- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A small price for safety

Anyone who has stood in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles can appreciate the doubts Jacob Sullum expresses (“Can DMV foil terrorists?” Commentary, Monday) in the ability of our local DMVs to enforce the Real ID Act and its common-sense requirement that people who want to fly or have access to government buildings ought to be able to prove they are who they say they are.

But waiting a little longer in line at the DMV is a small price to pay to avoid the same fate as those who went down in those planes September 11.. And it doesn’t make a driver’s license any more of a national ID card than it already is, only a little more effective.

Need we be reminded that one of the first things the September 11 terrorists did when they arrived in the United States was to get driver’s licenses. They traveled all around the country, to states that granted licenses to just about anybody, acquiring 63 of them.

They knew that the driver’s license is already a sort of national passport that allows the holder to open bank accounts, rent housing, rent vans and board planes. It was the document they used to enroll in flight school.

Mohammed Atta had a valid Florida’s driver’s license and Nawaf al-Hazmi, the September 11 hijacker believed to have flown the plane that hit the Pentagon, had a California license without providing a valid Social Security number.

Hijackers Hani Hanjour and Khalid al-Mihdhar obtained Virginia licenses by hiring an illegal alien to co-sign their residency forms and listing his address as theirs. The next day, they sponsored two other hijackers, Salem al-Hazmi and Majed Moqed, who also got a Virginia license.

In the floor debate on Real ID, Rep. Tom Davis, Virginia Republican, said: “When I get on an airplane and someone shows ID, I’d like to sure they are who they say they are.” So would I. As we have seen, a license to drive can also be a license to kill.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago

Nationals’ TV deal revisiteda

Your May 8 editorial concerning the Washington Nationals’ television arrangement and its potential effect on the club’s competitiveness (“Angelos’ foul TV deal”) is replete with errors of fact and logic. If the “industry source” you cite as authoritative even exists, his or her connection with the issues you discuss is so attenuated that his or her comments are useless.

On all important factual points, your editorial is wrong. Under the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network agreement, the Nationals will never receive below-market rights fees.

The agreement provides an unprecedented mechanism to regularly adjust rights fees based on the demographics of the D.C. market alone. No other Major League Baseball club enjoys such a guarantee.

Neither Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos nor his club have control of the Nationals’ television rights. Operations, scheduling and production-quality disputes that may arise between MASN and the Nationals are subject to resolution by the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.

MASN is obligated to pay the market-based rights fee to the Nationals regardless of the success or profitability of MASN or, indeed, whether it is ever launched. The initial payment (the fees escalate over time) places the Nationals in a position relative to all Major League Baseball clubs that is completely consistent with Washington’s ranking as a media market. Your argument on this point is specious.

Capital payments to MASN are the responsibility of Major League Baseball. Prospective owners of this franchise are aware of all details of this agreement, and their bids will be conformed to their expectations concerning its benefits.

Your great city deserves better and more responsible reporting and editorial opinion.

JOHN MCHALE JR.

Executive vice president

of administration

Major League Baseball

New York

Newsweek’s blunders send troubling message

Although it was highly disturbing to read and hear about Newsweek’s blunder reporting a Koran was flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which caused unnecessary riots and deaths in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries, it comesasnosurprise (“Newsweek apologizes for Koran article,” Nation, Monday).

Newsweek not only got it wrong, but it poured salt in the wounds when its entertainment critic followed up by declaring a link between the Bush administration and the “dark side” in the new “Star Wars” movie.

It is becoming painfully clear that America’s so-called mainstream news media have been recklessly advancing an anti-Bush political agenda with relentless negative reporting about the conflict in Iraq — demoralizing our people, our military and their families, hurting military recruitment, and inflaming non-Iraqi terrorists to cross the border. This has undoubtedly caused additional deaths of our soldiers and innocent Iraqi civilians, and increased the threat to our national security.

DANIEL B. JEFFS

Apple Valley, Calif.

Toward peace in Northern Ireland

Anthony Healy states, “Britain’s new Northern Ireland secretary insisted at the end of a weeklong tour of the territory yesterday that, despite recent setbacks, the parties must keep working toward reconciliation,” (“Envoy takes on Northern Ireland,” World, Monday). And I certainly agree with that assertion. However, the last line in the article says, “Unionist hard-liners have said that there will be no chance of a power-sharing executive ‘for a generation.’ ”

This sort of protracted obstructionist agenda, coupled with Ian Paisley’s endless, sectarian rants, underscores exactly where Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain’s focus should be directed while he sets about seeing the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) fully implemented. This was promised by both Prime Minister Tony Blair and An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

The GFA requires change. And if that change is to become reality, then the obstructionists must be faced down and made to come to terms with the overwhelming will of the people throughout the island of Ireland, who want a fully implemented GFA, and the promise it holds for finding ways for Unionists and Loyalists, Nationalists and Republicans to find common ground.

This must be achieved in a realistic way; with firm resolve from both governments working in tandem.

The bad old days of exclusion and marginalization that Mr. Paisley helped to heap upon the Nationalist and Republican communities throughout the long years of the Troubles should not be tolerated in 2005; as people of goodwill seek to find a lasting peace, true justice, and the social and economic equality promised within the GFA.

Mr. Paisley should be deprived of having his “No” agenda taken seriously any longer. Change is what is required. Stalling is a tactic that will only keep people bogged down in the mire of the failed status quo.

Mr. Paisley’s sectarian game of blame and shame forces people outside the terms of the agreement and away from the desired healing effects of true reconciliation. It is dangerous retrovision. The governments should force his Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to move on.

It must be made clear to the DUP obstructionists that any agenda outside of the Good Friday Agreement will not be allowed to stall the overdue changes that are required any longer.

This is vital to the success of a lasting peace and reconciliation in the north of Ireland.

MICHAEL KERRY

San Luis Obispo, Calif.

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