Bruce Fein's Tuesday Commentary column on the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby case failed to present anything more persuasive than generalized pontifications ("No liberty for Libby"). Mr. Fein reminds all of the old adage about how to argue when neither the law nor the facts are on your side.
Ann Coulter has said it best in cutting to the heart of comparing the Clinton impeachment to the Libby trial — it's not possible to forget having had sexual relations with someone, while it is possible to forget to whom you first told an item of moderate interest. Reasonable doubt is a pillar of the law, too, and I have yet to read or hear evidence that passes that standard in the prosecution of Mr. Libby for supposedly lying about a non-crime.
Prosecutors such as Patrick Fitzgerald and Johnny Sutton (the even more abusive U.S. Attorney who railroaded two Border Patrol agents for doing their jobs) are the real danger to our republic. They are as eager to recklessly disregard proportionality and the Bill of Rights to take a man's freedom as movie cop Dirty Harry was to unleash his .44 Magnum. At least the famous Clint Eastwood character was justified and skillful.
Mr. Fein has taken quite a fancy to attacking supposed abuses via the Patriot Act, etc. His Libby essay shows that he doesn't have the balanced perspective that the "devoted to restoring checks and balances and protections against government abuses" part of his byline claims.
DAVID Y. CHIU
La Raza's work
In his May 31Op-Ed column, "La Raza and Americans," Jim Simpson railed against bipartisan legislation that would provide funding for community developmentandaffordable housing programs for low- and moderate-income Latino families administered through the organization I lead, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR).
He asserts that lawmakers from both political parties somehow have been duped into supporting what he calls a "radical immigration group." Presumably Mr. Simpson disagrees with NCLR on the difficult question of immigration policy. Fair enough. However, immigration is a small part of NCLR's work, representing slightly less than 2 percent of our budget. Readers deserve a more accurate picture than Mr. Simpson presents.
Over the past two years, NCLR and its affiliates have helped more than 5,000 low-income Latino families purchase their first homes. Last year, our affiliates added 15 new charter schools to a network of 100 such schools, providing quality education to more than 25,000 Latino children every year.
The health clinics we have helped build and the lay health educators we have helped train provided care and information about prevention and detection of serious illnesses to nearly 100,000 people last year. These are the programs NCLR's network of 300 affiliates operates in the service of communities and the country. They are the heart of NCLR's work, and together we have been engaged in this work for nearly 40 years.
It's easy to be confused about whom NCLR and its affiliates are serving; most of the coverage of the Latino community these days focuses on aliens who are in this country illegally. However, the vast majority of Latinos in the United States are American citizens by birth, often from families whose history in this country dates back for generations. Our job is to make sure the American dream is available to all Americans of Hispanic descent.
NCLR does indeed work on the immigration issue. Our current work on comprehensive reform is supported not only by an overwhelming majority of Latinos, but by a majority of Americans overall. Mr. Simpson may not agree with NCLR's position on comprehensive immigration reform, but he can hardly claim that we are not aligned on this issue with our community or with the country's political mainstream.
Mr. Simpson spends most of his energy on our connection with MEChA, a student organization whose '60s-era founders put some inflammatory language on paper. We strongly disagree with the dated language in MEChA's charter, and we have said so publicly, but we did provide a single $2,500 grant to the MEChA chapter at Georgetown University several years ago for a gathering of students from East Coast colleges who could not afford to travel home for Thanksgiving.
The one thing Mr. Simpson gets right is that we have friends in both political parties. We believe this is because of the quality and effectiveness of our work and our proven record on improving opportunities for Hispanic Americans. Mr. Simpson argues that the professional look of our Web site has duped them into believing we are something we are not. I give them more credit than that.
Those from both parties who support us have done their homework and have decided that an organization committed to helping Hispanic Americans realize the American dream is an organization worthy of their support.
National Council of La Raza
Jefferson's freezer cash
The reputation of the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana as capitals of corruption surely have been enhanced with the indictment of Rep. William J. Jefferson on a host of serious and unseemly charges of thievery and fraud ("Jefferson charged in bribery and corruption," Page 1, yesterday).
It will be interesting to learn Mr. Jefferson's explanation for the presence of $90,000 in cash found in his freezer two years ago, a place most people would consider an odd receptacle for such a mammoth kitty. I also look forward to learning why, if Mr. Jefferson is the angel he has been portrayed as by his attorney, two persons involved in the case have exchanged their cooperation for plea bargains and accepted prison terms.
It is regrettable that someone who has been indicted under these circumstances may continue to enjoy the trappings of office and engage in the hoax that he is serving the public. What relevancy can such a person have, and what can he hope to accomplish when thick, ominous storm clouds of suspicion hang over his every move?
If Mr. Jefferson has committed the acts of which he is accused, he must pay dearly. Acts like those spawn citizen apathy, scorn and disgust for government, all of which poison our nation.
OREN M. SPIEGLER
Upper Saint Clair, Pa.
Giuliani and abortion rights
Ken Connor, chairman of the Center for a Just Society, discussed Rudolph W. Giuliani's spinning of his unabashed support of "abortion rights" to win over pro-life voters in the Republican presidential primary, saying he "hates" abortion ("Tap dancing around abortion," Commentary, Sunday). Mr. Connor stressed the obvious conflicts in Mr. Giuliani's positions and his attempt to verbally finesse the immoral killing of the preborn to win the presidential nomination.
Mr. Giuliani also has tried to finesse his contributions to the leading U.S. abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, saying that Planned Parenthood provides information to women. However, Planned Parenthood always seeks to prevent legislation that would ensure that women are informed about fetal development, the risks of abortion and help that is available to women if they want to keep their babies. For example, Planned Parenthood is opposing such legislation in Rhode Island. Kristina Diamond of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island testified against the measure and claimed that giving women information about abortion's dangers is "insulting" to women.
Planned Parenthood always opposes legislation that would require that a parent be notified if a minor daughter seeks an abortion. For example, it is fighting such a law in New Hampshire. Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles was selected as The Washington Times' Knave of the week on May 19 for failing to report a statutory rape. There are similar cases in Arizona, Ohio and Connecticut.
Mr. Giuliani should tell voters whether he will continue to contribute to Planned Parenthood.