- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 28, 2004

What honor?

As a Vietnam veteran, I am incensed that former Sen. Max Cleland would attempt to stifle my free speech and right to condemn Sen. John Kerry for calling me a murderer, rapist and monster before Congress and, in so doing, deprive me of my earned respect and dignity (“Veterans dispatched with dueling letters,” Page 1, Thursday).

Where is the honor in shilling for an elitist who used military regulations to his own advantage while others honestly fought for their buddies and for a better life for the Vietnamese? Doesn’t Mr. Cleland have a special duty to veterans at large who were smeared by Mr. Kerry? How patriotic was it for Mr. Kerry’s group to fly the flag upside down, as it appears in his book, “The New Soldier”? If Mr. Kerry is a true patriot, as Mr. Cleland believes, why did he vote to disarm America during 19 years in the Senate?

We veterans, including the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth, have endured more than 30 years of disgraceful insults by leftists. Mr. Kerry has arrogantly tried to use his war record to appeal to most Americans, assuming we are too naive or uninformed to examine his anti-war period in the 1970s or his record of supporting the New Left anti-defense agenda in the Senate.

We haven’t forgotten being smeared, slimed and left behind. When Mr. Kerry reports for duty, we say, “Dismissed.”

LT. COL. WILLIAM FIELDER

Army, retired

Peachtree City, Ga.

‘The truth should prevail

The Op-Ed by Dr. Martin L. Fackler (“‘Trying to acquire Purple Hearts,’” Thursday) was a breath of fresh air.

There was probably nobody more experienced in combat surgery during Vietnam than Dr. Fackler. I was stationed with and did many surgical cases with Dr. Fackler during the 1970s.

Aside from his expertise in combat surgery, Dr. Fackler is a world-renowned expert in ballistics and forensic medicine. He designs guns and surgical instruments, testifies in legal cases around the world on gunshot wounds, and is frequently published in peer-reviewed surgery journals.

Dr. Fackler retired from the military and became a professor of surgery at the University of Florida. Like his knowledge of war wounds and his expertise in ballistics, his desire for truth is stellar.

There is reason to consider as noncredible some of the Vietnam awards and some of the embellishments Sen. John Kerry says to the media cameras. The voters need to know the truth, and the truth should prevail. Dr. Fackler has the wisdom and the experience to discuss the awards in question.

DR. ARTHUR C. WITTICH

Lorton

It’s been tried before

Your editorial “Kerry’s defense(less) posture” (Thursday) asserts, “Make no mistake: The initial deployment of that missile interceptor, which soon will be followed by others in Alaska and at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California during the first phase of a planned robust missile-defense system, represents a historic moment in military affairs.” Well, not exactly, if by “historic,” you mean unprecedented.

In fact, the United States previously deployed a ballistic-missile-defense system, albeit briefly. On Oct. 1, 1975, the Army declared operational the Safeguard system. Based at Nekoma, N.D., Safeguard, constructed at a cost of more than $23 billion (in today’s dollars), employed electronic radars and some 100 high-speed nuclear-tipped interceptor missiles to track and destroy incoming Soviet nuclear warheads. Safeguard’s mission was not to protect not people or cities, a highly demanding task requiring extreme accuracy and reliability, but only a small portion of the land-based Minuteman missile force.

Yet less than four months later, in January 1976, Safeguard was shut down by order of Congress, which, noting the Army’s own plans to end it that July, found the program to be incapable of fulfilling its intended mission and too expensive to maintain given the meager benefits it provided. Interestingly, it was Donald H. Rumsfeld, in his first tour of duty as secretary of defense, who presided over Safeguard’s demise.

Regrettably, unlike Sen. John Kerry neither he nor the majority of members of the current Congress seem to have learned anything from that costly experience, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for yet another technologically dubious, politically driven multibillion-dollar missile defense scheme.

STEPHEN I. SCHWARTZ

Publisher and executive director

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Chicago

A whale of a tale

Gene Mueller spins quite a fish tale with his latest column, “Menhaden stock may not be low” (Sports, Wednesday). His disparagement of hardworking American commercial fishermen as “selfish” aside, Mr. Mueller does a disservice to his readers by providing only half of the story regarding the health and relationship between Atlantic menhaden and striped bass populations in the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1990, fishery regulators imposed strict conservation measures on striped bass to help their numbers rebound. By 1995, populations of stripers were officially declared “fully recovered.”

Since that time, however, regulators have allowed striped bass populations to continue to grow — reaching all-time historical highs. Stripers are now so abundant that fishermen frequently report catching in excess of 50 of these prized game fish a day.

However, Mr. Mueller fails to inform readers of the downside of the artificially inflated striper population in the Bay: the enormous pressure on their prey species, including anchovy, spot and commercially valuable species such as blue crab and menhaden.

Scientific data suggests that striped bass stocks may be figuratively eating themselves out of house and home.

As early as 1998, marine scientists in Maryland reported that striped bass populations may have exceeded their natural carrying capacity within the Chesapeake Bay. In other words, the problem may not be that we have too few menhaden in our Bay waters, but that we simply have too many striped bass.

On the other hand, as Mr. Mueller divulged, scientists have determined that menhaden populations are not overfished and that overfishing is not occurring. Therefore, it is not surprising that some fanatic sport anglers such as Mr. Mueller are frustrated that they may not scapegoat “selfish” commercial menhaden fishermen as the source of any striped bass problems.

Fortunately, with the potential advent of new multispecies “ecosystem” approaches to regulate Bay fisheries, marine scientists and fishery regulators may gain additional insight into the intricate relationship between predator and prey in the water.

This science-based approach will hopefully foster a sustainable balance of species within the Bay ecosystem. Hopefully, Mr. Mueller’s future fishing columns will provide a more balanced approach for Times readers, as well.

NIELS MOORE

Director

Menhaden Resource Council

Arlington


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