- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2000

CIA analysts are not pro-China apologists

I am writing to register a strong objection to the section of the Oct. 27 Inside the Ring titled "Target: CIA China shop."

You characterize several CIA employees as pro-China apologists and charge that they have bent our China analysis to fit some preconceived notion.

This is not only false, but it also assails the integrity of outstanding analysts. These are dedicated professionals who observe the highest standards of analytic tradecraft and whose work has reflected a balanced appraisal of China, including the risks for the United States that you say they ignore.

Analysis is by definition a contentious business, and we expect and welcome vigorous, even fractious, debate about our conclusions. Your article goes further, however, to suggest that CIA personnel must pass some sort of test to determine whether they start with certain preconceptions and that only some preconceptions are acceptable.

This would be the surest way to bring about the politicization of analysis that your article deplores. And it would run totally counter to the reason the CIA was created to provide national leaders with objective appraisals driven not by a preordained mindset or by what people want to hear but by the facts and what can be inferred from them, regardless of where the chips may fall.





Officers' vote may not represent that of military as a whole

The headline of the Oct. 30 article "Most in military plan to vote for Bush-Cheney ticket on Nov. 7" is misleading to those unfamiliar with the structure of the U.S. military.

While accurately reflecting the decidedly Republican nature of the officer corps, the article makes no reference to the enlisted men and women who also serve their nation and who make up a large majority of those in uniform. Those enlisted members, who are neither quoted or mentioned in the article, comprise around 85 percent of America's armed forces. As a whole, they also tend to vote Democratic more often than the officer corps.

It is fair and relevant to comment about the support Republicans have among officers, but it is important not to just assume that such enthusiasm is reflected with the same intensity at all levels.


Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Electoral college unpopular with advocates of direct election

Paul Greenberg defends the Electoral College as a remarkably effective way of electing presidents ("A force that holds the process together," Commentary, Oct. 30).

Well, let's see what happens on Election Day. A reasonable chance exists that Vice President Al Gore will win the Electoral College vote even if Texas Gov. George Bush wins the popular vote. The Democrats currently have a small advantage on the electoral map not because they adhere any more to the principles of our Founders, but because the luck of the draw and the lay of the electoral landscape have given them the advantage.

Mr. Greenberg is right that the country will not collapse if popular will is thwarted. But you will have millions of angry Americans, the great majority of whom already support direct election of the president.

In this age of increasing distrust of the political process, we cannot afford to have popular will thwarted by opaque rules that cannot be explained to our own people. The long history of direct election of all of our other significant offices should give some comfort to those worried about reform.

Those who support the Electoral College out of an interest in ensuring that winners have support from a range of states should be satisfied by requiring winners to earn a majority of the vote through run-off elections or instant run-off voting.

Direct election with majority rule: That defines democracy to Americans far more than the Byzantine quirks of the Electoral College.


Executive director

Center for Voting and Democracy

Takoma Park

Tenleytown community wants tower taken down

At least Bob Morgan of American Tower and the residents of Tenleytown agree on one thing: Mayor Anthony Williams should "uphold the rule of law" when deciding the fate of a controversial telecommunications tower proposed for construction in Tenleytown ("Politics towers above," Oct. 23).

However, on the basis of the law, many of us who reside in Tenleytown have arrived at a different conclusion than that of American Tower. We believe the company erred in its choice of a site and must dismantle the partly built structure.

Mr. Morgan stresses repeatedly in his article that his company was issued a permit. On closer examination, city officials found notable flaws in the permit process. It remains to be determined why the permit was issued when local zoning laws should have prevented it and whether the company represented its intentions accurately in its permit application. In any case, the mayor revoked the permit because its validity was thrown into doubt.

Instead of resolving this amicably, American Tower has sued the city for $250 million $245 million more than the actual cost of the tower in a case to be heard by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman.

Beyond the legal issues, this matter goes to the heart of corporate responsibility and public trust which may explain why Mr. Morgan spends much of his article appealing to the court of public opinion.

"American Tower works closely with local jurisdictions and residents," says the company's Web page, "to create win-win solutions for communities with growing telecommunication needs." To declare this is one thing. To act on it is another. Why did the company exclude the residents rather than "work closely" together? Why has Mr. Morgan never spoken to us or sought our ideas for a "win-win" solution? We learned about the tower only after the workers had broken ground to lay the foundation.

With 40-some towers in this area, American Tower has enjoyed considerable support from our city. By now it ought to know the ropes of tower building, including the need to cooperate with those whose health and welfare such a structure would affect. It was as inappropriate to plan this tower without consulting residents beforehand as it would have been for us to build a giant incinerator next to Mr. Morgan's home in Massachusetts without so much as a how-do-you-do.

Most of the hundreds of neighbors working to remove this tower from its highly inappropriate location near a sidewalk in a heavily traveled corridor have never been involved in politics before. People beyond Tenleytown are also concerned. Children who attend the many schools near the tower, including Wilson High and Deal Junior High, arrive every morning from neighborhoods as distant as Brookland and Adams Morgan. Thousands of commuters who work in this community hail from Virginia and Maryland. This structure would affect each child or worker as surely as it would a homeowner or renter.

With so many schools in the path of the tower, no environmental impact statement performed, so many towers in this vicinity already, and other pressing issues such as zoning at stake, we deserve a better outcome than the company has planned. We believe, both for legal and ethical reasons, the tower should never have been placed where it is. Our goal is to rectify this situation immediately and help ensure it never happens anywhere else in this city or country again. American Tower should live up to its promise to work with the city and residents together to create a better solution.

Mr. Morgan has characterized these events as a "battle." That might explain why his company is flying an American flag from the half-erected tower, as if to imply it's unpatriotic to ask that one's voice be heard. We prefer to see it as a continuing negotiation. American Tower can rethink its position as has been an option from the very beginning about where it can best locate a suitable tower for maximum effect and minimum risk to all the people of the District of Columbia.



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