- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

Columnist's incomplete confession

Bruce Bartlett was brave in admitting that his views on past wars were wrong ("Neutral no more," Commentary, Wednesday). I hope he will have the courage to do so again with regard to his support for a war on Iraq.

He is right on one important point: Conquering Iraq will not stop Islamic terrorists against the United States. Indeed, most evidence, along with world opinion, suggests that terrorism will only increase after a U.S.-led war on Iraq. Unlike past conventional wars in which we were victorious, this one will not spare Americans and our allies from escalating death and destruction.

The Iraqi people do, as Mr. Bartlett saysþ "deserve liberation," but Americans and all other peoples of the world also deserve to be liberated from the fear of such horrors as terrorism and war.

I would like to see President Bush show real leadership by expanding the most basic American principle justice for all to his foreign-policy agenda. If he insists on going forward with this war, I hope he will start planning for a postwar Iraq and a postwar world that will minimize future conflicts. Only the equal application of justice through the global rule of law can effectively replace the law of force.

When Mr. Bartlett accepts this pragmatic idealism, his errors on Iraq will be rendered moot.


MARY JENKINS

Falls Church

Ambassador glosses over truth

I would like to offer some facts left out of the Op-Ed column by Venezuela's ambassador to the United States, Bernardo Alvarez Herrara ("All men are created equal," Op-Ed, Tuesday). After a failed coup attempt in 1992, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998. He proceeded to set up armed gangs called Bolivarian Circles, which are extra-legal militias loyal to his political movement. Then he and his backers in the legislature rewrote the nation's constitution to extend his term in office and give him the power to rule by decree.

For Mr. Herrara to suggest that Venezuela deserves respect for supposedly extending some "rights" to its citizens in a more timely fashion than the United States vis-a-vis the civil rights movement is just false, not to mention odious. The truth is that the anti-Chavez protesters are fighting for their freedom and the United States seems to pay them little attention.


TOM COWAN

Gainesville, Fla.

Million Mom March over facts

Because Ladd Everett of the Million Mom March has her facts wrong ("Guns and D.C.," Letters, Wednesday), it isn't surprising that her conclusions are foolish.

First, she outrageously claims that Attorney General John Ashcroft is "the only government official in modern history to take the position that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right." In fact, Mr. Ashcroft's position is in accord with the overwhelming majority of those who have studied this issue. When the U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee studied this issue in 1982, it reported: "The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the Second Amendment … indicates that what is protected is an individual's right and represents no one but himself in that view."

No known document of the time period of the Constitutional Convention, the debates or ratifying conventions even suggests that the framers had in mind a collective (and not an individual) right to bear arms. The earliest known documents suggesting the bogus "collective right" theory were scribbled by 20th-century gun-control zealots.

Mrs. Everett also misrepresents the Supreme Court's 1939 U.S. vs. Miller decision, which expressly held that the militia is not a military unit. Rather, it is a civilian concept, as the decision itself notes: "The signification attributed to the term 'Militia' appears from the debates in the Constitutional Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. … These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense … And further that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time."

Moreover, the National Guard is not a militia as the term is used in the Second Amendment; it is a simple historical fact that the Guard was formed under Congress' power to raise armies and not under the militia clause of the Constitution.

As to Mrs. Everett's characteristic closing cheap shot, one need only compare the lowered violent crime rates in jurisdictions that have implemented concealed-carry laws to the abject failure of the District's handgun ban (illustrated by Mrs. Everett's own sad statistics) to illuminate the sanctimonious hypocrisy of the those who would deny citizens the means to defend themselves and their families. Laws that target the law-abiding rather than criminals will always do more harm than good.


MICHAEL AND HWA CRAWFORD

Great Falls

After-school programs short-changed

The article on the Mathematica study of 21st Century Community Learning Centers ("After-school programs don't teach," Nation, Wednesday) gave a lot of weight to some questionable data about behavior problems and after-school students.

Two issues should be of great concern. First, the data used to reach the negative conclusions about behavior were entirely student-reported. This is of limited value, as any parent of a child caught with a hand in the cookie jar will tell you. Second, the questions the researchers asked children were so open-ended that there is no way to tell if the slight behavioral differences between after-school students and the control group had anything to do with their after-school programs or even if the incidents students reported had occurred within the past several years. The questions essentially asked students about their life experiences as a whole. It is hard to invest too much faith in the resulting data, especially when the study shows there were pre-existing significant differences between the after-school students and the control group. It is harder still to use this data as the basis for broad conclusions about after-school programs' effect on student behavior.

I worked for the Department of Education's 21st Century program when the Mathematica study was commissioned. I can tell you that we never imagined that the study, and particularly the first year's worth of data it generated, would be offered as justification for the kind of deep budget cut the Bush administration is proposing for after-school programs. These data simply do not support the kind of broad, sweeping conclusions that some are offering. And one study certainly does not justify slashing the budget for the after-school programs on which parents, students and communities rely.


JENNIFER M. RINEHART

Associate director

Afterschool Alliance

Washington

Crossed-wires on cable commentary

The cable industry cannot allow to stand a falsehood that appears in Wednesday's editorial "The future of telecommunications." The editorial states that in providing broadband access, cable companies "limit what sites Internet users can visit, as benefits their business model." This is incorrect.

Cable modem providers allow customers to reach any Web site without restriction. Indeed, access to the entire Internet benefits cable's business model because it best serves our customers' desires.

Given the importance of this "go anywhere" philosophy, both to Internet users and cable modem service providers, it borders on the reckless to have included this false statement in your editorial. Please set the record straight.


DANIEL BRENNER

Senior vice president

Law and regulatory policy

National Cable & Telecommunications Association

Washington


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