- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Probe of Clinton pardon would be too little too late

A congressional probe of President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich would be a waste of time("Lott wants Congress to probe Rich pardon," Jan. 29). The Constitution clearly gives the president the right to give pardons: "… he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment (Article 2, Section 2, Clause 1)." The Constitution contains no other reference to pardons.

If Congress wanted to prevent such pardons from being issued, they should have removed Mr. Clinton after he was impeached. Specifically, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's branch of Congress is to blame for not voting to remove him.

The Founding Fathers gave the president sole control over pardons. It probably never occurred to them that the American people would elect a man such as Mr. Clinton. They likely assumed that if a president exhibited such a penchant for abusing his office, Congress would impeach him and have him removed.

If Mr. Lott wants to find out why Mr. Clinton pardoned Mr. Rich, I suggest he probe the Senate.

DAVID A. LESSNAU

Bristow, Va.

Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle appears to lament President Clinton's pardon of fugitive Marc Rich ("Inside Politics," Jan. 26). Apparently, Mr. Daschle's solution to this embarrassment is for Congress to review the president's unilateral power to dispense pardons.

Two years ago, Congress took action under the Constitution that should have precluded this unseemly conduct: the first impeachment of an elected president in American history. Five brave Democrats in the House voted with integrity with most Republicans for Mr. Clinton's impeachment. Sadly, Senate Democrats chose to ignore the overwhelming evidence against Mr. Clinton and voted along party lines against removing the president from office.

Now it would appear that the same party that did not do its duty under Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution with regard to impeachment wants to tinker with future presidents' constitutional powers under Article 2, Section 2. That will not happen, but Mr. Daschle and his fellow Democrats will ultimately have to answer to history and to their God for their failure to uphold the Constitution and to do their duty at the proper time.

RAYMOND T. BEURKET

Alexandria

U.S.-Hong Kong trade threatened by China tech theft

China's use of Hong Kong-based companies to obtain American weapon technology undermines its pledge to maintain the former British colony's autonomy ("Beijing using front companies to grab U.S. arms technology," Jan. 26).

Since 1997, the United States has accepted Beijing's "one country, two systems" on its face value by treating Hong Kong as a separate economic entity, distinct from the mainland. Assuming that Hong Kong can maintain the integrity of its customs and economic laws, this policy has allowed unfettered trade between the United States and Hong Kong.

If Hong Kong should become China's economic tool, concerns will inevitably grow to scrutinize U.S.-Hong Kong trade. It will be Hong Kong's tragedy, and Beijing's public relations disaster.

VINCENT WEI-CHENG WANG

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of Richmond

Richmond, Va.

Defense of funding for overseas 'family planning' reveals flaws

Rosemary Dempsey of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy stated in your Jan. 26 Letters column that "not a single U.S. dollar has been spent to fund or promote abortions since 1973." She then asserts that President Bush has turned a blind eye to the 80,000 women who die each year from unsafe abortions by disqualifying overseas family-planning groups from receiving U.S. funds. If she is correct that these funds haven't promoted abortion, how could abortions be affected by a reduction in them?

Gary Merritt's letter in the same day's column claims that The Washington Times' editors yearn for a time when "only the wealthy had access to safe pregnancy termination, and the poor were left to suffer for their sins." Mr. Merritt, if I don't suffer the consequences of my sins, who should?

KEVIN M. BYRNE

Woodbridge

Bush takes high road on White House vandalism

I strongly sympathize with the desire of columnist Diana West to uncover all the sordid details of the vandalism perpetrated by departing Clinton White House staff ("Bring out the tar and feathers," Op-Ed, Jan. 26). However, I believe President Bush is entirely correct to downplay this matter and simply move on to more important issues.

Like spoiled, narcissistic adolescents, Mr. Clinton and his departing associates seem to love nothing more than a good juicy scandal; it keeps them in the limelight indefinitely. Unlike President Nixon, who knew when to bow out gracefully, Mr. Clinton continues to seek our attention, be it positive or negative. We should not allow ourselves to be manipulated into flattering him in this way.

Though Mr. Clinton belongs in jail with his fellow perjurers, life goes on. We must all support our new president in his noble attempts to rise above partisanship and back-stabbing to create a new culture of civility in America. That's the decent thing to do. And decency, to paraphrase our compassionate chief executive, is the only alternative our nation now has to total chaos.

CARL BIRMAN

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Picks for college basketball All-American honors are all wrong

After seeing your listing of current front-runners in the race for National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American honors (College Basketball Report, Jan. 26), one may reasonably ask on what planet your reporter lives. First, putting Casey Jacobsen ahead of Joe Forte is mind-boggling to say the least. Excluding Michael Jordan, Mr. Forte is possibly the best guard in Carolina's history. When one considers the superior competition that Mr. Forte faces day-to-day in the ACC compared to who Stanford plays in the PAC 10, it is easy to see why Mr. Forte's field goal percentages are slightly less than Jacobsen's. Yet, despite this, Mr. Forte averages almost 3 points more per game.

Second, putting Troy Murphy ahead of Shane Battier is also puzzling. While Mr. Murphy has excellent numbers, there is no comparison between the competition that Duke faces and that of Notre Dame. Every day Mr. Battier walks on the floor he is a marked man.

Finally, I remember that a few weeks before the Heisman balloting, The Washington Times had Josh Heupel ahead of Chris Weinke, despite the latter's superior numbers. Notwithstanding Oklahoma's dominance of Florida State in the championship game, which was primarily a defensive effort by Oklahoma, the Heisman balloting clearly went the right way. Then, as now, The Times was wrong.

ROB BRANTLEY

Alexandria

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