- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 8, 2001

Army Corps saps taxes, ruins environment

Doug Bandow's Nov. 2 Commentary column "Saluting for pork" neglected to finger one of the most egregious spending teams of them all: the Army Corps of Engineers and the Congress. Through the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, Congress plans to pump millions of dollars into hundreds of Army Corps water projects, many of which are economically irresponsible and environmentally destructive. While the corps should know better, many of these projects are among the worst it has pursued in years.
This is pork-barrel politics at its worst Congress channels limited funds to the home districts of powerful politicians to finance water projects that fly in the face of the corps' responsibility to restore, not degrade, the environment.
If signed by the president, as expected, the appropriations measure will permit these controversial projects to move closer to robbing taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars, while harming the environment and failing to provide any substantial economic benefits to the country.
It's time for the corps to reform its free-spending, environmentally destructive ways. And it's time for Congress to prioritize among projects that actually contribute to the well-being of an economically shaken America. Now, more than ever, our nation cannot afford the price of wasteful and misguided pork barrel politics.

President and chief executive officer
National Wildlife Federation

American Postal Workers Union avoids scaring public

In the Nov. 2 front-page report, "Postal Service buys masks, but OSHA halts use," you claim that: "The American Postal Workers Union told its members in an Oct. 19 online newsletter not to wear any of the gloves and masks offered by the Postal Service since they may project a public image of fear."
That is not what was stated in union President-elect William Burrus' bulletin. Rather, he recommended that those workers "in the public eye" who have window contact with customers refrain from using the protective gear because of the image of fear it would project.
In the case of other workers who sort mail and are exposed to machinery or automated equipment, the union recommends that its members review the situation and consider using the mask and any protective gear that the Postal Service is offering at this time. Use of this apparatus is a worker's personal decision.

Public relations representative
American Postal Workers Union

Justice Thomas 'silent' but eloquent

Bruce Fein is correct to question the selection of "Silent Justice" for the title of the new biography of Justice Clarence Thomas ("Belittling justice," Political Books, Nov. 6). It is difficult to think of anything less significant about Supreme Court justices in general or Justice Thomas in particular than the number of questions they ask counsel during oral arguments. It certainly is no indicator of intelligence, wisdom or one's political inclinations.
When the Warren Court was sitting, Justice William O. Douglas scarcely ever asked a question. Justice William J. Brennan did so rarely, and Justice Hugo L. Black sparred with counsel only once in a while. I am not aware that their habits were much noted, although Justice Douglas was criticized for answering his mail on the bench.
The significant utterances of the court are the reasoning and style of the written opinions that a justice submits for public scrutiny. On that test the only one that matters Justice Thomas for years has been doing a fine, professional and occasionally eloquent job.


Failed terrorists should be treated no different than successful ones

The case of former Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) fugitive Sara Jane Olson shows the inconsistencies of our laws ("'70s SLA terrorist pleads guilty to 2 bomb plots," Nov. 1).
Clearly, the SLA and Olson were terrorists; they undoubtedly attempted to kill police officers. Under the law, however, killing a police officer is subject to the death penalty, while attempting to kill a police officer is not. In other words, if someone accomplishes what he intended, one punishment is administered, but if he fails, another punishment is administered. This makes no sense.
With today's terrorist activities, do we really want our laws to differentiate between successful terrorist attempts and unsuccessful attempts? If we make terrorism a crime subject to capital punishment, it should be so regardless of whether the terrorist succeeded or failed. In addition, those who aid and abet terrorist activities are as guilty as those who execute the crime and should be treated as such.
It may be time to reconsider our laws. The penalty should be the same whether you hit or miss. It is the attempt that matters, not the results.

Los Angeles

UN oversight office reaps savings on smaller budget than reported

In the Oct. 29 article, "Oversight pays off," you inaccurately report the budget of the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services. The annual budget is about $15 million, not $29 million as cited in the article. This is because the fiscal period of the U.N. program budget covers two years, translating into an allocation of about $15 million per year for internal oversight. This includes separate funds for oversight coverage of the United Nation's peacekeeping missions, as well as funds and programs, such as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Among our achievements during the 12-month reporting period, you correctly mention our audit recommendation to reduce the mission subsistence allowance (a cash allowance paid in local currency) given to U.N. personnel serving at peacekeeping missions around the world, resulting in potential savings of $45 million annually.
Another important achievement is our assessment of how each U.N. department and office has been implementing our most critical recommendations. We are hoping that this will not only spotlight the actual impact of oversight on the United Nations, but also help to hold managers accountable for their performance.

Undersecretary-general for Internal Oversight Services
United Nations
New York

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