- The Washington Times - Monday, September 16, 2002

And that's the way he is

The blame-America-first viewpoint that Walter Cronkite expressed on "Larry King Live" commented upon in "Inside Politics" (Nation, Wednesday) is nothing new. For him, Third World poverty and American indifference caused the September 11 attacks.

For 40 years, Mr. Cronkite was arguably the nation's foremost TV reporter. Fellow journalists dubbed him "the most trusted man in America." His deep voice and avuncular smile added to his aura. Tellingly, he concluded each "CBS Evening News" program with: "And that's the way it is."

Yet, he filtered the news through a liberal-left prism. In more candid moments, he admitted indeed, gloried in his bias.

In 1974, when he was faulted for under-reporting hawkish views on national defense, Mr. Cronkite replied: "There are always groups in Washington expressing views of alarm over the state of our defenses. We don't carry those stories. The story is that there are those who want to cut defense expenses."

In a Playboy interview, he said most newsmen tend to be "liberal, and possibly left of center as well. They come to feel little allegiance to the established order. I think they're inclined to side with humanity rather than with authority."

With humanity no doubt firmly on his side, Mr. Cronkite went on to say of CBS, "We're big. And we're powerful enough to thumb our nose at threats from government. I hope it stays that way."


ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Chevy Chase

'First clean your own house'

How could the British government, supposedly our closest ally, countenance the Finsbury Park mosque and its incendiary "commemoration" of September 11 ("Radical Muslims urge campaign against U.S.," Page 1, Thursday)?

On the one hand, Sheik Abu Hamza al-Masri urges his followers to become foot soldiers in the struggle for Islamic victory against America and our "efforts to dominate the world." On the other, Prime Minister Tony Blair pledges America Britain's full military support. Evidently, he does not mind the sabotage of his and our country's joint effort because his own nation harbors terrorist supporters who publicly encourage terrorism against America and, by extension, Britain.

Before Mr. Blair sends troops to fight Saddam Hussein, he ought to clean his own house. Can you imagine what would have happened had anyone there rooted for Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler and urged his countrymen to join the Nazis during the blitz?

Unfortunately, today's political correctness trumps sensible action.

Instead of invading Iraq, the United States also should clean its own house. Despite last year's terrorist attacks, we continue to accept hordes of immigrants. Indeed, since last September, the State Department has issued some 200,000 visas to nationals of countries the United States itself dubs friendly to terrorists. Talk about giving aid and comfort to the enemy.


ROSALIND ELLIS

Baltimore

One mad Methodist

As a United Methodist, I was embarrassed by the anti-war comments of church official Jim Winkler ("Baptists, Methodists at odds over Iraq strike," Nation, Wednesday). I doubt that he speaks for the majority of United Methodists who support our president in his efforts to defend our freedom. Perhaps those who draw a paycheck from my church should focus on its primary mission: spiritual formation.

Many United Methodists are growing weary of their leaders making fools out of themselves in the public arena as they spout their own political opinions. If they did their job of providing spiritual leadership and nurturing their flock instead of being political mouthpieces, maybe they could stem the flow of people leaving the United Methodist Church for other denominations. These leaders are hurting a denomination that has an awful lot of potential good it could offer the world.

Rank-and-file Methodists may want to question the competency and relevance of employees such as Mr. Winkler and agencies within the church that do not support the church's mission. Learning where your contribution dollar goes might be the first step.


JOHN COVINGTON

Millersville, Md.

There is no such thing as a hacker-proof computer system

It is naive for the public to believe that the police computer system can't be hacked since the computer network for Virginia Beach's police department is probably networked ("On the boardwalk, mugging for the cops," Page 1, Friday). This means that through the network someplace, somewhere, is a connection that leads to the outside world by the Internet.

Such an opening on the police computer system is like having a subway tunnel with a door or skylight up to the street level. Any opening anywhere means there is a way in to the network of tunnels.

Determined hackers looking to get into this system will easily navigate through it, and, once they're in, disrupt or sabotage it. Doesn't the public realize that Asian and Middle Eastern invaders routinely trespass upon our military computer systems, which are supposed to be secure? Our electric and telephone systems are at risk. They scout them out for the next war with the United States. How will the police then secure such a system as face recognition if the military can't do it?

Pick up a copy of 2600 Hacker Quarterly at your magazine rack and read it sometime. See for yourself that a culture exists out there to trespass upon computers, not to mention the computer commandos looking for our national vulnerabilities.

I realize most people still look at computers with amazement. As a society, we will need to learn more about computer basics so we can hold our officials accountable when they make stupid statements, such as that a computer system cannot be hacked.


DAVID M. HOLDEN

St. Louis

What if you had a chemical plant in your backyard?

Angela Logomasini ("Toxic road map for terrorists," Op-Ed, Sept. 4) advocates eliminating public access to risk-management plans (RMPs) because it is possible the information could be misused. Perhaps she would agree with some in industry who propose that the government no longer collect RMPs because the information may fall into the wrong hands.

Many would consider such proposals extreme and likely to result in increased risk to the public's health and well-being. After all, RMPs provide information about chemical dangers in the community as a means to increase security and safety for residents.

The principles of open government and the people's right to know are cornerstones upon which our country was built. We should not hastily sacrifice these freedoms in the name of protecting them.

It is true that we already have laws to restrict disclosure of information on national security, law enforcement investigations and trade secrets, but the RMPs don't fit into any of those categories. So Ms. Logomasini would prefer a blanket secrecy approach, simply trusting companies to "do the right thing" in protecting the workers and communities. This approach gave us Love Canal, Bhopal, acid rain and thousands of hazardous waste sites across the country. With recent corporate scandals, it seems incredibly naive to remove an important check to ensuring that companies adequately inform and protect communities.

The true solution is to remove or reduce threats to manageable levels. After the September 11 attacks, the solution wasn't to stop posting airline schedules or shut down air travel. New security measures were implemented immediately to reduce the risk of airplanes being used in another terrorist attack. While more is still needed to reduce risks during air travel, the same intelligent approach should be used to handle the risks we face from chemical plants.

Sen. Jon Corzine, New Jersey Democrat, has a bill called the Chemical Security Act (S.1602). It spurs chemical companies to reduce the risks they pose to workers and communities by requiring them to assess their vulnerabilities and evaluate methods to reduce their risks, such as using inherently safer technologies and storing smaller quantities of toxic substances. This approach also benefits communities and workers by reducing the consequences from the common industrial accidents that continue to occur every day. The responsible approach is not burying our heads in the sand and hoping nothing goes wrong, but using information to identify and minimize the vulnerabilities.


SEAN MOULTON

Senior policy analyst

OMB Watch

Washington


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