- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 19, 2003

The White House's environmental problems

The article "Old law finds new use against oppressors" (World, Monday) is correct that the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), passed as part of the first Judiciary Act, poses a tremendous threat to global, and particularly U.S., economic well-being by its increasing use beyond the original intent. The real threat, however, is actually beyond the human rights context.
Most suits charging improper foreign-state activity purportedly abetted by U.S. companies doing business on their shores will continue to be dismissed on the grounds of forum non conveniens that is, so long as a judicial system of some transparency and reliability exists in that state, the witnesses, evidence, damage and the lawsuits' other relationship to that foreign state dictate that U.S. courts are not the appropriate venue.
One major threat the story cited vicarious liability for Chinese human rights abuses could foreseeably survive that defense, although those State Department protestations of the potential disruptive effect upon relations of allowing particular suits to proceed would likely persuade a court to deny U.S. jurisdiction. The more pressing exposure, however, lies in the looming threat of environmentalist groups and Third World natives seeking to impute liability to U.S. companies for their domestic operations purportedly causing severe weather events. Such claims face no diplomatic impediments or defenses that the United States is an inconvenient forum and are, therefore, likely to be the next generation of troubling ATCA litigation.
But how could U.S. companies possibly be held to account for Third World weather-related damage? Because the Bush administration says so. Through two formal positions on file with the United Nations, the administration holds forth that the United States accepts the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and the prescription of dramatic energy use reductions by industrialized countries. These are due to our still-valid signature on the Kyoto Protocol, inexplicable since President Bush announced the as-yet-unexecuted U.S. rejection more than two years ago. Valid signatures on even unratified treaties are routinely recognized in our courts as evidence of accepting the underlying principle(s), persuasive if accompanied by other consistent actions (such as the recent ATCA action Sarei et al. v. Rio Tinto). Such action is found in, for example, the "Climate Action Report 2002," filed with the United Nations by the Environmental Protection Agency despite the contents having been previously disavowed by the White House. This disavowal was in order to resolve litigation brought by my organization and several lawmakers exposing the document to be biased, scientifically useless and unlawfully produced. Yet, the combination of these two U.S. submissions could actually be deemed to acknowledge an actionable climate "law of nations" that will be up to the same system under which "navigable waterways" (wetlands) no longer must be wet.
Until the Bush administration gets its house in order on the climate front, it creates tremendous, unwarranted financial exposure for its citizens.

Senior fellow
Competitive Enterprise Institute

'A remarkable peace offer'

I returned from Baghdad last week with a very attractive offer that I worked out with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz ("Fauntroy bemoans U.S. rejection of peace plan," Metropolitan, yesterday).
Those interested in reviewing some of the details of the offer that our interracial, interfaith coalition of spiritual leaders from every faith community in America brought back last week for consideration may do so by going to www.nblr.org and downloading the items marked, "Peace Petition" and "Peace Proposal."
As one who had responsibility as chairman of the House Banking subcommittees on domestic monetary policy and international development, finance, trade and monetary policy which did the initial thinking on how we should handle the challenge posed by the euro I want Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, U.S. oil companies and Wall Street to read the offer and call upon President Bush for a "timeout" today to give them time to assess the value of what I think is a remarkable peace offer.

Former D.C. delegate to Congress

Pitching for Ted Williams

In Dick Heller's Monday Sports People column, "A Maryland man is going to bat for Teddy Ballgame," there are two items that require correction.
First, the Web-site address given in the article was incorrect. This is important because readers are requested to visit the Web site in order to file a complaint form to the Arizona attorney general and encourage an investigation into how Ted Williams' son is handling his father's remains. The correct site is https://pages.zdnet.com/washdc/saveted.
Second, the column states that one purpose of the Web site is "to protest the action taken by son John Henry Williams by contacting the Arizona attorney general's office … ." This point requires clarification, as it concerns a sensitive legal issue regarding the son.
There are two parts to this case: First, intervention concerning custody, the 1996 will and power of attorney. This point concerns Mr. Williams' son. The second part is treatment (the current process), which involves Alcor Life Extension.
Differences between the twowere explained during the interview, and it was indicated that my concern and Web site only deal with the treatment aspects in Arizona. In fact, there purposely is no mention of the son on the Web site or in related articles.
The objective of this complaint is to have the Arizona attorney general investigate the cryogenic treatment methods and, thereby, secure the release of Ted Williams' remains.
Otherwise, Dick Heller prepared a fine article regarding this objective, which many Ted Williams fans and baseball fans everywhere should share.

Silver Spring, Md.

Patriotic dissent

Monday's editorial, "The impending war," was a slap in the face of patriots who have the courage to question a potentially disastrous foreign policy that our president is undertaking. Is the new definition of a patriot one who doesn't question the leadership of this country?
The president is wrong for attacking Iraq because he has failed to produce evidence that the Iraqi regime was responsible for the September 11 attacks or poses a direct threat to the United States, and he has failed to obtain a congressional declaration of war. The editorial's assertion that congressional authorization for the president to wage war at his discretion is the same as a formal declaration of war is just false, according to the Constitution.
Theodore Roosevelt said, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country." Is President Bush standing by the country? Judge for yourself: He has repeatedly cited U.N. resolutions and objectives as justification to attack Iraq. When has he cited the U.S. Constitution, which he swore an oath to protect and defend? When has he sought a declaration of war that the Constitution demands before going into war against another country? Has the U.N. charter replaced our Constitution?
Your newspaper takes great pains to demonstrate that we must go into this war with a show of unity. Yet, by disagreeing with the president's decision, we make it known to those in the world who still admire our country that we abide by a written constitution and that our elected representatives govern their political behavior by it.
Being a patriot means defending the principles that made our country free. Principles do not change with each new administration. If our presidents are going to flout the Constitution to carry out their own agendas or worse, that of the United Nations then we no longer have a constitutional republic but one with an "anything goes" mentality.
I support our troops but not the policy that put them in the position they are now in.

Ashburn, Va.

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