Page 1, Wednesday).

This is ludicrous and dangerous. When individuals are identified by police officers as being in the United States illegally, they should be held in custody. The sole intent of such intruders is to disappear into our cities; what we’re doing, in effect, by releasing them, is offering them a second opportunity to do what they came to do. With this kind of feeble interior law enforcement, it’s no wonder there’s anarchy at our borders.

TIM REID

Vienna

The Minutemen’s claim that their efforts have worked is true only if their goal was to get faces in the news (“Border patrols inspire imitation,” Page 1, Saturday).

I live two valleys over and 50 miles east of the Minutemen and the 1 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border that the Minutemen have “sealed.” The undocumented alien traffic has skyrocketed in my area; the illegal traffic is up from what I can see (groups on the move or waiting for their “coyote”), and apprehensions in my area are also up, according to the Border Patrol agents here.

And guess why: The Mexican news and Internet is full of maps and information on exactly where the rows of Minutemen are sitting in their lawn chairs, and the clever coyotes have moved their operations to adjacent sections of the border.

Illegal traffic is like hydraulics: It flows to areas of low pressure, in this case enforcement pressure. The traffic hasn’t stopped, it’s only moved sideways.

HELEN SNYDER

Douglas, Ariz.

I thought the word “illegal” designated something or someone that was against the law. I thought a “criminal” was someone who had committed a crime. Obviously I am misinformed. Both Fairfax County and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) found that “none” of the 11 Mexican “illegals” who were apprehended by Fairfax County Police “were criminals or threats to national security” (“Illegals and no-shows,” Editorial, Monday).

I thought it was against the law to enter the United States without a proper visa or other entry documentation. If so, everyone and anyone who enters the country without documentation has broken the law and is by definition a criminal.

Not mentioned in your editorial is the that none of the 11 had a driver’s license. It is a fact that operating a motor vehicle on Virginia highways without a proper operator’s license is against the law. So, the driver of the vehicle in question was in violation of the law and, by definition, is a criminal. Also not mentioned was that there was illegal crowding in the van, which was not designed or equipped to seat 11. I believe that is also against Virginia law.

So, by at least two criteria, these folks are criminals and should be subject to the same justice procedures and punishment to which I would have been subjected had I done any of these things. Many Virginia residents can testify that they have learned this the hard way. So, both the Fairfax police and the ICE ignored the law and their responsibility to arrest, charge and detain these criminals, and to move on to court. Detention would be legally obvious, and the fact that none of these criminals appeared should not surprise anyone. They are no doubt long gone South, where they were headed in the first place. I wonder if the broken justice system even impounded the vehicle?

This is an obscene travesty and must not be allowed to be passed by without action.

JOHN PRISLEY

Sterling, Va.

Students, teachers and picket lines

It’s not “graduate students” per se at Columbia and Yale who are going on strike this week; it’s graduate teachers (“… At the Ivy Leagues?” Editorial, Sunday). These people perform roughly a third of the teaching hours — leading discussion sections, teaching language classes, grading papers, meeting with students — at Yale University, where I am an undergrad.

My teachers are striking because of the teaching work they do, work that could be done by adjuncts, as The Washington Times points out, or even (gasp) by tenured faculty.

Such casualization is indeed a “sad chapter in the over-professionalization of the American university,” but a union contract — covering fair grievances, health care, child care and pay equity — is the necessary step toward fulfilling the academy’s commitment to accessibility and good teaching.

I am walking the picket lines with my teachers because I want Yale to respect the work they do and, in doing so, respect the education I receive.

PHOEBE ROUNDS

New Haven, Conn.

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