I am pleased that both a former U.S. delegate to the Law of the Sea Treaty and a former Judge ad hoc of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea have come forward ("LOST at sea," Letters, yesterday) in response to my Wednesday Commentary "LOST and found," which, due to limited space, suffered the fate of many severely edited articles.
Regrettably, Mr. McManus has squandered his limited space by devoting it to an ad hominem attack and an advertisement for government officials, who, most likely, for political reasons, concluded that the LOST's environmental dimensions were insignificant.
Mr. McManus misrepresents and overstates the purpose of my article. It is neither a "disinformation" nor "opposition" piece. Rather, it is simply an elucidation piece intended to shine much-needed light on the LOST's many deep, broad and intrusive environmental provisions. If LOST is, as Professor Bernard Oxman describes, "the most important and comprehensive international environmental agreement in existence," Mr. McManus and he should agree that ordinary Americans ought to know about it. The American people are entitled to call upon their congressional representatives to hold open public hearings if their private property rights may be compromised and their cost of living increased as the result of U.S. LOST ratification/accession.
It would appear that Mr. McManus, a former government (EPA and NOAA) official, has stated for the record that he opposes government transparency and accountability. Why is he against the Senate holding open public hearings on LOST ratification?
They say the proof is in the pudding. Prior Senate hearings barely reserved any time for discussion of the precautionary principle save for the views of proponents. Senators failed to review and assess the advance of this controversial legal concept in international environmental law, its relationship to the LOST and its accompanying fish stocks protocol already ratified by the United States, the role that it serves within a number of other U.N. environmental treaties that incorporate it, how European or other treaty parties and environmental activists could likely invoke the precautionary principle in a LOST dispute settlement proceeding against U.S. industry and the U.S. government, and the several international trade (World Trade Organization) disputes in which the precautionary principle was aggressively but unsuccessfully invoked by the European Union. Prior hearings, furthermore, failed to examine the potentially negative impact that the precautionary principle would have upon U.S. economic and technological competitiveness, were it to be adopted as U.S. domestic law following LOST ratification.
If Mr. McManus wants proof, he should support my call for public hearings and read my forthcoming law journal article.
As concerns Mr. Oxman, I wish to make two points very clear: First, contrary to your assertion that I misunderstood what you said, you and I both know very well what Senator James Inhofe was getting at when he posed the following question to you during your March 23, 2004 testimony: "Are you certain that the treaty could not be used to impose restrictions or requirements on the United States to limit or expand current or future U.S. laws and policies?" He was referring primarily to environmental obligations, such as the precautionary principle, which could be invoked by other treaty parties pursuant to LOST Part XII,
Section 5. Second, with all due respect, America will be better able to prevent unreasonable foreign restrictions, such as imposition of the precautionary principle, on its global trade, via the WTO, not the LOST dispute settlement procedures.
LAWRENCE A. KOGAN
Frank Gaffney wrote that Russia's recent activities in the Arctic are a ploy to blackmail the United States into joining the Law of the Sea Treaty and that Navy lawyers are dubiously counting on international law instead of naval power to assure freedom of navigation ("LOST at seize," Commentary, Tuesday).
No one contends that international law is a substitute for sea power. The Navy will continue to challenge excessive maritime claims and keep critical sea lines of communication open. The navigation and overflight rights and high-seas freedoms that are essential to the global mobility of our armed forces and the sustainment of our combat troops overseas rights and freedoms our sailors and Marines go into harm's way to preserve are codified in the very convention Mr. Gaffney opposes.
Regarding maritime claims in the Arctic, five countries have the potential to gain valuable seabed areas beyond 200 miles from their shores: Russia, Norway, Denmark (Greenland), Canada and the United States.
Only we lack a critical capability in the competition for energy security: As a nonparty to the convention, we cannot maximize international recognition and legal certainty concerning the extended shelf off Alaska (and elsewhere). We also are precluded from nominating an expert to the technical body whose recommendations will lend certainty and stability to the establishment of sovereignty over an extended shelf by the other four Arctic nations.
It is the judgment of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and every living former chief of naval operations that joining the convention advances our national security.
CAPT. PATRICK J. NEHER
Deputy assistant judge advocate
International and operational law
Police chief's rising star
With regard to "Lanier vows better ties to community" (Metropolitan, Wednesday): Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier has been officially in her position as D.C.'s top cop since the beginning of 2007, and she has let no grass grow under her feet. She hit the ground running by being productive in leading her department's crime-fighting efforts. With a tough act to follow in the shoes of her predecessor, former Chief Charles H. Ramsey, she has thrown herself into the job full time and at full speed ahead.
With a multitude of crime-fighting demands and the institution of various initiatives that include her "all hands on deck" strategy that satisfies the public's demand for a greater police presence on the streets, Chief Lanier is assertively giving her all to make a dent in the continuing crime rate that plagues the city. She is empathetic to the concerns of victims and survivors as evidenced by her meeting, a few months ago, with the mother of Chandra Levy, the Capitol Hill intern whose remains were discovered in Rock Creek Park. The case, still unsolved, is one that lingers in the memory of law enforcement officials in the region, and it is one that Chief Lanier has vowed to pursue.
Selected by Mayor Adrian Fenty as the city's first female chief, expectations for her are high. Her performance is being scrutinized in many areas and, undoubtedly, she feels the pressure. She is likely working long hours at a daunting pace to make a noticeable difference. Provided she is allowed to do her job and run the department as she sees fit absent micromanagement and outside interference, she should have no problem in continuing as a fast-rising star.
KAREN L. BUNE
Department of Criminal Justice
George Mason University
Amnesty by another name
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis display an incredible ignorance of how our immigration system works if they believe that "green card" status doesn't mean a path to citizenship. It most certainly does. And they are obviously buying into President Bush's nonsense argument that amnesty is not "automatic citizenship." Again, anyone with knowledge realizes that even legal immigrants are not granted automatic citizenship before a green card ("Republicans pan Specter immigration alternative," Page 1, Wednesday).
In fact, amnesty in this context simply means waiving the usual punishment (deportation) and allowing the violator to keep what it is he broke the law to obtain, namely, a job and residency in the U.S. By that definition, Mr. Specter's plan is an amnesty, and would only encourage future immigration lawbreaking.
The American people made it very clear to our senators that a secure border and interior enforcement is a prerequisite to discussion of any other immigration matters. After two decades of ignoring the problem, Congress owes us at least that much.
MARK A. MENDLOVITZ
Beverly Hills, Calif.