- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Have faith in America's nuclear deterrents

In his Jan. 7 Commentary column, "Nuclear meltdown," Frank Gaffney called into question the safety, security and reliability of our nation's nuclear deterrent as well as the industrial/scientific infrastructure that supports the deterrent. As the person with the day-to-day responsibility for this program, I feel it is important to set the record straight. Under the Bush administration, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is aggressively implementing a nuclear weapons Stockpile Stewardship Program, a program which, by virtue of its national imperatives, technical breadth and thoroughness of planning, has resulted in congressional appropriations that are more than 50 percent higher today than they were in the mid-1990s under President Clinton. This program, using American science and technology the world's best is working to ensure the continued safety, security and reliability of this country's nuclear deterrent without full nuclear testing.
In addition, under the leadership of President Bush and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, the NNSA is well on its way to restoring the full suite of manufacturing capabilities needed to respond to any stockpile contingency. To ensure that the existing nuclear weapons stockpile continues to meet its military requirements, the NNSA also has a comprehensive refurbishment program known as Stockpile Life Extension. Work is under way on four warhead types in the enduring stockpile. Morale across the complex has benefited greatly from these investments. This contributes greatly to the ability of the labs and plants to recruit and retain the next generation of scientists and engineers.
With the support of Congress, these efforts by the Bush administration in science, engineering and infrastructure upgrades have allowed the Defense Department's commander of Strategic Command and the laboratory directors of Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories to continue to certify to the president of the United States that the nation's nuclear deterrent is safe, secure and reliable.

EVERET BECKNER
Deputy administrator for defense programs
National Nuclear Security Administration
Washington

The longest 'day'

I wish to respond to a statement in Maggie Gallagher's Saturday Commentary column, "Professing evolution." Referring to the Genesis creation account, she asks, "What the heck can a day mean before God separates light and dark?" To this I would ask, "What the heck can a writer mean by publishing a column without first learning something about her topic?"
Evidently, Mrs. Gallagher doesn't realize that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, not English. The term translated as "day" in Genesis is the Hebrew word "yom," which is used elsewhere in the Bible to mean "a long season" (Joshua 24:7) and an "era" (Isaiah 4:2). There certainly is no biblical basis for assuming the "day" in Genesis translates into 24 hours.
Mrs. Gallagher also pays homage to the "impressive scientific consensus behind [evolution]." Actually, the average practicing scientist has an understanding of evolution probably equal to Mrs. Gallagher's comprehension of Old Testament hermeneutics. To give Mrs. Gallagher her due, she is correct to criticize Michael Dini, a biology professor at Texas Tech, for his refusal to recommend students who won't pledge allegiance to the theory of evolution. Such doctrinaire arrogance is the antithesis of an inquiring mind and the scientific method. I suggest that The Washington Times give Mr. Dini serious consideration for its next knave of the week award.

C.M. ROLAND
Waldorf, Md.

Let sleeping dogs of war lie

A large and growing number of Americans agree with the premises enunciated in Thursday's editorial "Smoking intercepts," namely: that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator who has biological and chemical weapons and thus is in violation of U.N. resolutions. Yet, I am opposed to the impending invasion because its consequences could be more damaging than the problems it seeks to solve. Cases in point include:
n The invasion will set the timing for the use of dreaded biological and chemical weapons and also determine their targets: American troops and Israeli and Kuwaiti civilians.
The invasion is sapping financial, military and "first response" resources that should be used against the real threats to our national security posed by al Qaeda and North Korea.
The invasion promises to activate al Qaeda sleeper cells to sow terror upon U.S. civilians.
The invasion will endanger the Iraqi civilian population and disrupt the fragile food-distribution system, leading to massive famine.
The invasion is distracting the Bush administration from dealing with the economic, educational and medical problems confronting our own people.
The invasion will burden our children and grandchildren with a huge national debt arising from the massive military and nation-building costs.
The invasion will isolate us, casting the United States as the world's bully rather than its champion of peace and justice.
The invasion is not inevitable. To be sure, we have invested a great deal in preparing for it, but this effort has served the purpose of impressing Saddam Hussein and other evil dictators with our ability to mobilize our military might in distant lands.
Iraq is not our top problem, and even most of its neighbors do not feel threatened by it. Iraq certainly cannot strike them while the U.N. inspectors are roaming around the country, anyway. So let the U.N. inspectors do their job as we focus on our real problems at home and abroad.

ALEX HERSHAFT
Bethesda

Using a calamity to take a cheap shot

Echoing the same twisted logic and rhetoric of those who support the suicide bombing of innocent Israelis by Arab murderers, a letter writer launched a vitriolic attack not only against Israel and the Israeli pilot who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia, but Jews in general and the historical truth of the Holocaust ("Misfired eulogy of Israeli astronaut," Saturday). Equating the murder of 6 million Jews during the Third Reich with the present situation in Israel vis-a-vis the terrorist actions of the Palestinian Authority and the defensive efforts of Israel by portraying Israel as the perpetrator and not the victim is obscene.
Certainly, the writer should be aware of the massacres of Jews by Arabs during the British mandate on Palestine, the most notable being in Hebron in 1929 and 1936. She certainly also should remember that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a relative of Yasser Arafat's, not only collaborated with Adolf Hitler, but was instrumental in the Holocaust, attempting to extend it to Jewish communities in the Middle East.
Successive offensive wars by Arab nations against Israel were unsuccessful. When Mr. Arafat was given a final chance to forge a lasting peace with Israel, his response was only continuing terror, for which both Israel and the Palestinian Arab people have reaped a grim reward. Israel, along with the United States, cannot allow its citizens to be subjected to terror without ferreting out the perpetrators. If these cowards choose to hide behind their civilian population, they are the cause of civilian casualties among their own people.
Mr. Arafat and his terrorist organizations have started a war instead of opting for an honorable peace. They are suffering along with Israelis for their resort to terror. For a letter writer to choose the Columbia disaster as an occasion to present her anti-Israeli views is not only obscene, but an affront to the Columbia's brave astronauts.

NELSON MARANS
Silver Spring

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