- The Washington Times - Friday, August 27, 2004

Noncitizen voting rights

Robert Redding Jr.’s news story regarding reported illegal alien voters in Maryland (“Purging illegal aliens from voter rolls not easy,” Page 1, Monday) mistakenly reports that “the U.S. Constitution allows only American citizens the right to vote.”

While it is true that federal law now prohibits non-U.S. citizens from voting in federal elections, the Constitution permits noncitizen voting, and it was common until the rise of anti-immigrant groups such as the Know-Nothings in the mid-1800s.

Some Maryland localities still permit noncitizens to vote in local elections.

MIKE STOLLENWERK

Alexandria

From one vet to another

After reading the front-page story about former Sen. Bob Dole questioning Sen. John Kerry’s receiving three Purple Hearts in less than four months (apparently without spending any time in the hospital) (“Dole rips Kerry over war medals,” Monday), it is clear that Mr. Dole is not speaking as a partisan Republican but as a veteran — and a decorated one who understands and empathizes with his fellow veterans.

Mr. Kerry, as an East Coast liberal elite from a “blue” state with a relatively small percentage of its population in the military, simply does not understand the minds and hearts of veterans. Most veterans are proud of having defended their country and are bound by that common brotherhood. I have firsthand knowledge: My father is a veteran, and my spouse is a third-generation veteran.

SUSAN SMITH MEA

Arlington

‘Cafeteria Catholics’

Although Julia Duin’s article, “Denial of communion disapproved” (Nation, Wednesday), appears to be based on reliable research, I must disabuse your readers of misconceptions conveyed by the poll of Catholics cited in the story.

Folks polled appear to be “cafeteria Catholics.” In recent months numerous politicians, calling themselves Catholic, have neglected to add the modifier “cafeteria.” For clarification, a cafeteria Catholic is one who picks and chooses what church teachings do and do not apply to them.

Sen. John Kerry, for example, is a cafeteria Catholic, as are Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and her colleagues who sent a letter to Catholic bishops warning them that if they insist on asserting church authority, its popularity will slip, folks won’t go to Mass, etc. But Mrs. Pelosi et al. join Mr. Kerry in calling themselves pro-choice Catholics. This is an oxymoron. Abortion, euphemistically called “choice,” is inimical to Catholic teaching.

Lots of people think abortion is OK. That’s their business, but authentic Catholics follow ancient biblical teachings. Authentic Catholics also believe that Communion is a genuine spiritual and physical union with Christ Himself. This means that preparation for Communion includes sorrow for sins and a penitent with a firm purpose of avoiding future sin.

Aiding and abetting abortion is a serious sin that precludes reception of Communion. Authentic Catholics know that one cannot be in union with Christ while in a state of grave, mortal sin.

Cafeteria Catholic politicians who are pro-choice give scandal to everyone who observes their public defiance of teachings of the church they claim as their own. Yet cafeteria Catholics are all over the place.

Those holding public office have extraordinary responsibility. If they want Communion, they should denounce abortion. If they want abortion, they should remember the millstone.

LYNN BATEMAN

Alexandria

The marriage front

In Paul Greenberg’s “Skirmishes in the marriage war” (Commentary, Thursday), he states: “Now marriage is a nationwide political issue, and concerned voters — not to say enraged ones — are marching to the polls to shore up their marriage laws.”

It is fascinating to watch the debate played out by conservative politicians, voters and columnists. Americans don’t need to march to the polls to shore up marriage laws; they just need to observe their own marriage vows regarding divorce and adultery. There are currently a lot of both, and it is never discussed in this debate.

Apparently, it is easier to pin the blame for the current sorry state of marriage on folks not involved in it in any way than it is to follow one’s own marriage vows.

BEN BERRY

Washington

“Skirmishes in the marriage war” mentions the proposed Arkansas marriage amendment, which would bar recognition of “legal status for unmarried persons which is identical or substantially similar to marriage.”

This would not only affect the legal status of those who wish to enter into civil unions, as Mr. Greenberg mentioned, but would also have a profound affect upon those heterosexual couples who choose to live together, not to mention the status of common-law marriage, which a lot of cohabitations would evolve into.

Before a heterosexual couple makes the decision to live together without benefit of clergy, they should be aware that under such a law as Arkansas proposes, their legal status of common-law marriage (which would follow after a prescribed period) would be illegitimate also.

JACK DORWIN

Livingston, Texas

Another intelligence proposal

The proposal by Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, to break up the CIA raises some interesting questions (“Roberts airs ‘bold’ plan for intelligence,” Page 1, Monday). Is the proposed national intelligence director going to be the chairman of the board or the chief operating officer of the intelligence community?

If he is to be the COO, then how is he going to perform his chairman-of-the-board functions? I think it would be beyond all human capacity to be an effective chairman and COO simultaneously, especially of this diverse and often contentious community.

The national and tactical intelligence communities both lay claim to scarce resources. Since the ‘70s, the national community has received the lion’s share but was supposed to share its highly classified information with tactical users via the Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities (Tencap) program.

Congress needs to look at the interoperability of the two communities.

A major point of contention has been the role of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the national estimates game.

The DIA has acted to support growth in the defense budget, producing some of the most outrageous estimates the human mind can conceive. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Reports seems, after all, to be the most reasonable of the intelligence community members.

I believe the national intelligence director should be the authoritative and credible chairman of the board, not an overwhelmed and conflicted COO. CIA and DIA need to be restructured, not dismantled.

The CIA needs to improve its human intelligence capabilities, and the DIA needs to allocate more of its resources to the tactical community, especially in the area of target assurance. The information channels need to be re-engineered so that rapid data fusion is facilitated. The national estimates business clearly needs improvement.

Ultimately, the key to it all should be the creation of effective national intelligence fusion and indications and warning centers. They should be the controlling entities for the entire intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security.

DON JONES

Fernandina Beach, Fla.


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