- The Washington Times - Friday, May 10, 2002

The verdict on 'Unsigning the ICC'

Your May 8 editorial "Unsigning the ICC" contains multiple statements about the International Criminal Court that are indisputably false.
The editorial says Russia has not signed the treaty. Russia signed the treaty on Sept. 13, 2000.
The editorial says the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in signatory countries. This is incorrect. The court has jurisdiction over crimes committed in countries that have ratified the treaty and citizens of ratifying countries. The difference is significant because 139 countries 138 now that President Bush has renounced the U.S. signature have signed the ICC Treaty, but just 66 have ratified to date.
The editorial raises the possibility that "any case an American court dismisses could be revived by the Security Council on purely political grounds." This is true only if the United States votes to send the case to the ICC because the U.N. Charter empowers the United States to block any decision by the Security Council. It's a little hard to see the scenario where the president would send a case to the ICC that had been dismissed by a U.S. court, especially on "political grounds."
The final outright falsehood is that "the ICC is not accountable to anyone." The judges and prosecutors are accountable to the countries that ratify the treaty. To whom does The Washington Times think they should be accountable? As in the U.S. legal system, judges can be removed in a process analogous to impeachment. The prosecutor arguably is on a shorter leash than elected prosecutors in the United States.
The Washington Times doesn't like the ICC Treaty on philosophical grounds. That's fine, but The Times has an ethical obligation to present accurate information.


Not 'The Real Lincoln'

You are to be commended for publishing Mackubin Thomas Owens' expose of the latest deconstruction of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas DiLorenzo's "The Real Lincoln" ("Real Lincoln not found in book," Civil War, May 4). Like the postmodernists of Europe or their feminist and racialist American disciples, Mr. DiLorenzo displays a brazen disregard of the obvious meaning of the words and thoughts of his victims.
For example, he twists John Quincy Adams into a supporter of states' rights by misrepresenting two paragraphs in a 115-page speech Adams wrote in 1839. The whole of the speech is devoted to defending the idea that the United States is one republic with a sovereign national government, under a constitution founded upon the will of the American people. Nothing Lincoln said in the crucial period of 1860 to 1861 is more emphatic than Adams' speech that the doctrine of states' rights to secede is fallacious.
The error in Mr. DiLorenzo's reading of Lincoln, Adams and many other sources from our tradition is elementary. He fails to distinguish between two senses of the word "secession" secession as a separation justified by the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" and secession as a legal right of a subordinate community to separate. The one is rebellion, the other a peaceful and constitutional act.
He holds, fantastically and in the absence of any evidence, that the Revolution of 1776 was conceived by Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers as the exercise of a positive right held by the Colonies and, presumably, other provinces of the British Empire. It seems strange that a professor can get a manuscript on this great American dispute published without even taking notice of the distinction between rebellion and secession. These are strange times in the American academic world.
It is hard to see what good can come from this odd and shoddy little book. It distorts facts and maligns great men. It abounds in errors of fact and sloppy references, so that all but the most determined readers will have trouble checking the sources. Perhaps the shocking tone of its dismissal of Lincoln, who still is venerated by most Americans, will send a few back to the golden words of the "Great Emancipator" himself and his steadfast application of the principles of the Declaration. That, at least, would be a blessing.

Declaration Foundation
Santa Paula, Calif.

New driver's license legislation nothing to fear

Your May 4 editorial "Whatever happened to privacy?" raised some valid concerns about privacy in America. Hardly anyone, certainly not us, wants the United States to become a "show me your papers, please" nation, where citizens are checked at state border crossings.
However, your editorial incorrectly portrays our Driver's License Modernization Act as legislation that lays the groundwork for a national identification system.
The words "Property of the United States Government" will not be seen anywhere on state-issued driver's licenses, as you seem to imply. The licenses still will be issued from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, just as they are now.
There is no central database where information on a driver's license is stored. The states will maintain their own databases of information that will include the driver's name, address and driving record, just as they do now.
The states' databases, though, will be linked with one another and used to validate the identity of anyone applying for a driver's license and to track down criminals. This linkage is necessary to stop criminals and people with suspended driver's licenses or other serious violations from crossing state lines to obtain a driver's license.
A key component of the legislation is that a biometric identifier is included on the driver's license. This identifier, such as a fingerprint or an iris scan, is digitized, encrypted and put into a computer "smart" chip embedded in the card.
To maximize privacy, the driver's license number (usually the ubiquitous Social Security number) and address also could be placed on the chip. Contrary to the fears raised in your editorial, people will not be tracked once they get the new driver's license.
No one should think that because he or she submits a fingerprint he or she is being treated like a common criminal. The biometric identifier will only protect the license's holder from someone stealing his or her identity.
No one else has your fingerprint or iris, so it would be very hard for someone to assume your identity. If anyone did, he or she would be caught.
Teachers, social workers and home health care nurses have to submit to criminal background checks and fingerprinting. No one would think to call them criminals or even suspect criminality just because they submitted their fingerprints in order to get a job helping children, the poor and the elderly.
Except for being required to have some kind of biometric information, the states along with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and industry groups are instructed to come up with the guidelines on their own. Our bill even authorizes $315 million in grants for the licenses and to link the state databases.
You mentioned that there is a "creepy reality" to our legislation, primarily because it requires biometric identifiers.
The reality, though, is that as many as 800,000 people a year fall prey to identity theft. The reality is that four out of the five hijackers that smashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon on September 11 had fake Virginia driver's licenses. Those terrorists were able to exploit lax state driver's license regulations, and their identity could not be verified.
In no way is this an end run to a national identification card. Rather, this legislation is both practical and pragmatic, protecting people's liberty and security by helping to protect their identity.

U.S. House of Representatives

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