- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

A welcomed tribute to George Mason

I enjoyed reading the April 10 story of the dedication of the George Mason Memorial, with your very appropriate headline, "Founding Father gets his due."
Winners of political battles write history, and George Mason, who refused to sign the Constitution, was on the "losing" side, so much so that it strained the great friendship between Mason and George Washington. Mason's idea of a bill of rights was an idea whose time had come, and under pressure from some states that conditioned ratification on such a promise, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution after ratification as the first 10 amendments.
Contrary to the statement in the article, Jefferson attributed the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, to Mason. (Mason had written the Virginia Declaration of Rights.) Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist put it well in stating that Mason's contributions to the new republic "were less visible, but nonetheless of great importance."
In a book I edited on George Mason, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor traced how Mason's views influenced Supreme Court decisions throughout our history and helped influence the application of our Constitution to our modern life.
George Mason sits in a place of honor on the Mall. If efforts are successful by June 1 in securing the commitment of 350 persons in Virginia for a special license plate designating Fairfax County as "Home of the Bill of Rights," a further tribute to George Mason will be completed.


DONALD J. SENESE
Alexandria
Mr. Senese, a historian, is the editor of "George Mason and the Legacy of Constitutional Liberty: An Examination of the Influence of George Mason on the American Bill of Rights."

Revisionist article ignores French brutality in Algeria

On April 7, The Washington Times published an article by Arnaud de Borchgrave, an editor at large of your newspaper and of United Press International, titled "Terror's Common Denominator." It equated the present wave of terrorism in Palestine and elsewhere in the world with the Algerian war of liberation from France and the massacre of Frenchmen who occupied the territory of Algeria.
That article is an outrage to humanity and the history of this humanity. It ignores and denies the historical truth of that war and represents an affront to anyone, regardless of citizenship, who has knowledge of it. Mr. de Borchgrave knows or should know well the facts of that war, which even today are reflected in memoirs of French generals and soldiers as being replete with infamous episodes of French cruelty, torture and massacres of Algerians.
Such an article has no place, or should not have any place, in a responsible newspaper of any country. The fact that your editors allowed its publication is a major infraction of truth and social responsibility.
Terrorism exists today in Algeria, where hundreds of thousands of citizens have been mowed down by machetes and by the hands of "Afghan Arabs" trained in the camps of Afghanistan. These terrorists have nothing to do with the war of liberation that sent French settlers packing home. The excess of terror attributed to Algerians during that war was nothing compared to the brutality and horror perpetrated by French forces in Algeria, leaving behind a traumatized land still suffering from the grave excesses committed by French troops and French colons.
I protest. I protest high and loud against this revisionist article, which is a racist and falsified account of the role of France in North Africa and of the bloody trail French troops and torture chambers left in North Africa.
I know of what I speak. My mother and my uncle, who fought in Tunisia against the forces of Erwin Rommel in World War II and died for it were Algerians from Kabylia.
I was born and raised in Morocco. I lived under and know the racism, the brutality, and the unspeakable acts of repression committed by "noble" Frenchmen.

HELENE HAGAN
Director, Tazzla Institute for Cultural Diversity
Los Angeles

The IRS isn't judge and jury

In an April 5 Commentary column, "Wrong checks are in the IRS mail," Richard Rahn wrongly suggested that people can unfairly be sent to prison by vindictive Internal Revenue Service agents. The truth is that no one can be imprisoned at the whim of an IRS agent.
Every criminal tax prosecution is reviewed by the Justice Department. Every indictment is approved by a United States attorney and at least 12 federal grand jurors.
If a defendant enters a plea of not guilty, every conviction requires a unanimous verdict by a trial jury of 12 citizens and is subject to review by a federal district judge and three federal appellate judges.
The federal tax enforcement system is replete with safeguards to ensure that criminal prosecution is reserved for deserving criminals who intended to defraud honest taxpayers.

EILEEN J. O'CONNOR
Assistant Attorney General
Tax Division
Justice Department


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