- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003

District is a well-oiled machine

Yesterday’s Page One article addressing the number of District employees making more than $100,000 per year, “Republican lawmakers to investigate District’s salaries,” shows that there is a great deal of confusion over a very important issue. There was no refusal on the part of the District to investigate the salary levels of its employees, as the District conducted a thorough analysis of administrative costs, including salary levels, as part of its 2004 budget formulation. The office of the mayor shared that data with the D.C. Council in early March.

Among the key findings about the 575 District employees who earn more than $100,000 per year are:

44 percent work in agencies independent of the mayor’s personnel authority.

13 percent made $100,000 or more before 1999.

19 percent received standard pay increases during the past four years that elevated their salaries above $100,000.

9 percent serve in new or upgraded positions in newly chartered agencies.

Just 11 percent (61 employees) serve in positions in agencies under the mayor’s personnel authority that existed before 1999 that were upgraded during the past four years.

4 percent (21 employees) fall in categories outside the groups cited above.

As I explained to your reporter, having completed this study, the District is beginning to look at organizational structures to determine if agencies have the appropriate number of managers, regardless of salary level. Additionally, this research supplements the completed salary analysis and is not being conducted instead of the salary analysis, as your article implies.

The ultimate question, as many commentators have noted, is the performance of the agencies and the senior managers. The mayor feels very strongly that agencies and their leaders should have clear, measurable goals and that they should be evaluated on their performance against those goals. This performance information is readily available to the general public. Anyone interested in the District’s performance in relation to the mayor’s Scorecard goals may visit the Mayor’s Corner on the District Web site (https://dc.gov) to view the results for 2002 and the first quarter of 2003 for all Cabinet agencies. Also, the District annually files a Performance Accountability Report for the council and Congress.

As is evident in that report, the District has one of the most comprehensive performance management and accountability systems of any major city in the United States. The mayor is committed to improving performance by agencies and their employees in the most cost-effective manner possible. Unfortunately, the council was forced by budgetary constraints, which all states and cities are facing, to cut funds that were to be dedicated to benchmarking District agency performance against other jurisdictions. However, the mayor remains committed to using all available data on examples of excellence from other jurisdictions so that the District may learn from and improve government performance.

JOHN A. KOSKINEN

City administrator

Washington

Gen. Franks and ‘command responsibility’

I do not disagree with the headline of Loredana Vuoto’s Thursday Op-Ed column, “Gen. Franks is not a war criminal.” Indeed, from what I know, I agree wholeheartedly that Gen. Tommy Franks and the forces under his command took caution to avoid civilian deaths, from the “bombing of a marketplace” to the “shooting of an ambulance.”

I disagree, however, with Miss Vuoto’s negative characterization of the principle of “command responsibility.” The reality is that a commander is not liable if by accident or reasonably unforeseen misfortune civilians are killed in military operations. Command responsibility is not a “strict liability” or “malum prohibitum” crime. The column’s mischaracterization of this command-responsibility rule is mischievously overbroad and appears to be purposefully inflated to set up opposition against the principle and against the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It is not true that the command-responsibility rule requires finding, to quote the column, “political and military leaders are legally culpable if they fail to do ‘everything possible’ to prevent isolated acts committed by individual soldiers in battle.” Nor is it true that under this principle Gen. Wesley Clark “should be indicted for mistakes committed in … NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia” (such as the accidental cruise missile attack on the Chinese Embassy).

Rather, an off-course missile or mistake in targeting or “isolated acts of individual soldiers” would not result in liability under command responsibility. These acts would result in liability only if they were, first, war crimes, and, second, only if the commander met two independent tests under international law that have been incorporated into the ICC Rome Statute Article 28, as well as other international war crimes tribunals. These tests are:

That the commander either knew or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that the forces were committing or about to commit such crimes.

That the commander failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.

The recent use by the U.S. military of legal officers to vet missile and bombing targets, the education and dissemination of the laws of war and the stated willingness to abide by those laws and to prosecute any offenders, indicate that the Belgian legal action to charge Gen. Franks with war crimes should fail.

More important, any U.S. opposition to the ICC should not be based upon a misunderstanding and fear of the principle of command responsibility for war crimes. There are other reasons advanced, but space is limited here.

As the first international prosecutor in Kosovo for the U.N. Mission there, I and my colleagues — prosecutors and judges from “coalition of the willing” countries such as Great Britain, Poland, Italy, Australia, Hungary, the Philippines and Spain — apply this principle of command responsibility to obtain justice for the victims and fair procedure for the accused.

MICHAEL E. HARTMANN

Senior fellow

J. Randolph Program of International Peace

U.S. Institute of Peace

Washington

Editor’s note: The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily those of his employer.

Gun grab or political feint?

My voice was one of the many voices heard exercising our First Amendment rights by standing outside the vice president’s house a few years ago and telling Al Gore to “Get out of Cheney’s house.” So, I am a strong supporter of President Bush.

I am also a strong supporter of the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms. So, I am disappointed in the president’s current position on the so-called assault weapons ban (“Bush, NRA at odds on weapons ban,” Nation, Friday). While disappointed, I have not lost faith and believe this position is simply a political move on what I certainly hope is a moot point.

If Congress does its job and protects and defends the Constitution from future infringement of our rights, this law will be allowed to expire and certain high-profile liberals will be left out in the cold with their attempts to usurp our freedoms. Let’s hope that all freedom-loving lawmakers let this law fade into the sunset.

ROBERT E. BRAND

Gaithersburg

Charity begins at home

Hooray for the chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that is asking Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to delay signing a bill to provide in-state tuition for illegal aliens (“Tuition bill gets NAACP caution,” Metropolitan, Thursday). The chapter’s concern is that needy Americans should get scholarships before illegal aliens get financial aid.

Supporters of the bill say that education would not be cut. As a retired government budget analyst, I can assure folks that somebody’s ox will be gored. Most likely that will be a poor person’s.

If the bill’s supporters would like the names of needy American students, they should contact local teachers. My sister teaches in Baltimore city schools and says she can provide a list of hundreds who need scholarships.

Charity begins at home. We must educate our own children first.

LINDA H. THOM

Coupeville, Wash.

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