- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2006

Bilingual ballots?

You quote President Bush at a Cinco de Mayo celebration telling immigrants they have a responsibility to learn English (“Bush tells immigrants to learn English,” Page 1, Friday).

Why, then, is the Bush administration pushing to extend the bilingual ballot provisions of the Voting Rights Act, now up for renewal in Congress? These provisions require local electoral districts with large numbers of immigrant voters to provide them with ballots in their own language instead of ballots in English. The administration is backing these bilingual ballot provisions, even though immigrants are required by law to learn English in order to naturalize.

And why does Mr. Bush continue to enforce a Clinton-era executive order that forces government agencies to make their services available to non-English speaking immigrants in the immigrants’ native language?

If I were an immigrant, I would say to Mr. Bush, “You may not speak Spanish very well, but you are pretty good at speaking out of both sides of your mouth.”

K.C. MCALPIN

Executive director

ProEnglish

Arlington, Va.

Cape Wind

Thank you for your support of the Cape Wind project (“Cape Wind and pork-barrel politics,” Editorial, yesterday). As chief executive of the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition (OREC), I write to correct the frequently reported misconception that Massachusetts lacks authority over the Cape Wind project. The project is not located exclusively in federal waters. The wind turbines (on federal lands) will be connected to shore via a transmission cable that runs over state-owned lands.

The state must issue a lease or other authorization to allow for use of these lands. Likewise, the state must issue a finding that the project is consistent with the state’s coastal zone management plan under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

The Cape Wind “poison pill” legislation is not about giving states the right to veto projects that are in the federal interest. Most of us who deal in regulation recognize that the states retain enormous power in this regard.

More accurately, the Cape Wind legislation gives Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney the power to override the decisions his own state agencies are authorized to make.

This is not federal empowerment of a state, but instead, federal intrusion on state procedures, something I would think Republicans such as Sen. Ted Stevens or Rep. Don Young, both of Alaska, would oppose.

CAROLYN ELEFANT

Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition

Washington

The Cape Wind project has not been found to be environmentally sound by either state or federal agencies responsible for making such determinations.

The project draft Environmental Impact Statement was found grossly deficient by federal agencies and was given a Category 3 ? Inadequate rating by Environmental Protection Agency Region 1.

Massachusetts has not approved this project. Rather, only one of several permitting agencies has given preliminary approval for the cable portion of the project.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs also noted significant shortcomings in the draft Environmental Impact Statement and wrote a 26-page decision outlining additional work areas to be addressed by the applicant.

State rights were diminished by Rep. Barbara Cubin’s amendment, a developer-friendly provision added to the Energy Policy Act that bequeathed long-standing state rights to control development of our coastal waters to the secretary of the interior.

Nantucket Sound’s ferry operators and Barnstable, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard airport officials have testified that Cape Wind would pose a safety hazard in Nantucket Sound. The amendment by Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, would return the right of governance of our waterways back to the state. This prudent measure would allow the Coast Guard commandant and the governor of Massachusetts to prevent a project that would pose a navigational hazard. The Stevens amendment addresses the serious issue of public safety and so should remain in the Coast Guard bill.

BARBARA DURKIN

Northboro, Mass.

Saddam and terrorism

Joel Mowbray clearly documents “how Saddam’s thugs trained thousands of terrorists” leading “right up through 2002,” but he ignores the historical context for this “terrorist” connection (“Saddam’s ‘Blessed July,’ ” Op-Ed, Friday).

Saddam was not “interested in exporting terror” until after our attack on his military forces to repel Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Before then, Saddam was our ally. President Bush’s father’s administration actually provided Saddam with satellite intelligence to help Iraq attack Iranian forces before 1990. Saddam’s use of weapons of mass destruction against Iranians (or Kurds in Northern Iraq) wasn’t a problem then.

Second, it was Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait that led Osama bin Laden to offer his mujahedin (freshly back from their victory in pushing the Soviets out of Afghanistan) to Saudi leaders as a means of defending Saudi Arabia from Iraqi aggression. Bin Laden was confident his “freedom fighters” could defend their common homeland against Saddam’s forces. Saudi leaders rejected Osama’s offer. Instead, they allowed U.S. military forces into their holy land to repel Saddam. Osama and Saddam were enemies until then.

Last, “Blessed July” was “well under way at the time of the” U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 because Saddam was a mass murderer, not an idiot. Saddam knew he couldn’t win a fight against the U.S. military on any battlefield. He started preparing ways to punish those who sought him harm. U.S. airpower had attacked Saddam’s forces thousands of times over the past decade while enforcing “no-fly zones” over Iraq’s own territory. The United States during this time enriched Saddam via “oil for food” thefts but also killed an estimated 500,000 innocent Iraqi Muslims. Bin Laden used this as one of his top three reasons for mass murdering Americans on September 11.

Perhaps the reason the Bush administration doesn’t want to explore this telling link between Saddam and terrorism is that it undermines the administration’s primary claim that “terrorists hate us for ‘who we are’ and not for ‘what we do.’ ”

By every measurable indicator, our invasion of Iraq has increased the number of terrorists flocking to bin Laden’s ranks and decreased the long-term security of Americans. Terrorists hate us for what our foreign policy has done to millions of innocent Muslims. Mass murderers like bin Laden or Saddam will continue to use our mistakes in furthering their evil deeds. The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq gives others like them yet another excuse.

CHUCK WOOLERY

Rockville

AIPAC, free speech and the law

Nat Hentoff makes a stew of the free-speech issue (“Chilling free speech,” Op-Ed, yesterday). He fails to make the distinction between a journalist who exposes government corruption and Americans who pass classified information to a foreign government. Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) gave Israel the classified information they got from a U.S. government employee. That is against the law. The free-speech card is not a license to sell out one’s government.

JOAN SALEMI

Springfield

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