- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 16, 2002

International court essential to waging a just war

Before David A. Keene writes more about the soon-to-be-established International Criminal Court (ICC), he should read more of the details about this pro-human-rights tribunal ("Yesterday and today," Feb. 14). Its purpose is to deter individuals who would commit war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and to justly try those who are accused of such atrocities. Any U.S. citizen suspected, rightly or wrongly, of past atrocities will have nothing to fear from the ICC, because any crimes occurring before the official establishment of the permanent tribunal will not come under its jurisdiction.

For this reason, former President Clinton has no need to fear the ICC. All Americans, however, have reason to fear a world with no ICC, in which international justice and the protection of human rights are left to the whims and the power of individual nations and/or their military leaders.

The second reason for U.S. citizens not to fear the ICC is the clear authority established within its statute for existing U.S. civil or military courts to deal with any U.S. citizen who may be accused of heinous international crimes.

Mr. Keene might want to consider why the ICC and other international tribunals are popular and "politically correct." It's not because they will provide "great theater." It's because they are based on the emerging ideal that individual human rights have priority over the rights of nations (and their political or military leadership), especially nations that foster terrorism.

In light of the new war against terrorism, Mr. Keene also should look more closely at the specifics of the American Service Members Protection Act. This legislation actually would give U.S. sanction to international terrorists and mass killers by making it illegal for local, state or federal government officials to aid in the investigation or capture of a suspect indicted by the ICC. The bill even endorses the U.S. invasion of the Netherlands and could unravel our international anti-terrorism coalition by threatening our NATO allies, most of which are signatories of the ICC and many of which have ratified it.

If the U.S. Senate is serious about a comprehensive war against terrorism, it should quickly ratify the ICC and make the United States one of the 60 nations needed to create it. This would put the United States in a position to influence the tribunal and have American judges appointed to its bench.

In the war against terrorism, President Bush and others regularly tout the value of the "rule of law" in waging a morally just war. One element that is essential to the rule of law is the ideal that laws should be applied equally to all people. If U.S. policy-makers continue to push for a unilateral exemption to international law, our war against terrorism will be undermined further. This is not about "great theater." It's about our basic moral principles and our survival as a nation and a people.



Criticizing cartoonist is free speech, too

I read with great interest your Feb. 15 story "Cartoon draws line between free press and poor judgment," about the cartoonist who used images of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center to attack Republicans and about the ensuing backlash. It's fascinating how authors and artists who use political satire to attack others, when criticized, are so quick to cry that their right to "free speech" is being threatened. After all, aren't those who respond to such attacks including elected or appointed officials exercising their right to free speech, as well?

Too many in the press seem to think the right to free speech is reserved just for them. If they make an effort to make a public statement, they should expect that others might respond. The Constitution guarantees all of us the same rights, not just a select few.


Crofton, Md.

Inflated ANWR expectations

It's really surprising when a seasoned journalist such as Morton Kondracke mangles the facts when writing about something as controversial as drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ("Energy policy urgency," Commentary Feb. 14).

Mr. Kondracke wildly overstates the amount of oil that could be extracted from the refuge's coastal plain because he confuses estimates of what is in the ground with estimates of what oil companies could recover economically after incurring exploration and production costs. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that there are 3.2 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil in the refuge less than what we consume in six months. That's not "environmentalist propaganda," Mr. Kondracke, those are the government's own figures.

We consume 25 percent of the world's produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. According to USGS, the amount of economically recoverable oil in ANWR would increase world reserves by less than 0.3 percent. That's not enough to make a significant dent in our imports from Saudi Arabia or anywhere else.

Mr. Kondracke says refuge oil drilling "could begin in three to five years." At a Senate hearing in October, however, an Exxon-Mobil executive testified that if Congress and Alaska expedited the permitting process, it still would take six to eight years for oil to reach the market, although the normal process takes 10 years.

Finally, Mr. Kondracke's claim that development would take up only 2,000 acres is an oil-industry fiction. According to USGS, refuge oil is not concentrated in one reservoir within a 2,000-acre area but is in more than 30 small deposits spread across its 1.5-million-acre coastal plain. A network of roads, pipelines and other industrial facilities would permanently scar this vast area, and the House energy bill's 2,000-acre restriction is a sham. It doesn't require that the 2,000 acres be contiguous; it only includes the area where infrastructure touches the ground, which excludes above-ground pipelines. It doesn't include gravel roads or land excavated to bury pipelines.

The way to ensure our energy security is to dramatically reduce our appetite for oil. We have the technology to raise the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks to an average of 40 miles per gallon by 2012 and 55 mpg by 2020. By 2012, we would save nearly 2 million barrels a day more oil than we imported from Saudi Arabia last year. By 2020, we would save nearly 5 million barrels a day nearly twice what we import from the Persian Gulf. (For more information, go to www.nrdc.org.) What we need now is the political will to get there.


Washington communications director

Natural Resources Defense Council


Speeding D.C. Council member irks organization

Your Feb. 8 story "Evans hints at radar camera repeal" reported that D.C. Council member Jack Evans may attempt to repeal the photo-radar program in the District. "I hate the program. I have been caught up in it myself," he is quoted as saying.

For a council member to admit that he was caught speeding and then express no regret for his dangerous behavior is disconcerting, to say the least. Members of the city council are supposed to be law-abiding citizens. They are supposed to set an example for the rest of the community.

I wonder if Mr. Evans ever listens to the traffic reports in the morning. This city is literally crippled by crashes every single day. Speeders are a major factor in the extraordinary crash rate in our nation's capital. Crashes not only threaten the safety of our residents, but also contribute greatly to traffic congestion in the region, which is among the nation's worst.

Our organization believes the photo-radar and red-light camera programs in the District are flawed. The vendor for these programs should be paid a flat fee, not compensated on a per-ticket basis. In addition, the city should be using all of the revenue every last penny generated from the tickets to educate the community about the dangers of speeding and red-light running. Instead, it is using the revenue to pay for other, unrelated programs and services. Studies have shown that long-term changes in attitudes about laws do not come from enforcement, but from education. However, studies also have shown that enforcement is critical to compliance, and photo enforcement is the only realistic means to enforce speed limits and red lights when so many people are ignoring them.

The program needs to be fixed, but apparently Mr. Evans would rather dismantle it. Perhaps someone who shows so little interest in changing his own behavior is ill-suited to the task at hand.


Executive director

The Partnership for Safe Driving


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