A history of terror
The article "Blamed for Hamas control, security chief quits" (World, July 27) contains a serious omission. The article refers to Mohammad Dahlan, the "former chief of the Palestinian Authority's Preventive Security Service in Gaza" as having "close ties to the U.S.," having been "mentioned as a candidate to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as leader of the Fatah party" and considered "a moderate capable of cementing peace with Israel."
However, the dispatch fails to note that Mr. Dahlan was implicated in anti-Israel terrorist attacks, including three against school buses in the Gaza Strip. One, on Nov. 20, 2000, killed two teachers and wounded nine others, including three children who had to have limbs amputated. Then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon blamed Mr. Dahlan for the attack.
Mr. Dahlan's men reportedly were involved in other deadly attacks. In addition, he was said to have helped hide Hamas' master bomb maker, Mohammed Diff, in the Gaza Strip during the Palestinian Arabs' "second intifada" earlier in this decade.
Previously, Mr. Dahlan was instrumental in the first intifada. He helped lead the Fatah youth movement (Shabiba), which contributed significantly to the violence. Arrested by Israel 11 times for his activities, he was deported to Jordan in 1988.
To omit Mr. Dahlan's past involvement in terrorism misinforms readers. An article about Mr. Dahlan's downfall should not have sanitized his ascent.
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Forge ahead like the founders
Denis Ables' Tuesday letter, "Peace at any price," fails to distinguish between the lawful use of force where the level of force doesn't infringe on the life, prosperity and rights of innocent people, and the use of lethal force in war, in which collateral damage (the loss of innocent lives) is an accepted cost of maximizing the effective killing of suspected enemy targets.
In today's world, we cannot escape war after war after war because there are no enforceable rules to serve as a just basis for settling global disputes. To achieve global peace and justice, we are in desperate need of just and enforceable global law. If and when we can achieve a degree of civilized behavior, of course there will still be need for enforcement, and for that matter, there will be a need for adjudication as well. However, it won't any longer be every "sovereign" nation-state for itself under the law of "might makes right" under which our current global anarchy operates.
There always will be the need for the use of force to capture a criminal or stop a crime in process. However, we don't use law enforcement to pre-empt drug dealers by bombing the homes or street corners of suspected dealers.
Mr. Ables is correct about the difficulty of creating global law. We would need to overcome the same problems that our Founding Fathers did in bringing our nation together more than 200 years ago. They didn't let failures stop them. We shouldn't let the failure of our support of the United Nations in preventing war stop us.
Pay attention, Americans
Exposing misadventures of an administration that has become the poster child for incompetence, misjudgment and failure should be commended ("Loose congressional lips," Editorial, Tuesday).
There is nothing secret about the fact that this administration led us into a war of choice with lies and selected facts that later proved worthless. We are mired down five years and thousands of American deaths later trying to extricate ourselves without igniting a larger conflagration in the Middle East. To provide cover for the same strategists to plan "concealed" action in an area as fragile as that between Turkey and Kurdish Iraq would be truly unpatriotic.
If the spokesman for such action Eric Edelman admits that it would have to be kept secret but also might have to be denied, how can that strategy be valid or worthwhile?
President Bush had trouble reciting the line, but fortunately, some of our leaders in Congress have no trouble saying: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."
Blowing more than smoke
A recent Op-Ed column ("Weird science," July 24) repeated a misleading quote that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, implying that I and the American Cancer Society consider the marketing of smokeless tobacco products to be a reasonable approach to help smokers quit. Although this misrepresentation was corrected in a July 25 letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, it has been seized on by tobacco industry supporters to promote this new line of products.
In reality, there is no evidence that switching to smokeless products is more effective than using one of the many proven methods for quitting smoking, and it is certainly less safe. Smokers who postpone quitting by supplementing rather than replacing their nicotine addiction in settings where they cannot smoke will only increase their risk of lung cancer and other diseases.
The last time U.S. tobacco companies aggressively marketed smokeless products, many adolescent males began using those products, but few addicted smokers used them to quit. One of the benefits of strong regulation over all tobacco products would be to prevent them from being marketed based on unproven health claims.
DR. MICHAEL J. THUN
Epidemiology and Surveillance
American Cancer Society
Patent protection is essential
Mark Chandler's Wednesday Commentary column, "Patent reform or ruin?" wrongly attempts to argue that the patent reform legislation being debated on Capitol Hill would protect innovation, but actually, it would almost certainly erect several roadblocks to innovative companies including those involved in agriculture, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, energy and consumer products that are seeking to protect their intellectual property.
Mr. Chandler attempts to underrate the importance of reliable patent protection by invoking John F. Kennedy's sentiments about the glory of confronting challenges. However, innovative industries that invest billions of dollars a year in lengthy, risky research and development already confront challenges on a daily basis. The patent system should not force additional and unnecessary complications on rightful patent holders, and it should not negate the current incentives for innovation provided by patent protection.
In fact, President Kennedy himself appreciated the value of patents to American industry. In 1961, he proclaimed the week of Oct. 15 American Patent System Week, lauding the system "which, by affording protection and encouragement to inventors as envisaged and authorized by the Constitution, contributes so greatly to the encouragement of inventive genius."
We recognize that some changes may be in order to modernize the U.S. patent system. However, no efforts at reform should be at the expense of important sectors of America's economy that rely on patent protection to support their innovative work.
Senior vice president
Pharmaceutical Research and
Manufacturers of America