- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2001

GAO not the federal government's bookkeeper

I was surprised and disappointed by Bill OReillys April 6 Commentary column "Focusing on take-home pay," in which he criticizes the General Accounting Office (GAO) for, among other things, not having a "dollar figure on Hillary Clintons travel expenditures while she was first lady." Mr. OReilly is evidently confused regarding GAOs role and function.

The GAO is in the legislative branch of government. We work with the Congress to improve the performance and assure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. More than 94 percent of our audits, investigations and evaluations are a result of specific congressional mandates and requests.

Contrary to the inference that could be drawn from our agency´s full name, the GAO is not responsible for keeping the books and records of the overall federal government. These are responsibilities of the executive branch. As a result, any inquiries regarding such accounting information should be directed to the relevant federal department or agency, in this case, the White House.

At the request of Congress, we have performed reviews of certain White House travel expenses during the Clinton administration. These and other major GAO reports can be found on our Web site at www.gao.gov. More importantly, contrary to Mr. O´Reilly´s assertion, the more than 3,000 dedicated professionals and public servants at GAO care deeply about saving taxpayers´ money and improving the performance of the federal government.

In that regard, in fiscal 2000 alone we achieved more than $23 billion in financial savings and other accomplishments for the American people. A summary of these accomplishments is contained in our latest Accountability Report. This report and our audit of the federal government´s fiscal 2000 financial statements also can be found on our Web site.

We are proud of our role and record and hope that it will be reported accurately and in a fair and balanced manner.


DAVID M. WALKER

Comptroller General

of the United States

Washington

Bush appointment of homosexual a compromise of principle

President Bush has made his first major mistake. My more conservative friends warned me that he just might cave, but I had hoped he would take the high ground. Naturally, Im disappointed.

Mr. Bush made the very unwise appointment of Scott Evertz, the openly homosexual leader of the Wisconsin Log Cabin Republicans, as head of the new Office of National AIDS Policy ("Log Cabin Republican tagged by Bush as AIDS policy chief," Nation, April 10). Mr. Bush has tried to promote the idea that "character counts" among young people, but now he has appointed someone with highly questionable moral characteristics.

The appointment of Mr. Evertz is like appointing an alcoholic to head an office on alcohol policy or a drug addict to head an office on drug policy. AIDS is one of the most preventable diseases in existence. We know exactly how it is primarily spread in the United States: by behaviors that are illegal, immoral and just plain sinful.

The main objective of those who choose to practice the homosexual lifestyle (it is a choice, and many have chosen to leave it) is to find a way to practice their unnatural sex acts without contracting the HIV virus. No doubt, this objective will affect Mr. Evertz´s policy decisions. Tragically, this will do nothing more than help the continued spread of the virus.

The taxpayers already have spent billions in research on AIDS at the expense of other diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Because I have coronary artery disease, I have a personal stake in this decision, as do millions of others. Yet a vastly disproportionate amount is spent on AIDS rather than on the other major fatal diseases.

This is the type of appointment I would have expected Al Gore to make.


BILL WHEATON

Falls Church

China hostage negotiations reveal weakness of U.S. stance

In his April 11 Op-Ed column "Friendly fire," Tony Blankley attempts to rebut Bill Kristols analysis in the Weekly Standard that President Bush has "capitulated to the Chinese" over the EP-3 incident. He opines that nominating John Ashcroft for attorney general, holding the line on tax cuts and shooting down the Kyoto Treaty are not the actions of an appeaser something to ponder if and when a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile, built with sold and stolen American technology, arcs its way toward Los Angeles.

Mr. Bush deserves credit for the skillful way he secured the release of our hostages, but China, at this writing, has suffered absolutely no consequences for knocking down a U.S. plane in international airspace, willfully ignoring the international conventions regarding an aircraft in distress, illegally seizing both the plane and its crew, and stripping the plane, legally sovereign American territory.

We have expressed our sorrow for the death of the Chinese pilot, who was reckless enough to get himself killed while risking the lives of 24 Americans. We have expressed our sorrow that our damaged EP-3 violated Chinese airspace attempting an emergency landing instead of politely crashing into the South China Sea. What have the Chinese expressed? I would suggest contempt.

What if the 24 Americans had died? What if it had been an Iraqi fighter that had downed an American reconnaissance plane in the Persian Gulf? Would our reaction have been different? Would Mr. Blankley´s?

This was a test of U.S. resolve by an increasingly belligerent Communist China that has designs on the island nation of Taiwan. The reality of Communist China must not be obscured by fairy tales of the benefits of "engagement" and trade. Mr. Blankley suggests Mr. Kristol misreads history, but it is Mr. Blankley who ignores the fact that trade has never democratized a dictatorship or ended a threat of war.

We did not win the Cold War by trading with the Soviet Union. Is what Mr. Kristol said any more provocative than President Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union an Evil Empire? Communist China´s behavior shows it is equally evil.

Will Mr. Bush arm Taiwan as Mr. Reagan armed the Afghan rebels? Or will we express our sorrow when Taiwan falls?


DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago





Regarding the so-called letter of regret that the White House sent China for the death of the Chinese fighter pilot and the unauthorized landing of our surveillance plane in China: If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck and sounds like a duck, it is a duck. This is an apology.

Perhaps it was worth apologizing to get the EP-3 crew back. Where, however, is the Chinese letter of regret? The Chinese fighter was more agile and faster than the Navy EP-3. Does anyone really believe the EP-3 aggressively rammed the fighter that the Chinese pilot somehow could not avoid getting too close to the EP-3?

This incident occurred in international airspace, yet the Chinese refuse to apologize for the action of their aircraft. They held our crew hostage for 10 days and kept our diplomats from meeting the crew for five days. Such behavior runs contrary to international standards.

The Chinese boarded our aircraft, the sovereign property of the United States, and have removed vital equipment. They have yet to agree to the return of the plane. Where is the Chinese apology for these acts?

The United States paid reparations for the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Shouldn´t China compensate the United States for damaging our aircraft?

It seems that President Bush is captive of American business interests that do not recognize right and wrong, only profit and loss. The Republican Party used to stand for certain principles. Now it seems that just like former President Clinton it is only interested in money.


PETER PENTA

Camden, Del.

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