- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Some Muslim students send troubling message

You've heard the expression "damning with faint praise." Well, in the comments of the Muslim students in your Oct. 11 article about their reaction to our war on terrorism, we have the converse: praising with faint damnation.
"I understand [Americas] anger, but ." "We're totally against what the terrorists have done but ." "There is no justification for the [Sept. 11] attacks, but ."
As is usually the case with sentences of this type, each "but" is followed by a statement that either negates the condemnation of the terrorists or greatly softens it.
The message I got from the article is that, in the minds of the students interviewed, the killing of innocent Americans by Muslim terrorists is not very nice. But the killing of any Muslim by an American would be really bad, and our response to the attacks should have been to thank the terrorists for so dramatically pointing out the errors in our foreign policy.

HENRY BORGER
Laurel

Drug czar nominee should be rejected

In response to the Oct. 12 op-ed, "Don't forfeit war on drugs," by Sens. Grassley and Kyl, opposition to John Walters' nomination for drug czar has nothing to do with support for drug legalization, and everything to do with the need for our country to take a balanced approach to drug policy.
As U.S. leaders, including the late Barry Goldwater, have called for a more moderate approach to drug policy, Mr. Walters has emerged as a hard-liner among hard-liners in the war on drugs.
Earlier this year, Mr. Walters wrote that it is an urban myth that "drug and other criminal sentences are too long and harsh, and [that] the criminal justice system is unjustly punishing young black men."
Yet, in the past 20 years, the number of people locked up for drug offenses has increased 11-fold, while the number locked up for violent offenses has doubled. Blacks make up about 13 percent of drug users, and 63 percent of all drug offenders admitted to prison.
Especially during these difficult times, our country needs leaders who can heal our national racial wounds, not throw salt on them. The Senate should reject Mr. Walters' nomination to be our nation's drug-policy leader.

VINCENT SCHIRALDI
President
Justice Policy Institute
Washington

Wartime information curbs stir great controversy

Deroy Murdock's Oct. 12 Commentary article, "Spreading secrets around," reprises the long-standing conundrum; freedom of the press vs. a need to protect our national secrets. During the Civil War, both North and South found newspapers to be founts of intelligence information. The South went so far as to set up a secret line that transported Northern papers to Richmond within 24 hours. Gen. William T. Sherman barred newsmen from his camps because of their irresponsibility in reporting unit strengths and battle plans.
In all of its wars, the United States has had to struggle with the issue of censorship. There are many reasons why the media chooses to publish or broadcast sensitive information, not the least of which involve opposition to the incumbent administration. One way to deal with this problem is to put together a board composed of government and media people to establish guidelines for the publication of sensitive data. Another way is to prosecute those who knowingly publicize national-security information.
Just as President Bush stated his policy of going after Osama bin Laden and those who provide him safe harbor, newspeople who ignore our national interests and the media outlets that provide them a platform should be held liable for their actions.

THOMAS J. RYAN
Bethany Beach, Del.

The 'Big Lie' about Egypt

It is undoubtedly true that the Big Lie is one of the most effective means to confuse an issue or obscure truth ("The Big Lie," Editorial, Oct. 14). For example, it is a big lie to accuse Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of simply equating the attacks on America with the Palestinian question.
Egypt, along with Israel, is a strong American ally in a region teeming with lethal anti-American hatred. Therefore, after the attacks on Sept. 11, Mr. Mubarak faced significant risk by quickly reaffirming Egypt's alliance with the United States. It is to his credit that he spoke so strongly reaffirming U.S.-Egyptian ties.
So, why did he introduce the Palestinian issue? Perhaps Mr. Mubarak was giving a nod to the less-moderate elements at home and in the region, telling them that in all the confusion, the question of Palestine would not be forgotten when the time came to address the overall issue of terrorism.
While the scale of death and suffering experienced on the 11th is unmatched (thankfully), the vast number of individual acts of terror not wars in the Middle East can be directly tied to the Palestinian question. So, when Mr. Mubarak spoke about the "roots of terrorism" being found in the Palestinian question, he was correct in a broader sense. He realizes we have a war to fight and win, but he also realizes that when our war is won, so long as the Palestinian question remains, the terror of the Arab-Israeli conflict will remain.
Mr. Mubarak and the Egyptian people are reliable and steady supporters of the United States. We should not abuse our friends by calling them liars.

KENT D. JOHNSON
Stafford, Va.

Current antitrust policy hurts consumers

The Washington Times' coverage of the U.S. District Court's decision in the Visa/MasterCard antitrust proceeding ("Ruling finds fault with Visa, MasterCard," Oct. 11) overlooked the ultimate losers in the case: taxpayers and consumers.
Like a bully recklessly punching his way across a playground, federal antitrust policy is mauling its way across a marketplace already battered by the attacks of Sept. 11 all for the benefit of politically influential competitors.
What other conclusion can be drawn, when even the judge trying the case praised the current credit market for lower costs to consumers and "rapid innovations in service."? More than 8,000 banks compete to issue Visa and MasterCard, as anyone who has been to their mailbox can attest.
American Express worked closely with federal prosecutors in bringing this case in order to avoid expensive private litigation and stick taxpayers with the tab instead. Although the firm has complained of being denied access to new customers, evidence suggests that poor business decisions such as high annual fees, lack of affinity programs, the failed Optima card and a closed network contributed to the loss of market share that American Express now, ironically, appears to be recovering on its own.
In the past three years alone, the government has extorted twice as much in antitrust fines from businesses as it did from 1890 when the Sherman Antitrust Act was created through 1996. This is a growth industry that America's ailing economy and taxpayers can do without.

PETER SEPP
Vice President for Communications
National Taxpayers Union
Alexandria

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