- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 30, 2000

‘Unfashionable’ nuclear power answer to California crisis

The California energy shortage may be a portent of what is to come in America during the next 50 years. Residents of the Golden State are being asked to voluntarily conserve power, for example, by shutting down Christmas decorations earlier in the evening and voluntarily cutting back on electricity use.

The situation in California is a result of a severe shortage of power plants supplying energy to the state. The current crisis won’t get much better until 2003 at the very earliest, according to state officials.

The irony of this problem in California cannot be denied.

Some of the state’s residents played a dominant role in the international anti-nuke movement. The removal of nuclear energy as a viable power source, however, is helping to contribute to the crisis in the region.

Political correctness has virtually eliminated atomic power as a reasonable energy alternative in California, thereby relegating any politician who would mention the use of nuclear energy to certain political doom.

Subsequently, a clean, safe and inexpensive source of power will not play a part in reducing an energy shortage that will only get worse. With the population in the Western United States continuing to grow, the need for power will increase exponentially. But the availability of fossil fuels including oil, coal and gasoline cannot be expected to keep pace with this demand.

Nonrenewable resources should not be used to generate large blocks of energy. We have enough nuclear reserves to supply all energy needs for 500 years. Besides being a clean and plentiful power source, nuclear energy is safe.

There have been no deaths related to the generation of nuclear energy in the United States. The only significant nuclear disaster on an international scale was caused by a poorly designed and poorly maintained nuclear reactor in Chernobyl during the era of the Soviet Union.

California’s dependence on the automobile compounds its precarious situation. Due to the sheer number of cars used by Californians and the state’s geographic makeup, fossil fuels are at even more of a premium.

Dependence on traditional energy sources comes with an environmental price as well. Power plants at dam sites in Western rivers are applying added pressure on the region’s salmon populations. Mining operations and drilling platforms also play a role in the degradation of the environment.

But misinformation concerning nuclear energy has played a significant factor in ensuring that these ecological strains continue to impact the area.

There may be a time when the myths and falsehoods concerning the dangers of nuclear energy will succumb to the realities of the demand for power and the cost to the environment. Until that time, brownouts, rolling blackouts and the calls for energy conservation will only come more frequently. It’s a price California will have to pay for being so fashionable.


Arlington Heights, Ill.

Diversity of opinions amongst blacks not a new phenomenon

Regarding Suzanne Fields’ Dec. 28 Op-Ed column, “Black power turns Republican,” I was wondering if Mrs. Fields knows that the black community has always exhibited a diversity of thought, dating back before the Civil War.

It is not something that just sprang up today with the ascension of the “Black Republican.” Colin Powell is no more the originator of conservative thought in the black community than Jesse Jackson is the originator of liberal thought. W.E.B. Du Bois (a liberal) had major disagreements with Booker T. Washington (a conservative) and his solutions to the racial problems of their time. Of course, Washington was hailed by the white political and media establishments in his time as a thoughtful, sensible “Negro” for his views.

When a writer ignores significant black history by painting all liberal blacks as succumbing to “group-think” and hailing conservative blacks as “independent thinkers,” I must conclude one of two things:

• The writer has no knowledge of black history.

• The writer knows the history but chooses not to acknowledge it because it damages his/her argument.

Regardless, in her own small way, Mrs. Fields is contributing to divisiveness between blacks and whites.


Austin, Texas

Proposed international court will protect civil liberties

Ted Galen Carpenter’s Op-Ed piece “International court pressures and perils” (Dec. 26) criticizes the proposed International Criminal Court as “a horrific institution from the standpoint of civil liberties” and concludes that it “would make a mockery of even the most basic due process guarantees.”

But the deficiencies that Mr. Carpenter cites make one wonder whether he has read the text of the proposed Treaty of Rome, which would create the court or, indeed, whether he has recently read the Bill of Rights.

The treaty contains the most detailed list of due process protections that has so far been promulgated; not better than the Bill of Rights, but somewhat more comprehensive and detailed.

Mr. Carpenter cites many areas in which the international court falls short. In each, he is glaringly mistaken. Contrary to what he suggests, there is within the treaty an express right to a “speedy and public trial” Article 67(1)(a), (c); and there is an express right to “confront witnesses” Article 67(i)e. Contrary to Mr. Carpenter’s assertion, there is no right in the treaty to conceal from the accused the “identity of witnesses.”

Moreover, the rules of procedure and evidence, which were agreed upon at Prepcom VI in June 2000 and which are scheduled for formal adoption at the Assembly of States Parties when it first meets after the Treaty of Rome comes into force, expressly prohibit the use of anonymous witnesses. (It is regrettable that the ad-hoc Yugoslav tribunal at the trial chamber level has in a few instances permitted such use, but this practice has been criticized both as a matter of principle and also as a procedure unauthorized by the tribunal’s statute or by its rules of procedure and evidence.)

There also is a prohibition in the treaty against double jeopardy in Article 20. It is true that the prosecution, like the accused, has a right of appeal under the statute, but in most European countries the trial is not over until all appeals are exhausted. Once the appellate court has finally spoken, the case is finished.

This is a far cry from Mr. Carpenter’s claim that, under the international court, a “hapless defendant could be subjected to prosecution for the same offense again, and again, and again.”

The treaty contains a long list of additional rights not mentioned by Mr. Carpenter. Presumption of innocence (Article 66(1)); assistance of counsel (Article 67(1)(b), (d)); right to remain silent (Article 67(1)(g)); privilege against self-incrimination (Article 67(1)(g)); right to a written statement of charges (Article 61(3)); right to examine adverse witnesses (Article 67(1)(e)); right to have compulsory process to obtain witnesses (Article 67(1)(e)); prohibition against prosecution for ex post facto crimes (Article 22); the right to be acquitted unless proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” (Article 66(3)); and many others.

I have left for last Mr. Carpenter’s claim that the treaty is deficient because there is no guarantee of a trial by jury. But if he will reread the fifth and sixth amendments, he will see that military personnel are specifically excluded from the guarantee of grand jury presentment and that American citizens, in general, are guaranteed jury trial only in the U.S. state “wherein the crime shall have been committed.”

No one has been so foolish as to suggest that the U.S. Constitution imposes an extraterritorial requirement that the Anglo-American jury system be adopted by foreign courts for trial of Americans when they commit offenses outside of the sovereign territory of the United States.



Monroe Leigh was legal adviser to the Department of State from 1975 to 1977.

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