- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Chief Gainer’s resignation

Chief Terrance W. Gainer’s resignation from the U.S. Capitol Police is extremely distressing news (“Capitol Police Chief Gainer resigns after hiring gaffe,” Metropolitan, Saturday). The issue that surrounds this announcement concerns an old law on the books that states family members cannot be employed in the same law enforcement agency. Chief Gainer’s son-in-law, who also resigned as a result of the controversy, was an officer on the Capitol police force for two and a half years. It is peculiarly interesting that the law was suddenly enforced and Chief Gainer was just now confronted with it.

The complete facts of Chief Gainer’s departure are likely not being disclosed; it is apparent that he has been the victim of vendetta-type behavior by a group of congressional and committee members who have not been supportive of his progressive policing strategies and his enhanced security measures that have been implemented on Capitol Hill. Chief Gainer — a veteran law enforcement officer for more than three decades — is widely respected throughout the United States and has an outstanding professional reputation.

During his tenure on Capitol Hill, Chief Gainer actively engaged his officers in training and procedures to ensure the safety of those on Capitol Hill and the surrounding region. His degree of expertise, initiative, determination and community outreach have been laudable, and he has demonstrated the epitome of professionalism throughout his tenure in the position.

A police chief of any agency — large or small — has to be allowed to do his job and exercise independent judgment and skill without interference or influence by outside partisan political entities. A chief must be permitted to exercise his authority and discretion in the ways he sees most fit. Chief Gainer went above and beyond in his selfless efforts and dedication to the department and in meeting the safety and security needs at the U.S. Capitol.

Recent congressional action that dismantled the department’s horse-mounted unit — a unit that Chief Gainer was highly supportive of — was a display of interference specifically designed to send him a message of who is really in charge. It is fair to assume that Chief Gainer could not do all he wanted to do or be the chief he wanted to be.

Chief Gainer has always served with integrity and honor. His departure from the U.S. Capitol force is a colossal loss to the nation’s capital in all respects. His myriad contributions to public service and the commitment he displayed have proven that he is, unquestionably, one of the best in the business. Chief Gainer deserves our thanks for all he has done and for the profound impact he has had on our lives. He will be greatly missed. May his new journey, wherever it takes him, be filled with the best of all that life has to offer.

KAREN L. BUNE

Adjunct Professor

Dept. of Criminal Justice

George Mason University

Fairfax

A new weapon in Iraq

The article about the AC-130 airplanes (“U.S. sends ‘flying gunships’ to Iraq,” Page 1, Monday) emphasizes the firepower of the “Spooky” gunships, but misses a very important point by emphasizing their use in firing on massed troops and calling in question its utility in an urban environment.

In actuality, the AC-130 gunships are designed not for massed targets but for close air support in near proximity to friendly troops and are perfectly suited for urban combat. A good portion of the insides of these aircraft are taken up by elaborate fire-control and targeting systems, including radar, infrared and low-light sensors, which enable the crew to aim the weapons precisely.

PAUL BLASE

Alexandria

Combating obstetric fistula

I applaud The Washington Times for shedding light on the horrors of obstetric fistula (“Ethiopia’s trail of tears,” Page 1, Sunday), which afflicts millions of women the world over, but is largely unknown here in the United States. Anyone who reads your wrenching story will be motivated to combat this debilitating condition and help its victims.

I hope that the more people learn about obstetric fistula, the more we can build support for the people and organizations that are working to prevent this condition and repair the lives of the women who have been afflicted. I have introduced legislation that would contribute $34 million to the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) for its Campaign to End Fistula, which is almost half of what that organization is seeking from worldwide contributors over a five-year period.

Passing this legislation would be a tremendous display of our nation’s compassion. UNFPA has extensive experience in preventing and combating obstetric fistula and is already on the ground, working hard in every affected nation. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we should be reinforcing UNFPA’s valiant efforts.

Today is International Women’s Day. It would be wonderful if we in Congress could agree to give the women afflicted with fistula worldwide a real reason to celebrate the occasion.

REP. CAROLYN MALONEY

Washington

We commend you for highlighting the tragic childbirth injury, obstetric fistula. It takes journalistic courage to run a front-page story on a condition which causes incontinence and, when left untreated, results in its victims leading lives of devastating social and physical ostracism.

The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, profiled in your article, was founded more than 30 years ago by Dr. Catherine Hamlin and her late husband, Reg. Free of charge, it has cured more than 25,000 otherwise forgotten women. The hospital is the first and only hospital in the world dedicated to fistula treatment and also to teaching practicing obstetrician-gynecologists from around the world; that has included doctors from Chad, Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh and Mozambique. To date, more than 100 surgeons from more than 25 countries have trained at the hospital in fistula repair.

The fistula hospital is expanding, building five “mini-hospitals” in cities throughout Ethiopia to fight fistula by both prevention and treatment paid for by donors from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries. While the root causes of fistula — grinding poverty and the low status of women and girls — are seemingly intractable, the pioneering work of the Addis Ababa hospital demonstrates that much can be done, even under the most challenging of circumstances.

We also commend congressional leaders Reps. Chris Smith and Carolyn Maloney for sponsoring legislation to direct U.S. funding to fistula treatment and repair. Lastly, for your readers who may be interested, they can get more information about the work of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital through the Fistula Foundation here in the United States at www.fistulafoundation.org.

KATE GRANT

Executive director

Fistula Foundation

Santa Clara, Calif.

Thank you for shedding light on obstetric fistula, a long-neglected childbearing injury. Preventable and treatable, fistula is a condition no woman should have to endure. Yet at least 2 million women in resource-poor countries remain untreated.

Inspired by the work of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia, the U.N. Population Fund launched a global Campaign to End Fistula in 2003 focusing on three key areas of intervention:prevention, treatment and rehabilitation for women after surgery. The campaign is now helping women in more than 30 countries in Africa, South Asia and the Arab region.

Ending fistula is a long-term goal that demands financial resources, political will, strong partnerships and concerted efforts. Together, we can restore health, hope and a sense of dignity to women living with this devastating condition. Together, we can make safe and healthy childbirth a reality for all women.

SAFIYE CAGAR

Director

Information and

External Relations Division

UNFPA

New York

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