- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Still under God
The State Department wants the rest of the world to hear that the United States, for the time being at least, remains "under God."
An unclassified dispatch obtained by this column yesterday, from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's office in Washington to all diplomatic and consular posts around the globe, states:
"Wednesday's decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals found that the teacher-led recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools violated the Constitution because it includes the words 'under God.' This decision has not yet taken effect, and has been placed on hold indefinitely while the other judges decide whether to reconsider the case.
"Furthermore, this was a specific court opinion applicable to that particular situation and location.
"Consequently, the State Department's legal [adviser] assures me that employees at post may publicly recite the pledge at any appropriate event, including official Independence Day events, as well as all other occasions."

Hardening the CIA
American citizens could turn out to be the biggest obstacle to preventing domestic terrorism, says a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
"It is a decent bet that many, if not most, Americans would have little stomach for a real war on terrorism on the home front," writes former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht, citing public opposition to "extensive ethnic and religious profiling that could come to dominate numerous aspects of American life."
American values, he explains, instead will require that the war be fought overseas by a beefed-up CIA that thus far has been unable to penetrate Osama bin Laden's world.
"While this job is extremely difficult, it is not impossible," says Mr. Gerecht, although he says the CIA will have to abandon its "Cold War structure" of posting operatives under embassy and consular cover far removed from radical Islamic terrorist cells.
"Washington-based [CIA] officers jet-setting out to the Middle East aren't likely to cross paths with Muslim militants either," he points out.
Rather, the current enemy "operates out of religious schools, Muslim fraternal associations and import-export businesses," he says.
"To deal with this threat, the agency has to have a majority of its operatives abroad operating under non-official cover. We need Arabic-speaking officers and foreign agents able to penetrate Muslim communities in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, where terrorists are finding shelter and recruits."
Mr. Gerecht concludes that much now depends on President Bush's willingness to take on the intelligence establishment and "force the CIA to become more clever, more aggressive and much less comfortable."

Educate elsewhere
A new paper by Harvard economist George Borjas argues for a wholesale re-evaluation of this country's foreign-student program.
The good professor says the seemingly sensible, and even noble, aims of the program mask the fact that it fails to serve the national interest. Consider these findings:
The net gain to the economy from the employment of foreign students and foreign graduates is less than $1 billion per year.
The 275,000 foreign students at public institutions alone receive a subsidy from U.S. taxpayers of about $2.5 billion per year.
About 74,000 U.S. schools have been certified by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to accept foreign students.

Solar sawing?
Those catastrophic forest fires burning in Arizona are now 60 percent contained, and Matthew Specht, spokesman for Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake, tells us fire crews are hoping for "complete containment by Sunday."
Mr. Flake, a Republican member of the House Resources Committee, will no doubt be paying close attention to future preventative measures to decrease the severity of such fires, including controversial forest thinning.
"Since the beginning of the devastating fires in Colorado and Arizona, many environmentalists finally conceded that some forest thinning is needed to prevent these types of severe fires," notes Mr. Flake. "However, one group, Forest Guardians, suggests thinning the forest using 'solar-powered' chain saws."
Solar-powered chain saws?
"I know my way around the hardware store pretty well," the congressman chuckles, "but I've never seen the solar-powered-chain saw section."
Kirsten Stade, a member of the Forest Guardians, was quoted in a recent East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune article as saying the group supports forest thinning so long as it does not benefit commercial loggers and is done with solar-power chain saws.
"We all know that some radical environmentalists have too much influence on our forest policy," notes Mr. Flake. "But it's clear that some also have too much time on their hands."

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