- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Cash to Colombia not the answer to crisis

The Senate just last week passed the federal emergency assistance package for Colombia. As a recent Times editorial pointed out, a real emergency exists in Colombia, necessitating Senate passage of the assistance measure ("Washington's war on Colombia," June 17). I agree. However, the editorial missed an important point: American financial assistance alone will not solve the crisis in Colombia. Helping Colombia regain stability means that we first must regain balance in our own national drug policy. After all, America's drug habit is largely to blame for Colombia's woes.

The fact is that over the past decade, because our anti-drug strategy increasingly has directed resources away from important and necessary international drug interdiction and eradication efforts, drugs coming into the United States from places such as Colombia have been cheap and plentiful. For our anti-drug efforts to be effective, we must balance the allocation of resources toward efforts that stop those who produce drugs, those who transport illegal drugs into this country and those who deal drugs on our streets and in our schools.

Fortunately, Congress has prioritized the need to restore balance to our anti-drug strategy. In 1998, Congress passed the Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act, a three-year initiative to restore international drug eradication and interdiction capability, which included the first substantial investment in Colombia for counternarcotics activities. Sen. Paul Coverdell and I were the first to propose a detailed plan to assist Colombia, three months before the Clinton administration unveiled its proposal.

The bottom line is this: Unless our own national anti-drug policy is balanced and effective, improvements in Colombia from the aid will be short-lived.


U.S. Senate


Letter too tough on terrorism expert

As a Muslim professor of Middle Eastern studies who has worked with Steven Emerson, I would like to correct the inaccuracies written by Khalid M. Turaani ("Clarifications to 'Visa for terrorism,' " Letters, June 11).

Mr. Emerson in his May 19 Op-Ed column, "Visa for terrorism," was critical of the State Department for restoring a visa to Ishaq Farhan, the head of the Islamic Action Front in Jordan, even though Mr. Farhan had been placed on the Terrorism Watch List last year. Mr. Turaani rises in Mr. Farhan's defense, which is quite revealing because Mr. Farhan and his organization have issued exhortations to carry out violent terrorist attacks, "confront" the United States as an "enemy" and wage jihad (holy war).

In his defense of Mr. Farhan, the only evidence Mr. Turaani cited was that a violent threat issued to the U.S. Embassy in Jordan in 1996, faxed via the fax machine of Mr. Farhan's Islamic Action Front, was deemed "not credible" by a State Department official. As Mr. Emerson pointed out in his column, this was the very same State Department that whitewashed Mr. Farhan's support of terrorism. Contrary to Mr. Turaani's claim, the threat was signed and considered credible enough to force the U.S. Embassy to take pre-emptive security measures.

Mr. Turaani invited Mr. Farhan this year to be a keynote speaker at a meeting of Mr. Turaani's organization, American Muslims for Jerusalem. At the organization's conference last year, held on May 29, 1999, in Santa Clara, Calif., a speaker prophesied: "[T]he day of judgment will not happen until you fight the Jews. They are on the west side of the Jordan River, and you're on the east side, until the trees and the stones will say, oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him." The last time I checked, contrary to Mr. Turaani's claim, this "day of judgment" warning was not in Deuteronomy.

Mr. Turaani accuses Mr. Emerson of "blam[ing] Muslims" for the Oklahoma City bombing and the crash of TWA Flight 800. In fact, Mr. Emerson correctly pointed out that militant Islamist groups were suspected by law enforcement immediately after the bombing, an appropriate suspicion following the World Trade Center bombing and two major militant Islamist conferences held in Oklahoma City in 1992 and 1988. As for TWA Flight 800, an extremist group (Movement for Islamic Change) claimed responsibility for the impending explosion.

In an effort to impeach Mr. Emerson, Mr. Turaani claims that Mr. Emerson legally recanted his characterization of a critic named Reese Erlich as an extremist. I asked Mr. Emerson if this was so. "I never changed my comments about Erlich as an apologist for terrorist groups," Mr. Emerson said. "I did, however, correct a misstatement I made about the specific charges for which Erlich had been arrested."

Mr. Turaani wrote of comments made by Rep. John Conyers Jr. to Mr. Emerson. The record shows that Mr. Conyers was referring to Mr. Emerson's Oklahoma City comments, and not his congressional testimony, as alleged by Mr. Turaani. Mr. Turaani cites the critical comments about Mr. Emerson made by Alexander Cockburn who took a secret $10,000 grant from a group of militants, a transgression that caused him to be dismissed from the Village Voice.

The Islamist modus operandi is to distort and fabricate while denying the existence of extremism. Mr. Turaani confirmed this critical view of Islamists.



Differing views on the death penalty

I am writing in response to Wesley Pruden's June 20 column on the death penalty ("The happy hangman is a busy hangman," Pruden on Politics). As a felony prosecutor in Texas, I found some of his comments offensive. The death penalty is not a sport, and there certainly is not a "lust for blood." The decision to seek the death penalty is a difficult one and is not taken lightly let alone enthusiastically.

Some crimes, and some of the criminals who commit those crimes, are so heinous that they call out for the death penalty. A man in the jurisdiction in which I work recently received the death penalty for a double murder. After shooting his wife to death at close range with a .44, he brutally gunned down an 18-year-old store clerk when she would not get into her car with him. The episode was caught on a security video, and there is no doubt that this man committed the crime. There also is no escaping the cold-blooded nature of the crime. The young lady was a complete stranger to him, yet he took it upon himself to end her life. She received no jury, no attorney, no appeals, just an execution-style gunshot to the head.

Is Mr. Pruden offended that a white racist will be put to death for the brutal dragging murder of James Byrd Jr.? Should we have spanked him instead? Maybe the offender just needs some sensitivity training.


Montgomery, Texas


Even if George W. Bush were not the governor of Texas or a candidate for president, the death penalty should be in the spotlight ("Death chamber in the spotlight," Editorial, June 21). Despite majority support, the death penalty is morally and spiritually wrong. It is an act of vengeance that brings no real peace to the vengeful. Vengeance belongs only to our all-knowing Creator, who makes no mistakes. Life in prison without the possibility of parole should be the maximum punishment error-prone humankind should be allowed to mete out to fellow brothers and sisters who commit capital crimes.

The presidential candidates favor the death penalty. With newly released evidence showing serious flaws in implementation of the death penalty, everyone in our country needs to rethink what he or she believes about capital punishment. It will be a grand day when the death penalty is abolished forever and the issue is taken out of the hands of politicians who want to appear tough on crime. The ideal would be for all presidential candidates to oppose the death penalty.


Louisville, Ky.


Contrary to Wesley Pruden's insults, Texans do not view executing murderers as a sport. Gary Graham was convicted by a jury of his peers, and his case was the subject of more than 35 judicial or executive proceedings. I listened to the victims who survived his crime spree, including a then-57-year-old woman Graham raped at gunpoint for hours.

I trust the jurors who convicted him and the state and federal judges who upheld his conviction. They knew more about his guilt than Danny Glover, Jesse Jackson and Mr. Pruden. Graham's execution was not a sport to Texans; it was justice.

It's OK to disagree about the death penalty, but Mr. Pruden shouldn't have impugned the integrity of good people in Texas with his slurs. His readers deserve better.


The Woodlands, Texas

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