- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Article misrepresents FBI case against scientist

In the Dec. 20 edition, The Washington Times ran an Associated Press article with the headline “Scientist Lee will retaliate with suit.” It would be inappropriate to comment about impending civil litigation, but included in the article is the suggestion that FBI Director Louis Freeh asked Congress not to hold hearings on the Wen Ho Lee prosecution because “hearings … could divulge government dissension and doubts in the Chinese espionage investigation…”
That is simply wrong and misrepresents both the underlying investigation and the 59-count indictment by a grand jury last week. Here is why.
The FBI for some time has been conducting an investigation into the potential release of classified information about the W-88 nuclear warhead to China. Though the current charges against Wen Ho Lee clearly arose from that broader counterintelligence investigation, the charges in the indictment are distinct.
Second, the issues and “doubts” described in the article also are not connected to any activity alleged in the 59-count indictment. They relate exclusively to activity that may have occurred more than 10 years ago and are the product of our own vigorous self-examination of the prior W-88 investigation, not the current indictment.
Third, in response to congressional requests, Mr. Freeh has given a congressional subcommittee unprecedented access to raw FBI files about possible nuclear espionage, specifically including those matters highlighted in the Associated Press article. Thousands of pages have been disclosed. That process continues unabated.
Mr. Freeh’s request on behalf of the Department of Justice is only that a congressional subcommittee not take actions that could, given that an indictment has been returned, interfere with the criminal prosecution process. The subcommittee agreed.
The 59-count indictment follows a massive investigation involving more than 1,000 interviews and the examination of more than 1 million computer files. Our only concern is that both the government and the defendant have a fair opportunity to present their cases in court.
Assistant director
Office of Public and Congressional Affairs

Montgomery County should not have cut art or music classes

I find it shocking that the Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously this week to substantially cut music and art classes from the kindergarten curriculum (“Kindergartners to have less of do-re-mi, more ABC, 1-2-3,”Metropolitan, Dec. 15). The Washington area is home to some of the finest museums, theaters and musical organizations in the country. Instead of celebrating and nurturing our cultural resources, the school board is saying that they should be pushed out in the hope that standardized test scores will improve.
What evidence does the county have for making music and art the culprits for poor results on multiple-choice tests? Does the county discount the value of teaching students a love of music and the arts? This is a slippery slope for both education and the arts in the Washington area.
Silver Spring
Steve Appel’s response to my Dec. 6 Op-Ed column, “The cost of research,” makes some statements and accusations that require a response on my part. In his letter to the editor (“Consumers pay a heavy price under the guise of research and development,” Dec. 13), Mr. Appel writes that I have “made a healthy living off brand industry handouts” and appears to be attempting to besmirch me and my reputation, implying that I am simply a “hired gun,” like himself. (His organization is supported by generic companies, which benefit from the research conducted by others.) During my academic career I have received little support from pharmaceutical companies and have never been commissioned by any organization except the generic industry to perform any policy-related analysis.
I do not act as a lobbyist for any firm, but as an advocate for the protection of intellectual property rights and the need to fund research. Mr. Appel quotes from a study performed by the University of Minnesota that claims patent extension for certain drugs would cost consumers $11 billion. That study was funded by the generic manufacturers for whom Mr. Appel works. My own analysis shows that the Minnesota study exaggerated the true costs tenfold and ignored the benefits of new medicines that would be discovered because of the sales made possible through patent extension.
Unlike Mr. Appel, I have no financial stake in the debate over patent extension, and my livelihood is not affected by the results of the legislation of which he speaks. My interests lie mainly in getting the entire story to the American people and making sure, when possible, that propaganda presented in the guise of “research” or “public interest” is exposed for what it is.
Associate professor of pharmacy administration
University of Mississippi
Oxford, Miss.

Wall to separate Gypsies from neighbors an embarrassment to Czechs

The Washington Times has reported on the wall at Usti nad Labem since its construction last October to separate a Gypsy community from its neighbors in this northern Bohemian town in the Czech Republic, (“Tensions remain after Czech town tears down its wall of shame,” Nov. 28). The wall has been an embarrassment to the Czech Republic and has become a stumbling block to the nation’s entrance into the European Union.
Why did this wall cause such an outcry from human rights groups? Was it because it was a reminder of the ghettos that separated Jewish communities from the rest of society during the Nazi era? Was this wall an atypical act or the result of a systemic problem of intolerance?
Fortunately, the Czech government, under the moral authority exercised by President Vaclav Havel working with local officials, brought the wall down to end at least for the moment the cancer that was destroying the soul of a community and the effectiveness of the course of the rule of law the Czechs were pursuing. Some will say the payment of $286,000 to the municipal government to dismantle the wall and use the proceeds to improve social conditions was unseemly. What the critics fail to acknowledge is that the wall is down and that the rule of reason prevailed when human rights won out in the struggle against bigotry. The Czechs have indeed come a long way since the Velvet Revolution of 1989 in the application of the rule of law and use of peaceful means to resolve complex and ancient animosities.
Lest we forget our own experience in race relations, a concrete example comes to mind. Near the turn of the century, a developer built a wall in Arlington County, a progressive community by any measure, barely two miles from the Supreme Court, that divided the Halls Hill neighborhood of predominantly black residents from a new subdivision of white residents. The community streets stopped at that line. It wasn’t until decades later that those streets became thoroughfares for both communities. That wall also became a symbol like the wall at Usti that required direct action by the local government to bring it down and eliminate a division between the two communities.
So it is with the wall at Usti. The real work is only beginning to provide equal rights to the Gypsy minority. Members of the Gypsy community also must act as responsible citizens in conducting their lives as part of a functioning component of an emerging civil society. Usti is a clear example and lesson for all of us not only that we must be vigilant in destroying the barriers of racial hatred that separate us, but that these problems are systemic in nature and will require constant efforts on our part and responsible governments built on the rule of law.
American Friends
of the Czech Republic

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