- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Pardon our spelling

The Baltimore Orioles would like to apologize for misspelling the word "duffel" in a letter to fans who received a free duffel bag for attending the Orioles' May 16 game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, as reported in Dick Heller's May 25 column, "Baseball wearing a bag over its head."

We can only hope that Mr. Heller offers an apology to John Greeley, the Orioles director of retail operations, whose name was misspelled as "Joe" in the same column.

One of the first things journalism students are taught is, if you can't get the subject's name right, how can readers believe the rest of what you write?

We promise to use a dictionary next time to check our spelling, as we hope that Mr. Heller will use our media guide, which was sent him before the season started, to check his facts, too.


BILL STETKA

Director of Public Relations

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore

Facing ALS with the Gehrig spirit

While golfer Jeff Julian has the same illness as baseball legend Lou Gehrig, he has not let amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) deter his spirit for living. So thank you for featuring this extraordinary man and his brave response to living with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease ("Julian's battles go beyond perimeter of golf course," Sports, May 30). Hopefully his story not only will give inspiration to the some 30,000 ALS patients nationwide and their families, but to everyone dedicated to finding a cure for this devastating disease.


MIKE HAVLICEK

President

The ALS Association

Calabasas Hills, Calif.

Message to Vietnam: Look who's talking

As reported Saturday, the Vietnam Foreign Ministry has accused former Sen. Bob Kerrey of war crimes ("Vietnam accuses Kerrey of war crimes," World Scene, June 1). Some chutzpah. A few blasts from the communist regime's past prove that it has absolutely no moral authority to judge Mr. Kerrey.

During the Vietnam War, the regular and irregular military forces under the control of North Vietnam waged a systematic campaign of terror against the civilian population of South Vietnam. The essential facts are not new; they are recorded in U.S. Army records, and also have been reported by independent publications such as Time magazine.

Consider that during the war, about 16,000 South Vietnamese civilians were murdered. While many were local government officials, the majority were ordinary civilians suspected of being potentially hostile to the communists. Teachers were favorite targets because, according to a captured document: "…they were people with a profound understanding of politics, people who were pure nationalists who might be able to assume anti-Communist leadership in their areas. Such people are very dangerous and are classed as traitors."

The systematic nature of communist terrorism distinguished it from civilian deaths caused by American forces, most of which were accidental and occurred in the heat of battle. Compare the chaotic raid carried out by Mr. Kerrey's Navy SEAL team in February 1969, which resulted in about a dozen civilian deaths, with the approximately 5,000 civilians who were rounded up and murdered during the communist occupation of the city of Hue during the 1968 Tet Offensive.

These atrocities were not the random excesses of undisciplined troops. They were part of a terror campaign aimed at liquidating those who might resist a communist utopia. In this regard, the Vietnamese behaved no differently from their communist comrades elsewhere during the 20th century.

So if the present Vietnamese government wants to assign blame for crimes committed more than 30 years ago, it first should remove the beam in its own eye.


WOLF LEHMANN

Retired Foreign Service Officer

Rockville

Bring your guns to town

It's refreshing to know that perhaps in the future, law-abiding people in the District of Columbia may once again be able to keep and bear arms, thereby guaranteeing their right to self-defense. It astonishes me that gun-grabbing liberals fail to realize that defying the Second Amendment merely takes guns out of the hands of the very people they purport to protect lower and middle class working people. Criminals care little about the letter of the law. They always will be armed and dangerous.

I no longer work in Washington, and I never would consider living there. Who wants to live in a city where only criminals and wealthy people in gated communities have the right to safety and self-protection? I prefer Virginia, where all law-abiding citizens may defend themselves and even obtain a conceal-and-carry permit.


JOSEPH PICKETT

Alexandria

The Stinger missile boomerangs

Recent warnings about the threat posed by al Qaeda terrorists armed with Stinger shoulder-launched missiles ("Terrorists smuggle missiles into U.S.," News, May 31) is another reminder of how American weapons shipped abroad can come back to haunt us in unexpected and potentially tragic ways.

Any Stingers currently in al Qaeda's possession probably date back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, during which the CIA distributed more than 1,000 of the shoulder-fired missiles to rebels fighting the Soviets. Despite a decade-old buy back program, hundreds of these missiles remain at large.

While certainly among the most troubling, the lost Stingers are only one of many examples of U.S. weapons and weapons technologies ending up in the wrong hands. The Israelis have repeatedly diverted U.S. missile technology to China. Iraq was able to improve the targeting system of its Scud missiles with the help of American technology obtained from the Brazilians.

It is time to reconsider our role as the world's largest arms exporter. The lives of American soldiers and civilians may hang in the balance.


MATTHEW SCHROEDER

Research Associate

Arms Sales Monitoring Project

Federation of American Scientists

Washington

The Wall needs no explanation

The 1986 Commemorative Works Act aimed to curtail the alarming overbuilding on the Mall, but it's been chipped away at time and again. First the World War II Memorial was exempted, and then the Martin Luther King Memorial. Now Congress has found another special, worthy cause to exempt from the law: an underground education center adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial. Regrettably, The Times favors this new addition ("Memorial Squabble," Editorial, June 1).

Where will the buildup end? Once there's an education center for the Vietnam Memorial, it's only a matter of time before there will be ones for the Korean and WWII memorials for who would argue that those conflicts don't deserve the same respect? This proposal sets a precedent that will lead to the further crowding of the Mall, which, by definition, is an open space.

Not only is this bad in principle, but an education center for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial would detract from its very noteworthiness. The power of that memorial lies in its simplicity those black, shiny walls inscribed with the names of the fallen. Descending and then ascending past those thousands of names, one feels and experiences their sacrifices. It is a sober reminder of the price of freedom. The Wall needs no further explanation, so trying to "explain" it with an education center is superfluous anyway.


JUDY SCOTT FELDMAN

Chairman

National Coalition to Save Our Mall

Rockville


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