- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

Democrats weak on national security

Since the FBI’s wiretapping was instrumental in foiling the plot at John F. Kennedy International Airport, along with the aid of the New York Police Department, it’s high time that the Democratic Congress gives the matter of its role in this nation’s national security a higher priority and put it in perspective (“Plot to attack airport foiled,” Page 1, yesterday).

With the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers Jr., and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, concentrating on a plethora of hearings to oust Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales because of his role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, who incidentally serve at the pleasure of the president, and recalling that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bragged about “killing the Patriot Act,” voters in 2008 will be reminded that the Democratic Party is considered weak on national security.

Had this JFK plot succeeded, the chances that both Mr. Leahy and Mr. Conyers would be able to continue their U.S. attorney hearings, along with their attempts to weaken U.S. intelligence-gathering procedures would have dwindled overnight.

WILLIAM H. SMITH

Palm Desert, Calif.

Failure in Iraq

Lt. Col. Gian P. Gentile’s defense of Army leaders, while simultaneously criticizing Lt. Col. Paul Yingling for his criticism of those same leaders, totally misses the point (“A skewed perspective,” Op-Ed, Wednesday). Col. Gentile argues that because Col. Yingling in not an “insider,” he does not know what he is talking about when he accuses Army leaders of “dereliction of duty” for their role in the Iraq debacle. Because Col. Yingling was merely a tactical commander (he has had two tours in Iraq), he could not know what was going on in the minds of the generals.

Col. Gentile’s argument is specious because it requires us to ignore the facts before our eyes. True, the vast majority of Americans have not had the chance to speak to these generals, as Col. Gentile says he has. Instead, we are forced to deal with reality.

The facts are clear for everyone to see — worldwide. Army leaders, who have from the beginning of this war dominated the key military positions in Iraq, have failed miserably. America’s sons and daughters die at an increasing rate, as do Iraqi civilians caught in the crossfire between the warring factions. The country continues to slide toward chaos.

Who are we to blame if not the generals who have been in charge while conditions have deteriorated over the past four years?

Col. Gentile would ask us to deny the entire concept of accountability. Commanders are accountable; they are responsible for what happens on their watch.

Col. Gentile wants us to overlook this key notion of responsibility; he wishes us to ignore the fact that the men chosen to lead our men and women into combat have demonstrated a distressing lack of ability.

There is an old military saying that brilliant tactics cannot overcome a flawed strategy. Col. Yingling, and presumably Col. Gentile himself, were tactical commanders forced to adapt and improvise for the simple reason that their lives depended on it. But no matter how accomplished and professional individual soldiers have been in Iraq, they have not been able to overcome the incompetence of Army leaders and their fatally flawed strategy.

Their only solution seems to be more of the same — more “boots on the ground” — which will only aggravate an already bad situation while simultaneously putting more of our troops in the bull’s eye.

We must have accountability. We must determine who failed and why. We need to know this not so that we can play a blame game, but so that we can correct what appear to be systemic problems in our Army leadership.

COL. PHILLIP S. MEILINGER

U.S. Air Force (Retired)

West Chicago, Ill.

Deterrence and defense

The letter “Explaining deterrence” (Friday, Editorial) by Stanley Orman and Eugene Fox provides an excellent insight into issues surrounding plans to update our nuclear capabilities and the lack of a sound approach to national defense. As the writers correctly state, this nation needs a credible plan for how nuclear capabilities would be used in the context of an overall strategy of dealing with future military requirements, including a sound deterrence plan. Perhaps the strategy should be to establish a politically incorrect plan for how to deal with terrorist threats — like pre-emption and reliance on nuclear weapons as weapons of last resort.

I would disagree with their suggestion that further work should be halted on the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program until a deterrence plan (I would call it a survival plan) has been put in place. Both efforts should proceed in tandem. The RRW, technologically updating our stockpile, is a necessity to assure a reliable nuclear capability in the future should its use be necessary. It should not be held hostage awaiting development of various deterrent scenarios. Furthermore, tying the future of the RRW program to a congressional mandate for a nuclear posture review almost guarantees that such planning will be stretched out ad infinitum to accommodate guaranteed political posturing.

Beyond this, there is the highly questionable issue of safeguarding state secrets. As we have seen, Washington is a sieve. We need look only at examples like the New York Times revealing the top-secret National Security Agency surveillance program and the CIA’s aggressive interrogation program.

WARREN A. MANISON

Potomac

DDT is unsafe

I was very disturbed to see the recent column promoting the widespread use of DDT to control malaria in Africa ( “A deadly legacy,” Op-Ed, Thursday). Angela Logomasini’s attack on the life work of “Silent Spring” author Rachel Carson must be somehow politically motivated, as it is certainly not based in fact.

The truth is, DDT’s impacts on human health are well documented and new studies continue to show evidence of harm. Recent science shows lower sperm counts among men in South Africa where DDT is being used for malaria control, and China’s DDT-based malaria control programs are now linked to higher miscarriage rates among women.

Mrs. Logomasini also badly misrepresents the World Health Organization’s position on DDT. WHO recently affirmed its serious concern about the health affects of the pesticide, as well as its commitment to help countries reduce their reliance on DDT for malaria control as required under the international Stockholm Convention. This treaty, now supported by 142 countries and hundreds of environmental health groups around the world, allows for careful use of DDT in the short term in emergency situations while countries shift to safer — and more effective — malaria control solutions.

Yes, more effective. In the vast majority of cases, spraying with DDT is not the best way to control malaria. What we need in Africa are proven, community-based programs that include a range of tools such as bed nets, education, better health care, water drainage and improved sanitation.

It is time to move beyond the false and distracting debate over DDT. I invite Mrs. Logomasini and her DDT-promoting allies to join us in calling for effective and safe solutions to the crisis of malaria, here in Africa and around the world.

ABOU THIAM

Director

Pesticide Action Network Africa

Dakar, Senegal

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