- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2002

Anti-cloning bill won't be a tough sell

Your front-page report on cloning claims that the cloning ban approved by a 100-vote margin in the House is too "tough" a bill for the Senate to approve, both because it conflicts with most senators' support for stem cell research and because it carries strong penalties of 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine ("Senate to debate cloning penalties," Jan. 7). A balanced and accurate account would have noted the following:

• Exactly the same penalties are found in the competing bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat. The difference between the bills is that the House-passed measure penalizes the irresponsible researcher for using cloning to create human embryos, while Mrs. Feinstein would chiefly penalize a woman for trying to place one of those embryos in her uterus. The House-passed bill is anti-cloning; the Feinstein bill is anti-live birth, and arguably anti-woman.

• The Feinstein bill faces its own serious obstacles. It cannot pass the House (which soundly rejected a very similar measure last summer), is not supported by the president, and is vulnerable to constitutional challenge. How would violations of such a ban be punished, if not by coercing abortions?

• Almost all senators who support embryonic stem cell research have declared that they oppose creating human embryos specifically to be destroyed in stem cell research (which is exactly what so-called "therapeutic cloning" is). Even the Specter-Harkin bill promoting federal funding of destructive embryo research excludes that practice. Contrary to your account, most senators would have to repudiate their own stated policy positions if they were to approve embryo cloning for stem cell research.

• It is irresponsible to say, as the article does, that "scientists," in general, favor cloning as "the most likely" solution to the immune rejection problem in stem cell transplants. If the reporter had read the Aug. 10 issue of Science, the April 5 issue of Nature, or James Thomson's own overview in the May issue of the journal Stem Cells, he would find that even leading scientists in embryonic stem cell research do not hold that view. Adult stem cells continue to outstrip their embryonic cousins in clinical benefits, and researchers using both kinds of cells continue to develop solutions to the rejection problem that do not rely on human cloning.


Deputy director

Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops


Secret Service agent justifiably angry with airline

Your Jan. 8 editorial, "Bravo to American Airlines," which supports American Airlines' treatment of Secret Service agent Walied Shater, appears to rely solely on the airlines' account of the incident. As a loyal reader of your fine paper, I find this embarrassingly myopic. There are always two sides to a story.

More balanced accounts of the incident including those published in your paper reveal that American Airlines and Baltimore-Washington International Airport personnel acted incompetently, bumbling paperwork and failing to communicate with the pilot. If I had been in Mr. Shater's shoes, I would have been outraged at the handling of the matter, which should have been routine. Keep in mind that he was on the president's detail.

American Airlines staffers committed a series of stupid mistakes in processing Mr. Shater's papers, thereby delaying and provoking him (and other passengers). Furthermore, their actions compromised his ability to do his job for the FBI and the president. For American Airlines to use the agent's disposition as an excuse for their reaction to him is analogous to rudely and disrespectfully provoking a police officer and expressing surprise and disdain for being arrested.

I have often boarded planes and gotten off temporarily, time permitting, to buy food or a newspaper in the concourse or to use a decent restroom. I, too, have left my carry-on luggage on the plane. What is so unusual about this? Absolutely nothing unless you are an Arab American, I guess.

You made a quantum leap in judgment without access to all the facts. There is a word to describe that way of thinking: "prejudice."


Falls Church

Thre true cost of illegal immigration

I am surprised that The Washington Times would print such flagrant disinformation as the letter from the National Health Law Association's Doreena Wong, who says that "undocumented immigrants contribute more in taxes than the costs in services they incur and also are less likely than citizens to seek public benefits" ("Illegal immigrants didn't deserve unhealthy billing," Jan. 7).

According to Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican: "Each immigrant who arrives without a high school education will get on the average $89,000 more in government benefits than they pay in taxes over their lifetimes. These annual newcomers will cost taxpayers $27 billion."

The "family unification" emphasis of immigration policy has brought an unprecedented number of low-skilled people to America 300,000 annually who have less than a high school education, and those are the legal ones. These are not the people needed for a modern, knowledge-intensive economy. We are importing poverty.

Illegal aliens are here to work cheap that is why the business lobby insists that borders remain open despite the obvious danger. Furthermore, the system is the worst form of corporate welfare: Taxpayers must pay the tab for immigrant social services in communities where many of these same Americans lost their jobs to the cheaper labor of unwelcome foreigners.


Berkeley, Calif

National sovereignty never trumps human rights

Bruce Fein seems to believe that "all human rights" are "matters of degree" ("Foreign policy dilettantes, Jan. 8). That is true if one places national sovereignty over the individual sovereignty that God assigned to every human being. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights may contain "semi-utopian commandments," but it is nonetheless an international agreement that individual human rights are unalienable and that no government, army, judge or jury should have power to take them away.

In addition to protecting the lives of its citizens, the primary function of any government should be protecting each of these inalienable rights. The U.S. government is good, great and strong to the degree that its actions are consistent with this American and universal ideal.

The degree to which our government places national sovereignty above the sovereignty of individuals is the degree to which our government risks the legitimacy of its existence and the security and the freedoms of its citizens. It's either liberty and justice for all the world's people or varying degrees of conflict, including military tribunals and war.

In short, it's either the rule of law or the law of force. There should be no "degrees" in the matter of inalienable human rights.


Issues Advocacy Director

World Federalist Association


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