- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2003

Not quite Wilsonian

In response to your Friday editorial “A Wilsonian call for Freedom” on President Bush’s notable address to the National Endowment for Democracy, let me say this: Mr. Bush may have overstated the possibility for freedom and democracy in the Middle East, but he didn’t go as far as President Wilson, who had a touching confidence in the capacity of words in solemn international covenants to shape the future.

In his zeal, Wilson urged a reluctant Senate to support the League of Nations: “Dare we reject it and break the heart of the world? The stage is set, the destiny disclosed … by the hand of God.” Though Mr. Bush invoked the historical God, he doesn’t invest Wilsonian confidence in international treaties or the United Nations. Nor does he believe that democracy American-style is possible or necessary throughout the world.

In what may be the most remarkable and least-remarked-about sentence of his address, Mr. Bush declared, “Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics or parliamentary systems.” He noted that Jordan, a constitutional monarchy, held elections last summer.

Even more important, Jordan respects the rights of its people more effectively than some “democratic” South American states that are too weak to protect their people against terrorists and drug lords.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Chevy Chase

Battling legislation

Sen. Zell Miller’s characterization of the battle over the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security is either ill-informed or insultingly disingenuous (“‘Able Democrats but left-wing all the way,’” Page 1, Tuesday).

First, he fails to note that the administration and Republicans in Congress opposed, for nine long months, the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. (Senate Republicans voted unanimously in committee against Sen. Joe Lieberman’s proposal for the creation of the new department.) It was only after public outcry forced the Republicans’ hand toward such a reorganization that the administration embraced Mr. Lieberman’s idea — but with a few major hitches. First among them, the administration’s version of the bill stripped DHS employees of their most fundamental rights. Clearly, once forced by the American people to address an issue it had hoped to avoid (preparedness for and deflection of future terrorist attacks), the administration saw a legislative opportunity to reward friends and punish opponents just in time for the 2002 elections. It was the administration and the Republican leadership who picked a fight over employee rights, not the other way around.

To say the union stood in the way of the president’s ability to “move around” employees in a “time of national emergency” is flat-out wrong. In the version of the legislation backed by the American Federation of Government Employees, the union I am privileged to lead, the president would have retained those powers. We made no attempt to change the long-standing law that allows the president to exempt relevant personnel from their union rights during a true emergency.

Nonetheless, it’s difficult for us to imagine our union rights getting in the way of an effective emergency response. Witness September 11: The Federal Emergency Management Agency employees we represent ran to the disaster sites and worked seemingly endless shifts in the days that followed the attacks. No one refused his or her duties; they all performed beyond their usual scope of work with pride and without complaint.

Rather than disparage the dedicated federal employees who serve their nation with pride (many of them veterans of the armed forces), Mr. Miller would better serve his constituents by challenging the administration’s crusade against the rank-and-file employees of the federal government — especially those in the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense who have demonstrated their loyalty to God and country, often at risk to their own well-being.

JOHN GAGE

National president

American Federation of Government Employees

Washington

Playing both sides of the fence

Ever since the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee was formed in 1976, it has been proud to proclaim that politics never has entered into its deliberations. But we learn now that a disgruntled staffer for Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, prepared a secret “attack memorandum” — a game plan delineating how the Democrats should accuse the Bush administration of using “dubious motives” to drag the United States into war in Iraq (“Memo infuriates senators,” Page 1, yesterday). The memorandum suggests that it will be best to wait to trigger this strategy until it is further into President Bush’s 2004 campaign.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Mr. Rockefeller, angrily charges that the memorandum was stolen by the Republicans out of a trash can or electronically, but he also maintains that the whole matter is “minuscule” and that he will continue to work in harmony with the committee chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, a fact that Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican, avers is critical if there is to be confidence in the Senate Intelligence Committee by the American public.

However, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Democrats’ hatchet man in the Senate, claimed the memo wasn’t shared with him. He sent a piece published in the London Telegraph in which Mr. Durbin concurred with the strategy in the memo. When Mr. Roberts challenged him on the Senate floor Wednesday to deny the threat, Mr. Durbin — in his usual dramatic manner — yelled back, “I stand by every word of it.”

Can Mr. Roberts and Mr. Rockefeller get Mr. Durbin and their intelligence team back on track working together for the interest of the country? Or is it hasta la vista for the formerly proud, prestigious Senate Intelligence Committee to regain its nonpartisanship?

W. HUSTON SMITH

Palm Springs, Calif.

A deer travesty

As one of those PETA people who weep for the animals, may I say there is nothing amusing about deer families left to suffer because some people, such as your columnist, are so selfish that they refuse to support programs to reduce deer populations humanely, even when these animals, through no fault of their own, have been forced into “civilization” because their own land, water access and food sources have been bulldozed (“Time to end playing bumper cars with Bambi,” Metropolitan, Oct. 30).

When I lived near White Flint mall, I watched as high-rises went up, the new Metro stop went in and new roads were built. I saw the deer family that lived in the woods behind the Metro lose its hidden trail down to the creek, its only real water source, and then lose first part, and then all, of the woods that sheltered the family. The buck was the first to be hit by traffic as he tried to cross the road at night, presumably trying to find food. The mother was next. The fawns, two of them, used to stand near the metal fence and watch the passengers come up from the train tracks and into the new parking lot. Building more shopping malls and restaurants is a human prerogative, but when they go up, native wildlife doesn’t stand a chance. Raccoons, beavers, opossums and deer all perish, and badly. If your writer thinks that’s something to whoop it up about, may I suggest a brain scan? Researchers have reported recently that some people who cannot feel empathy are suffering from underdevelopment of the part of their brains that allows one to relate to others — a frightening prospect, and not only for deer.

INGRID E. NEWKIRK

President

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Norfolk


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