- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Shot down but not forgotten

Thank you for running the article regarding my father, Robert Snoddy, and his co-pilot, Norman Schwartz ("China allows search for U.S. pilots' bodies," Nation, July 9).My family has waited many years to finally locate their resting place. Although my father perished in 1952 just days before my birth, I have been fortunate enough to come to know him from my mother, my aunt and the Civilian Air Transport crew who flew with him. They have answered the many questions I have had over the years. Unfortunately, my mother, Charlotte Dillard Snoddy, died without knowing his true mission or fate. He was an expert pilot, dedicated to his country, and was willing to give his life for his country. I am proud to be from his fiber.

I am saying my prayers that the search team will find them. I also am very grateful to the Chinese government for allowing U.S. searchers to locate their remains. It has been a long time coming.


San Jose, Calif.

Up for another charade, Sen. Lieberman?

As I read about Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman casting doubt on the integrity of President Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney ("Lieberman pins fate of economy on White House," Page 1, Monday), I asked myself which Joseph Lieberman is speaking. Is it the Mr. Lieberman who chided Hollywood and the record industry for the content of their products? Or is it the Mr. Lieberman who looked the other way when bigwigs in the entertainment industry gave millions in campaign contributions to his and Al Gore's 2000 campaign? Indeed, is this the same Mr. Lieberman who just weeks ago asserted that an investigation into Enron was critical and now hardly makes any mention of Enron?

Which Mr. Lieberman are we to believe? It seems that he, not Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney, should have a crisis of credibility with the American electorate.


Huntsville, Ala.

Might as well have let Johnny walk

The Washington Times wrongly endorsed the deal between prosecutors and attorneys for John Walker Lindh, whosuccessfully plea-bargained a certain life sentence down to 17 years in federal prison ("The Lindh plea," Editorial, yesterday). The editorial also suggested that "we the people" don't know all the facts that led prosecutors to the plea agreement, so we should trust the government's decision. May I remind The Times that the government supposedly is accountable to us, and we have a right to know why the Justice Department lost its nerve in prosecuting this traitor. If national security requires a veil of secrecy, so be it. If that's thecase, however, let themilitary prosecute this "armed combatant," not the Justice Department.

The whole concept of plea bargaining is ridiculous in this case.Did John Walker Lindh take up arms against the United States? Yes, he did. Is that treason? Yes, it is. What is the penalty for treason?Well, it's not 17 years in federal prison. Thenotion that there was any doubt on the part of federal prosecutors that a jury would find Mr. Walker guilty of treason is absurd. Many Americans are enraged over thisunjust plea bargain, as polls taken by major media outlets clearly show.

Once again, America's justice system has failed to mete out the appropriate punishment for the crime committed. Thefamiliesof victims who died in the September 11 massacre, CIA officer Johnny Michael Spann's family and those of military personnel who have lost loved ones in the war against terror suffered yet another slap in the face thistime byfederal prosecutors, whobrokered a deal with a traitor rather than prosecutehim for the crimes he committed.


North Olmsted, Ohio

Love thy neighbor, but keep your eye on 'em

I beg to differ with the analogy between President Bush's proposed Terrorism Information and Prevention System (Operation TIPS) and George Orwell's book "1984" ("Planned volunteer-informant corps elicits '1984' fears," Nation, yesterday).

In Orwell's "1984," "citizen informants" were used to ferret out those who had thoughts, beliefs and opinions that were contrary to the government's, as was the case in such totalitarian societies as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

In contrast, Operation TIPS is an appeal to civilians to be on the lookout for evidence of potential terrorist activity, not politically incorrect ideas. As it would be directed only at planned criminal conduct, there would be no database keeping track of people's thoughts, opinions or beliefs. The Bush plan has no more in common with "1984"-style totalitarianism than do Neighborhood Watch committees.

Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union's drubbing of the Bush plan as an Orwellian ploy will be placed in my "mischaracterization of information for partisan propaganda purposes" file.


Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Congratulations on reporting about President Bush's misguided new policy. Those of us who love freedom and the Constitution do indeed object quite strenuously to the plan to recruit several million Americans to spy on friends, co-workers, family members, business associates and neighbors for suspected terrorist activity. The only saving grace of this plan is that it should prove to be unworkable.

For example, who is going to pay for the thousands of new bureaucrats who will be required to sift through the avalanche of false reports and misinformation that surely will result? Will this army of new government employees be any more competent than the employees who are letting guns and knives slip through the checkpoints at airports? That's to say nothing of the thousands of court-clogging lawsuits that can be expected to be filed by ordinary Americans seeking to protect or regain some portion of their lost privacy. In short, this plan simply is wrong on moral grounds; and even if it were not, it still would be sheer lunacy for a host of practical reasons.


Lakeland, Fla.

PRgovernor trawls for political gain back home

It is the height of hypocrisy for Puerto Rico's Gov. Sila M. Calderon to initiate an effort to register Puerto Rican voters in the United States while she supports a political status that denies the American citizens of Puerto Rico full voting rights ("'Let nothing stop us,'" Op-Ed, yesterday). If she were acting on principle instead of political ambition, she would condemn Puerto Rico's colonial-style commonwealth status, which relegates Puerto Ricans who reside on the island to second-class U.S. citizenship.

Puerto Ricans who reside on the island have proudly fought for the United States in numerous wars in defense of the freedoms we enjoy. Yet they are denied the right to vote for the commander in chief who orders them into battle. They also lack a voting representative in Congress and thus are deprived of the power to influence important policy decisions that profoundly affect their lives.

Mrs. Calderon's voter-registration campaign is nothing but a political ploy designed to pay back political favors she has received from mainland politicians who have large Puerto Rican constituencies whose electoral support they wish to curry. It is no wonder that New York's Gov. George Pataki, who is running for re-election in the state with the largest Puerto Rican population outside of the island, accompanied Mrs. Calderon at the inauguration of a voter-registration campaign.

If Mrs. Calderon truly cared about the political participation of Puerto Ricans, she would support full voting rights for her constituents on the island. That can only come through statehood for Puerto Rico, thereby eliminating its commonwealth status. Anything short of that smacks of a double standard that, unfortunately and ironically, leaves the American citizens of Puerto Rico with fewer democratic rights than Puerto Ricans who choose to settle in the mainland United States.



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