- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2006

Grateful Iraqis

Last month, demonstrators protested U.S. and British involvement in Iraq instead of congratulating Iraqis for the liberation of their country. There is no doubt that the media’s one-sided, negative coverage of the situation in Iraq is encouraging the demonstrators. While the past three years have been extremely difficult with many lives lost, there is another side of the story the public is not hearing.

If the media provided balanced reporting these demonstrators would know that most Iraqis are grateful to the American people for the reconstruction effort. For example, vaccination campaigns have inoculated most Iraqi children against diseases, with lab-confirmed measles cases dropping by 90 percent from 2004 to 2005. Today, more Iraqis have access to clean water and electricity is distributed more equitably across the entire country instead of exclusively favoring Baghdad. Gone are the “mud schools” made out of dirt. Today, children learn in well built classrooms with textbooks donated by the international community.

While the political leaning motivated some protestors, others were unaware of the atrocities inflicted on the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein from the time he became president in July 1979 until his removal.

Objective historians will characterize Saddam as the worst dictator ever known throughout human history. Dictators should be judged not only by the extent of repression and genocide they inflict, but also by the lack of care for their people and the extent to which they use their power to rob the country.

Not a single action or decision made during his rule was destined to serve the Iraqi people. He used chemical weapons against the Iraqi people, killing hundreds of thousands of Kurds in the north and Shia in the south. He intentionally prolonged the U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait in order to profit billions of dollars from smuggling crude oil. Further, he exploited the Oil for Food program by pocketing millions of dollars in kickbacks. The prolonged U.N. sanctions against Iraq led to the death of five hundred thousand Iraqi children from 1991 to 1995, according to the World Health Organization.

As he used severe brutality against the Iraqi people, he continued fleecing the country of billions of dollars for himself and his entourage, building palaces, bribing people inside and outside Iraq to serve his means while Iraqis lived in dire poverty and continued to suffer from the lack of food and medicine. In effect, he turned a wealthy country into one of the poorest in the world.

When the Iraqi people rose against Saddam Hussein in 1991, he mass murdered hundreds of thousands to bring down the revolt. It was clear to the Iraqis that changing the regime without the help of the international community was not possible.

Finally, let us not forget that during the Clinton administration, the United States enacted a law that called for the “change of regime in Iraq.” This law was past in the later part of the 1990s. The removal of Saddam Hussein and the liberation of Iraq were the objectives of this law. It is also forgotten that Saddam declared in 1990 that Iraq has the binary chemical weapons that would “wipe out half of Israel” if attacked. The question of WMD is still being asked, neglecting the possibility that the Iraqi regime might have hidden or smuggled it outside Iraq.

Rather than demonstrating against the war in Iraq, demonstrators should thank the American people and the coalition forces for liberating Iraq and bringing to an end the holocaust of the Iraqi people.

MOHAMED AL-MASHAT

Former Iraqi ambassador

to the United States

North Vancouver

British Columbia

Animal owners have rights, too

In Tuesday’s editorial “A beef with USDA,” The Washington Times raises a good question: Why doesn’t the U.S. Department of Agriculture allow beef producer and supplier Creekstone to conduct 100 percent testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) for marketing purposes? The answer is simple. There isn’t a food safety test for BSE, and testing cannot guarantee an animal is BSE-free.

USDA bases testing decisions on sound science and the need to protect human and animal health. Scientific evidence tells us that the average incubation time for BSE is five years, and the disease isn’t even detectable through testing until a few months before an animal shows signs of the illness. Based on that knowledge, USDA targets for testing those animals most likely to have the disease, such as older animals showing clinical signs, rather than randomly testing all animals. Such random testing not only has no scientific basis, but would provide consumers with false assurances, as testing does nothing to ensure the safety of a company’s products.

The real protection for consumers from BSE is not based on testing, but our system of interlocking safeguards, the most important being the ban on specified risk materials from the food supply and the Food and Drug Administration’s ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban.

Since June 1, 2004, USDA has tested more than 700,000 of the most at-risk animals for BSE from across the country. Just two animals have tested positive for the disease, for a total of three U.S. cases.

The enhanced BSE surveillance effort was designed to determine the prevalence of BSE in the United States, and, based on the numbers, it estimates between four and seven positive adult animals out of the entire U.S. cattle population. We can say, based on science, that the prevalence of BSE in the United States is extraordinarily low. The testing and analysis reinforce our confidence in the health of the U.S. cattle herd, while our interlocking safeguards, including the removal of specified risk materials and the feed ban, protect animal and human health.

RON DEHAVEN

Administrator

Animal and Plant

Health Inspection Service

Agriculture Department

Washington

The Department of Agriculture is trying to implement a nationwide program to require all animal owners to use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), or to “chip” their animals and report daily any movement that involves contact with an animal from a different premises. This program supposedly is in response to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease, a brain-destroying illness. Ironically, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns now says that BSE is not a threat to the United States and that our beef supply is safe (“A beef with USDA,” Editorial, Tuesday).

So why RFID? Why implement a multimillion-dollar program to “surveil” a disease that is not found to occur often enough to be a threat and which the Food and Drug Administration has put stringent rules in place to prevent? When I have asked USDA personnel about disease threats, they have discussed foot-and-mouth disease, avian flu, brucellosis and even hog cholera, which has been considered eradicated in the U.S. for years.

The purpose of RFID seems to be to satisfy the brokers and exporters who want to sell to foreign markets but want to pay for testing their own carcasses. When high-end beef producer Creekstone asked USDA why it would not be allowed to test for BSE, the department implied that it would put too much burden on larger packers to follow suit. Mr. Johanns, what do you think it will do to small producers to have to tag or chip all their animals and place a long-distance call or buy software from you to report the animals’ daily activities? People are just finding out about this program even though it has been in planning for years. They are not happy, and many are pledging to put out of office the politicians who help this program become mandatory.

If anyone wants to sign up for this program, let that person do it — but don’t force the rest of us into it. Our rights are not for sale.

SUSIE STRETTON

Nightsong Farms

Dry Creek, La.

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