- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2000

Some authorities oppose maintaining sanctions on Iraq

Regarding Helle Bering's Sept. 14 Op-Ed column, "Crisis at the U.N.," it is misleading to say Iraq "will not allow independent experts to report to the United Nations." That's because, as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan states throughout his Sept. 8 report, he is receiving ongoing input from the World Food Program, the U.N. Office of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, the World Health Organization, the U.N. Multidisciplinary Observation Unit, the U.N. Geographical Observation Unit and UNICEF.
All these organizations, and many others, are still active in Iraq. It is surprising that Iraq is rejecting Mr. Annan's study, because the United States has demonstrated that it is content either to ignore the many existing studies or to attack their credibility.
For example, the U.N. Subcommission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights declared on Aug. 18 that the sanctions were "unequivocally illegal," but the U.S. government attacked its report as being "incorrect, biased and inflammatory."
Furthermore, Mr. Annan uses the Sept. 8 report to praise Iraq's compliance with the program in a number of areas, including health, transportation, and food and nutrition.
Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Richard Butler repeatedly has criticized sanctions, although he agrees with other observers that it would take many years for a real economic improvement to be realized. He even told the British Broadcasting Corp. on June 4, "I deeply believe that sanctions as now applied to Iraq have been utterly counterproductive to the disarmament purpose… . I also think that they've probably helped keep Saddam Hussein in power."
Miss Bering did not cite Rolf Ekeus, Butler's predecessor from 1991 to 1995, who said that Iraq had been "fundamentally disarmed" by 1995. She also did not mention weapons inspection team member Scott Ritter's more realistic suggestion that we should lift sanctions in exchange for the readmission of weapons inspectors, which Iraq has said it would support.
The column did not even address the concerns of former U.N. oil-for-food coordinators Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, both of whom resigned to protest the sanctions policy. They argue that these sanctions violate international humanitarian law (Mr. Halliday describes them as "genocide") and furthermore that Iraq has not been deliberately interfering with the program or withholding goods from anyone. This view is supported by Michael Stone, former head of the U.N. Multidisciplinary Observation Unit, which monitors the distribution of goods.
I would ask that the writer consider these concerns and re-examine the perspective she takes on Iraq. It is remarkable how much difference there is between the reports of the State Department and the reports of the U.N. workers and departments that are active in Iraq.

Anti-money-laundering bill threatens only criminals

In his Sept. 13 column, Paul Craig Roberts misstates the provisions of H.R. 3886, the International Counter-Money Laundering Act, which was approved 31 to 1 by the House Banking Committee on June 8. The bill is drafted carefully and targeted narrowly at offshore bank "secrecy" havens that serve as the financial playgrounds of international drug lords, terrorists, financial con men, arms smugglers, corrupt public officials and traffickers in prostitution and people.
The bill categorically does not, as Mr. Roberts erroneously asserts, require financial institutions to "maintain profiles of their customers' finances without a warrant, evidence or reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing," and under no possible interpretation would it "place each of us under constant criminal investigation of our financial behavior."
The vast majority of Americans are law-abiding citizens who wouldn't know the first thing about opening accounts in offshore havens in the Caribbean or remote islands in the South Pacific with names most have never heard. This bill has nothing to do with their privacy. It has everything to do with their rights to be free of international criminal predators.
There are other Americans who are engaged in international banking for business or other lawful purposes who see no need to disguise their identity and who conduct trillions of dollars of business through nations that, like the United States, subscribe to international banking standards. Those engaged in lawful banking transactions also have nothing to fear from this bill.
The only folks who need to fear for their privacy if this bill becomes law are those seeking to move the proceeds of illegal activity into the U.S. financial system through an offshore haven that countenances or openly invites money laundering.
Crime is a multi-billion-dollar business. For example, the Treasury Department estimates that illegal drug sales in this country produce profits of more than $45 billion annually. Cutting off the financial lifeblood of criminals engaged in such activity is critical to ending this threat to America's young people.
The committee's goal with this legislation is to protect American families. Mr. Roberts' reading of the bill is wrong in both its specifics and its intent.
Communications director
House Committee on Banking
and Financial Services

Column an insult to women who have served in U.S. military

You have done your readers a disservice by printing Fred Reed's Sept. 10 article, "Military service warning labels," in the Commentary section. Mr. Reed is wrong on so many counts that I don't have time to address them all. I will address only two points.
Mr. Reed says there has been a "wholesale gutting of the services by angry feminists." Claiming that "angry feminists" are responsible for years of inadequate budgets, too-deep cuts in the force structure, crumbling infrastructure and aging equipment is ridiculous. I suppose the secretary of defense, the president, Congress, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and service secretaries and chiefs those who are responsible for providing resources, leadership and management of the armed services were absent without leave or otherwise in hiding during the past eight years?
Very few women (count 'em on the fingers of one hand) are in those senior decision-making or policy-making positions within the Department of Defense, and absolutely no "angry feminists" are among them. Evidently, Mr. Reed is implying there is a group of influential "angry feminists" outside the Pentagon. That sounds pretty paranoid to me. If such a group exists, it certainly isn't as vocal or visible as Mr. Reed and his cohort of military women-bashers.
Mr. Reed insults and maligns every woman who has served this nation in uniform when he says, "The military is a good place for a woman who wants to have her baby and isn't sure which division is the father." (Note: Several thousand soldiers are assigned to an Army division; a Navy division comprises more than a few sailors.) This is a blatant slander against the honor, integrity and dignity of the more than 1.3 million American women who have served honorably in the armed forces of the United States.
If Mr. Reed had a conscience, he would be ashamed of himself. He would "be a man" and apologize. But, like President Clinton, he evidently is incapable of shame. I will waste no more words on such a shameless coward.
I am no fan of the Clinton administration. I also am fairly representative of military women, who are as concerned as military men with the decline in military readiness and who, as a group, are moderate to conservative, especially on national security issues. We are part of the solution, not the problem.
The author is a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

As a woman in uniform, I join many in objecting to Fred Reed's article of Sept. 10 in The Washington Times on the state of today's military.
Isn't it ironic that while Americans, both men and women, stand ready to defend the rights that most Americans take for granted, Mr. Reed expresses his right to free speech by slandering all women who have served their country?
If young Americans take Mr. Reed's advice, whom does he expect to defend the rights of Americans in the future? No wonder the only place most people see The Washington Times in this area is at the bottom of a bird cage.
Shame on The Times for printing such garbage.

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