- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2003

The reward for honesty?

In regard to the article “Park chief threatened with firing for talking” (Metropolitan, Dec. 19): As is so evident in today’s society, law enforcement officials and departments need — and deserve — full support, funding and manpower to fulfill the mission of public safety. It thus seems naive to muzzle the messenger of this truth rather than heeding her necessary message about staffing problems. As the saying goes, people must be told what they need to hear rather than only what they want to hear.

U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers should be applauded and respected for presenting her (experienced) views to better her force — rather than being muzzled for demonstrating honesty. Her “superiors” should remove their rose-colored glasses and professionally examine such suggestions (which would improve officer morale) rather than merely attempting to silence the messenger for caring about public security.

JOE HAMMELL

Waynesboro, Pa.

Iran and Iraq: Sever the tie

The article “Saddam capture seen as aid to ties” (Page 1, Tuesday) clearly reveals Tehran’s role in Iraq and its goal to eliminate its most serious opposition force in the region. Our organization has been monitoring the news on the Iranian mojaheddin in Iraq. The Iraqi Governing Council’s statement to expel the Mujahideen Khalq sparked a protest by the relatives of Iranian mojaheddin in the United States and leaders of the Iranian-American communities. These protests include nightly candlelight vigils in front of the White House. Although Ambassador L. Paul Bremer said Saturday that the Iranian mojaheddin would not be extradited to Iran, the decision to send them to other countries is still in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Let us review the mojaheddin’s activities in Iraq over the past several months. The Iranian mojaheddin were not party to the recent conflict in Iraq, and they announced that before the beginning of the war. Although they signed a cease-fire agreement with the coalition forces in April, they did not fire a single bullet during the conflict. On May 11, Iranian mojaheddin leaders agreed to disarm and cooperated with the U.S. forces. Gen. Ray Odierno, who managed the disarmament agreement, is on the record saying, “[T]hey have been very supportive of the U.S. through this operation.”

It is no secret that Tehran’s regime is behind the recent decision of the Iraqi Governing Council to expel the mojaheddin. This decision is politically motivated. The status of the Iranian mojaheddin in Iraq, given the Fourth Geneva Convention and the role of the U.S. forces as the “occupying forces,” should not subject them to expulsion. This decision is in contrast to the good will of the Iraqi people as many of their leaders called for reversing the IGC’s decision in its press conference in London last week. Tehran’s regime has the audacity even to threaten Europe if the Iranian mojaheddin are sent there. Iran’s general prosecutor said Sunday that the transfer of mojaheddin will have “many political, economic and security consequences.”

President Bush should intervene urgently. Iranian mojaheddin should remain in Iraq, as it is their legal right based on international law. Tehran should not be given a free hand in Iraq.

RAMESH SEPEHRRAD

President

National Committee of Women for Democratic Iran

Washington

Jingle all the way

Thank you for the article reaffirming the historical consensus that James Pierpont received his inspiration to write and perform “Jingle Bells” in snowy Medford, Mass. (” ‘Jingle Bells’ dispute jangles on,” Page 1, Wednesday). Clearly, Pierpont’s move back to Georgia left New England on his mind. We can all be thankful that Savannah has an efficient office of copyrights and patents.

REP. EDWARD J. MARKEY

Massachusetts Democrat

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington

Missing deadlines and controlling the borders

An afterthought to the Dec. 19 article “Security checks seen falling short” (Nation): On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge raised the terrorism alert level from yellow to orange, yet the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has fallen far behind in meeting the deadlines of the implementation schedule required by the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. Of 22 mandated deadlines that already have passed, more than half (13) were missed. Among the missed deadlines are:

• The failure to report any progress on the development of an integrated biometric-based Chimera database that would give the State Department and DHS real-time access to intelligence, law enforcement and immigration information on every alien.

• As of yet, there has been no installation of machines at most points of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border that can read and compare biometric information on Border Crossing Cards. Without these, there is greater fraudulent use of the cards.

• The government still is not checking the names of all aliens from “visa waiver” countries against terrorist watch lists at ports of entry, even though it was required to do so upon enactment of the visa-tracking law.

Because visa-waiver aliens are not checked by the U.S. consulates before their arrival in America, checking these names is critical at entry ports.

Though I agree with Sen. Robert C. Byrd that President Bush needs to continue to ask Congress for more resources, Congress also needs to provide them and should hold oversight hearings to force the administration to obey the law.

If fully implemented, the visa-tracking law could significantly enhance national security and also aid in reducing illegal immigration by making it harder for an alien to overstay a temporary visa. Many loopholes that have been used by terrorists in the past still exist. If the administration and Congress fail to ensure that the law is implemented, terrorists could again enter our country. We should not then be surprised if there is another attack on our homeland.

PHYLLIS NEMETH

Arcadia, Calif.

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In regard to the article “Security checks seen falling short” (Nation, Dec. 19): The single greatest farce of our war on terror is the fact that more than 2,000 people walk over the U.S.-Mexican border every day. They come from China, India, South America and Africa, among many other places. They bring diseases such as leprosy, tuberculosis and hepatitis. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge’s “orange alert” is as effective as a Blue Light Special at Kmart for stopping terror.

Until we put troops on our borders, our efforts in Iraq are a waste of time as terrorists plan their next attack unimpeded by any real security at our Mexican border.

FROSTY WOOLDRIDGE

Louisville, Colo.


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