- The Washington Times - Friday, April 13, 2001

Reader reconnaissance of China situation

Since the media began its coverage of the emergency landing of the Navys EP-3 plane in China, the constant reference to the EP-3 as a "spy plane" has irritated me.

First, calling the EP-3 a "spy" plane is inaccurate and creates the wrong impression of the plane´s true purpose. It shows how unintelligent the media are unless, of course, their purpose is to disseminate the falsehood that the aircraft is an asset for "spying." It is not. Rather, the EP-3 is a reconnaissance aircraft. Even Webster´s recognizes this distinction: "reconnaissance a preliminary survey to gain information spy to watch secretly, usually for hostile purposes."

The EP-3 hardly works in secret, but it does survey to gain valuable information about potential adversaries so that we may be better prepared should a confrontation with them occur.

Reconnaissance is a simple military function that all countries do. Spying is a well recognized offense throughout the world for which spies can pay dearly.

The simple distinction between the two words may be lost on some but there is a profound difference. And, with all our media calling the aircraft a "spy" plane, they are also saying, by implication, that the crew are spies. The word "spy" may be easier to say than the word "reconnaissance," but that laziness builds the false notion that the crew was doing something illegal, something for which their Chinese captors could prosecute them. The media should be far more careful of their choice of words. They could have influenced the fate of the crew held hostage by the Chinese.


Captain, U.S. Navy (retired)


Congratulations on running the superb April 9 story, "U.S. plane wasn´t spying." The other papers´ headlines described those 24 brave naval flyers as the crew of a "spy plane," condemning them to the same category as the Hanssens, Walkers, and Rosenbergs of the world. I served in the United States Air Force for 24 years as a crew member/linguist on a reconnaissance aircraft. I know how important those missions are to our national security. Security requirements dictate that the details of these important reconnaissance missions remain somewhat cloaked in secrecy, but it was truly refreshing to see a generally accurate and supportive account in the press

Well done to The Washington Times for displaying the good sense to set the record straight.


Manchester, N.H.

Annan has earned his global acclaim

I appreciate your March 31 editorials endorsement of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to another term as head of the world body ("Keep Annan on, for now"). It was also revealing to read the tirade against Mr. Annan by Cliff Kincaid, with whom Ive discussed the U.S.-U.N. relationship personally ("Support for Annan not befitting of 'Americas Newspaper"). Mr. Kincaids group, Americas Survival, Inc., is dedicated to one aim leading the American public to believe in a threat that does not exist. Rather than propose effective solutions that are in Americas economic and political interest, he instead insults a man who has worked closely with American leaders to address their concerns over U.N. dues, debt relief (which even Sen. Jesse Helms now supports), and reform of the world organization.

Whether Mr. Kincaid likes it or not, America does have interests abroad. The millions of U.S. tax dollars in foreign aid that supported the Marshall Plan has paid us back in spades through a strong European market for American goods and strategic alliances for America´s interests. Mr. Kincaid misleads readers by implying that Mr. Annan´s support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, actions against global warming, and prosecution of war criminals is completely at odds with the feelings of Americans and their representatives. He knows such treaties have either never come before the Senate or failed by the smallest of margins. He fails to mention that in every country where family planning is permitted, the number of abortions drastically decrease. Unfortunately, the current administration seems intent on increasing the number of abortions worldwide through the Mexico City policy, seemingly to Mr. Kincaid´s approval.

A fact conspicuously absent from his letter is that there are currently no U.S. troops serving on U.N. peacekeeping missions and that countries such as Fiji and Bangladesh provide more men and women in support of ending war. Yet he feels compelled to demand reimbursement for missions in which the United States rejected U.N. leadership and support and for which American soldiers were protecting primarily U.S. interests unilaterally or through NATO. In the same paragraph, he continues the myth that the secretary-general, not the U.S.-led Security Council, failed to send reinforcements to Rwanda. Lastly, rather than note that the United Nations has a total budget less than that of McDonald´s and less than many U.S. cities he cites a large scary amount out of context.

Mr. Annan´s leadership has earned him the respect of such former critics as Mr. Helms and The Washington Times. It appears now that Mr. Kincaid is crying in the wilderness against a threat even "America´s Newspaper" knows doesn´t exist under Mr. Annan.


Director of Communications

World Federalist Association


The best of justice, the worst of publicity

Regarding those who support Timothy McVeighs desire to have his execution broadcast publicly, a response is in order ("Witness to the execution," Op-Ed, April 9). Charles Dickens wrote to The London Times on Nov. 14, 1849:

"I am solemnly convinced that nothing that ingenuity could devise to be done in this city, in the same compass of time, could work such ruin as one public execution, and I stand astounded and appalled by the wickedness it exhibits."

The last public execution in England took place 19 years later.


St. Petersburg, Fla.

More gimmicks from the greedy

In response to your March 29 story, "Senate OKs increase in car registration fees," which reported a $3 addition to Maryland vehicle registration costs, I can only say that the greedy politicians in Annapolis never give up taxing the public. According to Baltimore Democrat Sen. Barbara Hoffman, this fee will pay for emergency medical services. That is just another gimmick to rip-off the taxpayers, who already pay hefty fees if and when they use emergency medical services in Maryland. Maryland residents need to wake up and vote these money-hungry politicians out of office.


Glen Burnie, Md.

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