- The Washington Times - Friday, November 22, 2002

Orwell's America

Jacob Sullum's column, "Know-it-all plan to fight terrorism" (Commentary, Monday), further illustrates how surreal reality has become as the federal government uses September 11 to march us closer and closer to a police state that the KGB would have envied. The logo for the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program which, among other things, will monitor credit-card transactions and airline ticket purchases looks like the work of a brilliant satirist: a creepy eye atop a pyramid peers at the globe.

It's no surprise the top job in this Totally Insane Affront to our privacy will go to an expert in obscuring the truth, retired Adm. John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame. It's like the government starting up a bootlegging operation during Prohibition and hiring Al Capone to head it. And who would dare argue that Capone (or Adm. Poindexter) isn't highly qualified for the job?

Of course, the "customers" used to sustain this operation will necessarily be almost totally law-abiding citizens. It doesn't matter to the brains of this operation that terrorists are clever enough to bypass these measures in the same way a burglar bypasses a locked steel door to break in a window. ("Let's see, we know they are bugging our phones. Even so, why don't you phone me tonight so we can discuss our plans to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge?")

We are kept in constant anxiety by constant bombardment of "spectacular" terror threats while our Constitution is slowly and systematically gutted.

George Orwell wouldn't dare put anything as preposterous as a Homeland Security Department in his works, for even as satire it is simply too incredible.


Brookline, N.H.

McCain denies special interests

Yesterday's editorial, "Especially interesting votes," claims that Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, opposed last-minute earmarks added by the House to the Homeland Security bill because House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas was unwilling to extend liability protections to a private airport security company. The editorial is predicated on a wholly fictitious conversation between Mr. Armey and Mr. McCain, and is, in almost all of its particulars, inaccurate, deliberately untruthful and defamatory. The senator never discussed the subject with Mr. Armey. Nor did he discuss the subject with any member of the House leadership or staff.

In a November letter to Sen. Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, Mr. McCain made clear that while he shared the Bush administration's view that liability protections should either be granted to all or none of the private security companies, "I have not been fully briefed on all aspects of this matter and as such, will leave the ultimate decision regarding this provision to your discretion." This is Mr. McCain's "insistent pleading" on behalf of a special interest that your editorial purports.

Mr. McCain has consistently voted against earmarks that are added without discussion or public hearings that seek to advantage one interest at the expense of another. That used to be a pretty common Republican point of view. His vote for the amendment by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, was perfectly consistent with past practice, and whether you agree with his view or not, you have no grounds to impute his motives.

Mr. Armey, an honorable man, has sent Mr. McCain a statement confirming that he had "no conversation with you on the Homeland Defense Bill nor any part thereof, especially the issue of liability limitations on airport screeners." A copy of that statement was provided to The Washington Times, as well as a copy of Mr. McCain's letter to Mr. Lott. Yet, The Times refuses to publish a retraction, revealing a dishonorable unwillingness to concede error where it is abundant.

During the Cold War, conservatives disparaged The Washington Post as "Pravda on the Potomac." It seems that distinction now belongs to The Washington Times. Congratulations.


Administrative assistant

Sen. John McCain


[Editor's note: Please see the clarification in today's editorial lineup.]

Pakistan's undemocratic underpinnings

The conclusions found in "Studies say elites spurred to terror" (Business, Wednesday) are incomplete. The question should be, what causes political repression?

Pakistan and India were created in 1947 British-ruled India. When the British left, both of these nations inherited democracy. Hindu-majority India has remained secular and democratic, but Muslim-majority Pakistan couldn't sustain democracy and is now a dictatorship. Pakistan also has become a dominant source and sponsor of Islamic terrorism.

Pakistan couldn't sustain democracy because the retrogressive political indoctrination taught in its mosques does not allow the separation of church and state. This has led to political repression amid a flowering of Islamic fundamentalism.

This conclusion tells us that if the United States wants to make any Islamic state a model nation for democracy, it must first address the issue of the hateful and retrogressive preaching in its mosques.


Coram, N.Y.

Explaining 'homeland insecurity'

Paul Craig Roberts has the courage to actually say in print the fact that our slavish commitment to Israel is one cause of our current ride into oblivion under the leadership of President Bush ("A leap in the dark," Commentary, Tuesday). However, with a bit more grit and honesty, he might have opined that our connection to Israel is the mother of all our problems in the Middle East.

From 1955 through 1993, my work abroad led me to live in seven Muslim states. I watched in wonder as the world of Islam gradually radicalized and its attitude toward the United States turned from admiration to hatred. This occurred incrementally apace with our gradually strengthening ties to Israel. Observing the growing Muslim enmity at close proximity, it became clear to me that it is Zionism's control of our Middle East policies that midwifed Islam's anti-Western excesses.

Homeland insecurity is a result of bad foreign policy, and not a lack of attention to potential terrorists. As long as our basic foreign policies are flawed, we will continue on a course of domestic disaster.


Boulder City, Nev.

The problem with government outsourcing

I found Cal Thomas' view that opening 850,000 federal jobs to competition would increase efficiency and reduce cost hopeful but extremely naive ("Reinventing government II," Commentary, Wednesday).

After 23 years working in computer application system support, I've seen many companies "outsource" their support and later find it a dismal failure. Not only was doing so more costly but the contractor has many clients' work priorities to serve.

Federal department managers who establish contract requirements have no idea what their departments do, and their bid specifications and functions will be inaccurate and unrealistic. The invoices paid to contractors for the actual work will far exceed the "low-ball" bid.

Of course, companies bidding on federal contracts will have a new incentive for campaign contributions to the party in office especially important after campaign finance reform. That's what the civil service was designed to preclude. Problems within the civil service are legendary, but they generally begin at the top, in jobs filled by political appointees.

Most important, winning contractors often send confidential information out of the country. Americans would be horrified to learn that much of their personal financial information is actually maintained offshore. To send government information to countries with factions hostile to the United States is sheer lunacy.



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