- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2000

Help make Martin Luther King's dream a reality
Martin Luther King is being honored today because he was a great American. He was a model for what is best in all Americans fair play, honesty and a belief in the majesty of the law. King felt that all Americans had a right to be free and enjoy the fruits of their labor. He felt that no price was too high to pay for this dream.
In 1963, he led more than 200,000 Americans to Washington, where he gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. His dream was that all Americans would one day live in a land that would judge people not by the color of a person's skin, but by the content of character. King and his works will live on as a testimonial of man's ability to rise to new heights and work for the betterment of his fellow man.
Let us all honor Martin Luther King by working to bring peace and harmony to all so that perhaps the words he was so fond of quoting "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal" one day will become a reality. Few men, living or dead, have contributed in such a humane and positive way to the betterment and improvement of American life and the human spirit.
Chinese expert offended by insinuations of espionage
A Jan. 8 "Inside the Ring" item, "Friend of China," concerning me follows two others published in the same column in August. All three contain a mixture of facts and a lot of fiction.
The column has asserted repeatedly that I am a "pro-Beijing operative" or "mole" planted in the Pentagon by National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for Asian Affairs Kenneth Lieberthal to undermine or even replace Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Kurt Campbell. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was appointed as a Department of Defense consultant by Mr. Campbell before Mr. Lieberthal even took up his post at the NSC and the consultancy was approved by higher-level Pentagon officials.
The columnists also assert that my consultancy was "restricted" as a result of their column. The second column even asserted that my security clearance had been degraded and I was being forced to work from home. All of these accusations also are untrue. In spite of the muckraking columns, my consultancy has been reaffirmed by the Office of the Security of Defense.
It also has been asserted repeatedly that I am "pro-Beijing." If the columnists had taken time to read much of what I have published on U.S.-Chinese relations and the Chinese military much less taken the time to interview me directly they would not have used such grossly exaggerated, distorted and oversimplified depictions of my views.
The columnists' latest diatribe against me reports of a meeting I had with a Chinese colonel who was a visiting scholar in Washington last year. He interviewed me along with more than 30 other scholars, officials and ex-officials (including several high-level Pentagon officials and former Secretary of Defense William Perry). To assert that being interviewed by and providing contact information of other well-known American specialists to a visiting Peoples Liberation Army scholar "came close to assisting Chinese intelligence gathering" is equally ludicrous.
Like many other American scholars specializing in Chinese affairs, I meet with numerous Chinese visitors every year including, occasionally, some from the Chinese military. To do so is consistent with normal scholarly interaction, just as they meet with us when we visit China. (I also regularly meet with visitors from other nations.) Such discussions sometimes are illuminating about aspects of China such as the Chinese military that American experts need to understand better. To insinuate that carrying on such normal scholarly discourse is tantamount to abetting Chinese espionage is absurd..
Director, China Policy Program
Professor of political science and international affairs
George Washington University
Judge's remarks show that he cares
In the past week, there have been calls for an apology from Montgomery County Circuit Judge Durke G. Thompson for his remarks concerning the "fault" of an 11-year-old girl who engaged in a consensual sex act with a 23-year-old man. The only person who is deserving of an apology, however, is Judge Thompson. The recent hysteria generated by local officials and advocacy groups is just one more example of how political posturing and ignorance take priority over candor and truth.
The remarks in question were made during Judge Thompson's sentencing of Vladimir Chacon-Bonilla for committing a second-degree sex offense with an 11-year-old girl. Chacon-Bonilla entered a guilty plea to that offense because he engaged the girl in a consensual oral sex act. Judge Thompson sentenced the defendant to 18 months in jail. When he is released, Chacon-Bonilla will face three years of supervised probation. During that time, he will have an additional 3* years of incarceration, which may be imposed should he violate his probation, hanging over his head.
Judge Thompson, however, also stated that the girl in this case bears some responsibility for what happened. At one point, he indicated that in such an act, "it takes two to tango." State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler immediately rushed to several media outlets to criticize Judge Thompson. The National Organization for Women has called for Judge Thompson's removal from the bench.
Fortunately, our judges do not preside over difficult cases so they can simply say things that make us feel good. They don't go to work every day to decide how they can get more votes and more press coverage. They are appointed and elected to make hard decisions in tough cases. They are responsible for considering all of the facts. They preside to protect the rights of victims, witnesses and, yes, even defendants. Unless this all has been forgotten, the criticism that has been cast against Judge Thompson is disturbingly unfounded.
It is important to understand that Judge Thompson did not say that the 11-year-old girl is criminally responsible for what happened. In fact, he specifically stated that the girl bears no criminal responsibility. He simply recognized, as any rational person must, that she is not without fault.
These comments are nothing more than a restatement of the law and the facts of this case. The law under which Chacon-Bonilla pleaded guilty makes it a crime to engage in any sex act with any child under the age of 14 even though that child may consent. By his comments, his acceptance of the guilty plea and his sentence (which exceeded the recommendation of the Department of Parole and Probation), Judge Thompson showed that he clearly understood that the consent of the girl in no way alleviated Chacon-Bonilla of his criminal responsibility.
The difficult, ugly truth of this case, however, is that this 11-year-old girl did, in fact, consent to performing an oral sex act with this man. This girl had been communicating with this defendant and other men over the Internet. She also somehow was able to sneak the defendant into her bedroom at 3 a.m. while her parents were in the house.
Is there any parent out there who does not think adult supervision was lacking in that household? Is there any parent who does not recognize that this child made some poor decisions? Is there any parent who would not have an immediate and serious talk with his or her child about the dangerous consequences of such conduct? I don't think any good parent would sweep such concerns under the rug, and neither should a good judge.
The judges of this country see far too many of our children engaging in self-destructive behavior at an early age. They watch these same children grow up to be the defendants they must sentence as adults. Have we not all spent the past nine months wondering how two sets of Colorado parents completely missed the preparations being made by their sons, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, for carrying out their murder-suicide assault on Colombine High School?
Please forgive Judge Thompson for having the experience to recognize that this 11-year-old girl must not continue to behave as she did with this defendant. Forgive Judge Thompson for not letting the girl's parents leave the courtroom believing they are free from fault. Please also remember to thank Judge Thompson for being conscientious enough to care and courageous enough to say what needs to be said.
Mr. Helfand is a lawyer.

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