- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Drug czar self-congratulations unmerited

Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey pats himself on the back for waging a successful war on drugs in the past five years ("Departing drug czar cites progress, says more to be done," Jan. 5). Like most bureaucrats, he measures his "effectiveness" by the amount of money he spends. That is why Gen. McCaffrey touts the fact that federal spending on drug programs has increased 55 percent in recent years.

Gen. McCaffrey has been urging President-elect George W. Bush to "stay the course" with the federal drug war, but Mr. Bush should pause to consider where we are going.

Federal prosecutors are threatening doctors in California for simply discussing the pros and cons of using marijuana for medicinal purposes. The drug czar's office is reviewing the scripts of our TV shows for politically incorrect comments. Drug enforcement agents are using forfeiture laws to seize the homes and cars of people who have not been convicted of any crime. Our military personnel are getting killed in the jungles of Colombia in a futile attempt to stop coca production.

Gen. McCaffrey also does not mention his setbacks at the ballot box, where voters have opted repeatedly for drug treatment instead of criminalization and militarization.

Even President Clinton has criticized the general's position that marijuana users should be punished criminally. Against that backdrop, it is understandable why Gen. McCaffrey would want to declare "victory" and leave town.

TIMOTHY LYNCH

Director

Project on Criminal Justice

https://www.cato.org/people/lynch.html

Cato Institute

Washington

Bush Labor nominee goes unrewarded for acts of charity

Should there be doubt in anyone's mind regarding the honesty, integrity and sincerity of Democratic politicians, just consider Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and Tom Daschle. They found nothing wrong with President Clinton lying under oath and voted against removing him from office. They have, however, "serious concerns" about former Labor Secretary nominee Linda Chavez's acts of charity toward former illegal immigrant Marta Mercado. I find it comforting to know that these two leading Democrats can, when required, rise above partisan politics to focus upon those real issues that are so crucial to the security of our country.

There seems to be no bottom to the depths to which Democratic politicians will stoop for political gain.

BOB SEGAL

Burke, Va.

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I, too, have opened my home to friends in need. They have helped me with chores, briefly taken care of my children and provided religious grounding and guidance.

That is what good folks do. When common decent behavior is not recognized by labor leaders and other Democratic partisans, it becomes clear who wears the black hats in this shootout.

DONALD L. MEAKER

Sealy, Texas

Kashmiri 'hope' hinges on diplomacy

If a lasting peace in Kashmir is going to be established, then those who are party to it must learn not to dwell on the perceived injustices of the past, but rather focus on the promise of a better future ("Glimmer of hope seen for Kashmir," Commentary, Jan. 7).

If, as Ghulam Nabi Fai asserts, India raced to the U.N. Security Council to champion a Kashmiri self-determination plebiscite "which India has now defied for more than 50 years because she knows Kashmiris will never vote in her favor," why was it done in the first place?

Sadly forgotten is the U.N. requirement that Pakistan withdraw its army from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir before India replies in kind and elections are held. The result has been a state "occupied" by two seemingly foreign armies, both claiming ownership over a land and its people.

I find it most encouraging that indigenous Kashmiris are finally being given their own voice in determining their future, as Mr. Nabi Fai notes. But this willingness is based on the Pakistani assumption that India will extend a limited autonomy agreement to Kashmiris that they will then reject in favor of full independence or fusion with Pakistan.

Before bowing to the desires of an Islamist leadership in Pakistan, helping them to consolidate a pan-Islamic state across Central and South Asia, Kashmiris should instead seek to remove themselves from Pakistan's strategic chessboard. The specter of nuclear war has focused world attention on Kashmir's indigenous claims.

Now that an agreement may be at hand, Kashmiris should use their voice to satisfy their demands in a responsible way, by seeking a path that reduces the interstate rivalry among its neighbors.

TIMOTHY L. TOWELL

Washington

Timothy L. Towell is former deputy director of the Peace Corps and U.S. ambassador to Paraguay under Presidents Reagan and Bush.

Gun-free zones advertise vulnerability

Since the Dec. 26 shooting in Wakefield, Mass., The Washington Times has published commentaries, an editorial and several letters from readers reaffirming the obvious danger of gun-free zones.

Gun-control advocates cite a lack of evidence to directly connect laws that restrict the lawful carrying of firearms and incidents of mass shootings. This is partly due to the poor survival rate of these gunmen. Many kill themselves after the shooting or commit suicide by attacking law enforcement.

Among those who survived to be captured and tried was Mir Aimal Kasi, the gunman who killed two and injured several others near the entrance to CIA headquarters in January 1993. News coverage of his trial in November 1997 revealed that Kasi targeted the CIA with the almost certain knowledge that he would not encounter anyone entering who would be armed. Federal law prohibits the carrying of weapons on U.S. government property, even by those with state carry permits. Kasi was torn between attacking the Israeli Embassy or the CIA and picked the latter because he couldn't be as certain that embassy employees would be unarmed.

Both common sense and experience tell us that laws creating gun-free zones only serve to advertise the vulnerability of anyone who might happen to be there.

Laws and gun-control advocates aside, we have also learned that individuals often advertise their own vulnerability. During the 1990s, it became clear that street-thugs profile their victims.

In light of this, I was surprised to find in your paper recently the request by Arlington Delegate L. Karen Darner to issue a Virginia license plate "supporting the positions of the Million Mom March" on Washington (That's Politics, Jan. 3). People have been stripping gun-control bumper stickers off their cars as news got around that carjackers and smash-and-grab criminals looked for signs of anti-gun sentiment to select targets.

Conversely, criminals avoid cars with National Rifle Association and pro-gun decals and bumper stickers.

Any license plate that identifies the driver of a car as a supporter of the Million Mom March would be the possibly fatal equivalent of walking around with a "kick me" sign on one's back. I hope the Virginia General Assembly will take safety into account as it considers this request.

The article mentions the peculiar situation of this request being submitted to the Militia and Police Committee rather than to the House Transportation Committee. It suggests that the proposal won't get a fair hearing from pro-gun members of that committee. This may be a fortunate decision, however. Delegates with a knowledge of firearms and gun control will likely recognize the foolishness of advertising one's defenselessness.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Generally, I would agree with that statement.

Even so, for the sake of those Virginia moms who might attach one of these proposed plates to their car, I think they should be given fair warning.

GEORGE SIGLER

Harpers Ferry, W.Va.


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