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Inside the Ring
Mr. Letterman, like most other comedians, frequently pokes the terrorist group and its leaders behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed 3,000 people.
A posting Tuesday on the Arabic website Shumukh al-Islam Network, an al Qaeda-affiliated forum, quoted a terrorist named Amr Basrawi as denouncing Mr. Letterman as an “American Zionist.” It urged someone in America to follow the example of El Sayyid Nosair, the imprisoned assassin of Jewish Defense League Founder Rabbi Meir Kahane and “silence” Mr. Letterman by using terrorist methods.
A spokesman for Mr. Letterman declined to comment.
The political club they expect the Chinese to wield this time is the anniversary on Wednesday of the third U.S.-Chinese joint communique, signed Aug. 17, 1982. The communique called for Washington to “gradually reduce” weapons sales to Taiwan.
The communique states that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan would be kept at the same levels as arms supplied around the time of normalization of ties. The U.S. government interpreted the communique as allowing sales that would keep a numerical and technological balance across the Taiwan Strait.
Former State Department official John Tkacik, who was a Taiwan desk officer in the department at the time, told Inside the Ring that the day after the communique was signed, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia John Holdridge announced at a congressional hearing that the Reagan administration would sell more than 250 F-5 jets to Taiwan.
“Holdridge also went on the record at the hearings to explain that the communique did not mean the U.S. would end arms sales to Taiwan, or would consult with [China] on arms sales, or would pressure Taiwan to negotiate with China. This was the essence of Reagan’s Six Assurances,” Mr. Tkacik said.
Mr. Tkacik also said the memoir of James R. Lilley, the late former U.S. ambassador to China, included the text of President Reagan’s secret directive regarding the 1982 communique to the State and Defense departments. In it, Mr. Reagan insisted that the level of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan remain firmly linked to the military threat posed by China, and if the threat from China increased, so too should U.S. defense support for Taiwan.
Mr. Tkacik said the timing of the F-5 sale a day after the 1982 communique suggests that from the U.S. point of view, Taiwan’s request to buy 66 new F-16 jets this year would not violate the communique, as critics of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan might argue.
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About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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