- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 15, 2002

Combating ID fraud

Thursday's article on the lack of identification required to obtain a driver's license, causing potential fraud, shows that our homeland defense is only as strong as our weakest link ("ID check falters at Virginia DMV," Metropolitan). Consider that seven of the September 11 terrorists had Virginia ID cards but were not state residents. Could we have averted disaster had fake identification not been so easy to get? We don't want to ask such a question again.
Identity verification, although currently a large hole in our nation's security net, is easy and inexpensive to fix. This presents an opportunity for states and the federal government to work together to improve national security.
The standards used from state to state to obtain licenses vary wildly, putting everyone at risk. There are more than 240 different valid types of driver's licenses from the 50 states. California alone has 14 types of licenses. No security screener can know the safety and ID features of each.
What should we do? Each state should be able, at a minimum, to authenticate the other 49 state licenses, as well as passports. If this basic level of interstate authentication is not realized, then the whole exercise becomes moot. Nothing would prevent someone from using a false driver's license from one state to get a completely legitimate and valid license in another state and from there obtain other documents, bank accounts and passports.
The solution has been around for years, and it is cheap. It's called document authentication technology, and it has cut down ID fraud in many countries drastically. For the cost of outfitting just one airport with the latest bomb detection technology, we could fortify and authenticate every driver's license and passport issued in the whole country.
The initiative will pay for itself. The reduction of fraud by even a small percentage through better authentication would save vast amounts of money and prevent crimes each year. More important, document authentication can help save lives.
Department of motor vehicles databases can easily be linked to each other and FBI watch lists to stop terrorists before they start. Preventing ID fraud will equal less crime and terrorism and more lives saved.

ID fraud coordinator
State of Florida

Seeing through 'Islamic folk perceptions'

Arnaud de Borchgrave appears hysterical and cries wolf by categorizing the situation in Pakistan as "a clear and present danger" to the United States ("Pakistan: In flagrante delicto," Commentary, Friday). The funeral of Mir Aimal Kasi has to be understood in the context of Islamic folk perceptions.
Muslims view Ramadan (the month of fasting commemorating the time when the Koran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad) as the holiest of months, in which the spirit of forgiving and self-control must be demonstrated manifestly in words and in deeds. Generally, people do not hunt, nor do they engage in any activity that could be perceived as being insulting or painful to anyone. The execution of criminals is delayed until the month is over. The public perception is that anyone killed during the month of Ramadan is a martyr.
When Muslims offer prayers for the deceased, irrespective of the person's actions and behavior when he was alive, it is for the redemption and salvation of the person's soul. Prayers do not condone his actions.
Participation in the funeral and prayers is socially incumbent on fellow Muslims because it is believed that one must pray for someone who has died so that others will pray for you when you die. Kasi's funeral also should be understood in the context of the public perception in Pakistan that his arrest and extradition were conducted in a quasi-legal manner. Therefore, he was seen as an underdog, especially because it is rumored that both Kasi and his father were affiliated with the CIA and the latter died under mysterious circumstances.
Finally, it is a matter of public record that out of 3,000 extremists arrested in Pakistan since January 2002, only about 1,400 have been released on bonds of good behavior requiring them to report periodically to the nearest police station.
Contrary to the panicked views by some from inside the Beltway, Pakistan, though it has its share of difficulties and is undergoing growth pains, is not on the verge of a meltdown, nor is it under siege from extremist elements.


Debunking Republicans' 'racist past'

It was with dismay that I read Armstrong Williams' column "Clumsily fumbling the race issue" (Commentary, Thursday). As a fan of Mr. Williams, I was shocked that he could repeat, with such certainty, the baseless claim that Republicans historically have stood in opposition to civil rights legislation. This is a myth fostered by the left. I am disappointed with The Washington Times for supporting this myth by printing it as truth in Mr. Williams' piece.
The Republicans did not control the House or the Senate in 1964, but 17 percent more Republicans than Democrats in the House and 13 percent more in the Senate voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Former Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd's nasty history is referred to as "an indiscretion of one," yet he led a filibuster against this legislation. Sen. Al Gore, father of the former vice president, voted against the act, as did Sen. J. William Fulbright, former President Bill Clinton's mentor, and, of course, Sen. Strom Thurmond, who was a Democrat at that time. To Mr. Thurmond's credit, he long ago repudiated his racist notions, but I am not aware that Mr. Byrd or the late Mr. Fulbright ever did. Mr. Gore later said he "regretted" his vote.
Under President Reagan's administration, black-owned businesses increased at three times the overall business growth rate, and the number of blacks making more than $50,000 a year doubled. The first woman on the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, was appointed by a Republican, as was the most recent black justice to join the court, Justice Clarence Thomas. The current President Bush has minorities in the highest levels of his administration, far more than the previous president.
Republicans will never attract to their party the various minority voting blocs by pleading that Republicans changed, so please be our friend now. It is the Democrats who have a racist history for which to atone, and their current rhetoric still sounds extremely patronizing.

Woodbridge, Va.

Why state-run socialism fails

In Thomas Sowell's review of Joshua Muravchik's book "Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism" ("Disastrous utopia," Commentary, Wednesday), Mr. Sowell observes: "In between, there are stories of small communal societies . In all these very different societies around the world, the story of socialism has been a story of high hopes and bitter disappointments."
Did Mr. Muravchik never consider the examples of convents and monasteries (both Christian and Buddhist)? These communities have practiced socialism for centuries. Members give up all their personal property, share their possessions and redistribute wealth to the neediest. Spend a weekend with the Franciscans or Missionaries of Charity, and you will find that these orders have indeed established a certain "heaven on earth." Of course, they thrive because the entire community trusts in a transcendent moral authority. Take away God, and the whole system crumbles.
The necessary foundation of that success proves precisely why governments should not get involved in socialist experiments. Governments do not have the right to impose religious beliefs upon people, and even if everyone did believe in a higher power, few would follow God with the faith of St. Francis of Assisi or Mother Teresa.


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