- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2004

New navigation system essential for pilots

According to Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta, the United States will need to triple the capacity of its air traffic control (ATC) system over the next 20 years (“Bush eyes expanding aviation capacity,” Business, Jan. 28). We agree.

On September 11, air traffic controllers helped clear the skies of some 4,500 aircraft within four hours. It may be of interest that a 1971 report (“Improving the Nation’s Air Traffic Control System”) of the President’s Science Advisory Committee during the administration of Richard Nixon proposed a system sized for 50,000 aircraft aloft at any time.

The favored system used Earth satellites for the three essential functions of navigation, communication and independent monitoring of position.

In particular, the committee proposed what since has become the global positioning system (GPS) for navigation and a similar approach to precision position location so that the ATC system would have the second-by-second position of each aircraft to an accuracy of about 100 feet. Rather than voice radio communication to one controller after another, messages would travel by satellite data link, although voice via satellite would be available in an emergency.

Now that GPS is ubiquitous — and high-precision bombs by the thousands strike their targets with the aid of GPS and a tiny, inexpensive inertial navigation package — it is time to take the plunge to a new ATC system that would coexist for a few years with the old. It would supply blind and automatic landing capability, replace emergency-locator beacons and greatly increase the capacity of the airspace worldwide. It would lower the cost of providing and using ATC services. Protection against radio interference with GPS in the crucial flight portions near airports would be provided by localGPStransmitters (pseudolites) providing vastly greater signal strength than is available from the satellites 7,000 miles away.

The all-satellite system would enable a “free flight” regime, in which pilots would declare the most desirable route and then pursue it conflict-free. We hope the research, engineering and development advisory committee created by Mr. Mineta will open the way to this system or to one of comparable capability and economy.


Council on Foreign Relations

New York

Painful memories

Regarding Suzanne Fields’ column “Amnesia marks a grim anniversary” (Op-Ed, Monday): I studied the Holocaust in great detail as a teen-ager. I brought clinical attention to the analysis as I tried to understand what I ultimately determined was incomprehensible. One cannot explain in a rational manner such a monstrous enterprise as “the Final Solution.”

Yes, the charge of deicide, which has lingered around the Jews for almost 2,000 years and will be stoked yet again with the pending release of Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ,” may play a role, but surely even conservative Christians, devotees of the original Latin Mass, cannot acquiesce in the slaughter of Jewish innocents to this day. We can write off the Muslim fanatics as simply nuts, but that does not diminish the fear induced by their fatwas. The resurgence of European anti-Semitism is easily explained if one assumes that Europeans are assuaging guilt induced by their complicity in the Holocaust by equating Israel (Jews) with Nazi Germany, as irrational an analogy as ever was conjured.

We will never eradicate anti-Semitism or, for that matter, many of the other biases that infect our minds, for hating the “other” serves a very basic human need. The best we can do is educate our people and combat the amnesia Mrs. Fields writes about.


CincinnatiSenate Bill 48, Sen. Henry L. Marsh III’s gun purchaser registration scheme (“Lawmakers seek to close loophole in gun sales,” Metropolitan, Monday), just as I am deeply disappointed in Mr. Marsh for allowing himself to be drawn into this attack on individual rights.

The Henry Marsh I knew 40 years ago in the civil rights movement was always alert to the incursions of the lily-white Marxists trying to substitute their own agenda for things that were really important. They already have disqualified nearly a third of adult black males from gun ownership, and now they want another bite.

This bill is not about reducing crime or violence. Just look at the facts: 1) U.S. Department of Justice figures show that less than 1 percent of all gun crimes are committed with a gun obtained from a gun show; 2) the vast majority of gun sales at shows are by federal firearms licensees who already are required to follow the same procedures that apply to showroom sales; 3) federal firearms law and regulations define who is or is not a “dealer,” and all firearms dealers must have a federal firearms license or face severe criminal penalties. There is no such thing as an “unlicensed gun dealer”; the proper term for such a person is “criminal,” and criminals are not permitted to operate at gun shows; 4) the actual residual activity that occurs at gun shows (a few percent of transactions) is the perfectly legal sale of a personal or family firearm by one private individual to another private individual.

If you actually attended a gun show, you would find many blacks, many retired persons on fixed incomes, Second Amendment Sisters and sometimes a Pink Pistol or two. You would find that relatively few of the vendors are gun dealers — many are selling rare spare parts or unusual ammunition, bulk powder and cleaning supplies, beautiful handmade knives and jewelry, even beef jerky. Among the customers, you won’t find criminals of either the white-collar or blue-collar variety — just a lot of honest citizens, often of limited means, looking for bargains or selling something they no longer need.

What problem does SB48 purport to solve? To make it more difficult for blacks, old people, women and homosexuals to find affordable firearms to defend themselves? To force them all to accept the option of “dial 911 and die”? Private sales are not a loophole, except in the lexicon of the lily-white Marxists. Both federal and state regulations are limited to true commerce — they stop well short of attacking private property and the individual’s right to manage his property. That is where the line should remain. Anything else leads to de facto government registration of all gun owners (and the Marxist crowd knows it).


Vienna Mr. Gaffney’s column makes it clear that his interest in the question is to retroactively use the answer as justification for our actions in Iraq.

That question and its answer may be interesting, but only from a political point of view.

What the country needs now is to determine how to minimize the possibility of similar intelligence failures in the future. The basic mission of the commission already has serious political implications. In fact, it’s a political minefield. The last thing we need is to saddle the commission with purely political questions that have little bearing on preventing intelligence failures in future pre-emptive actions.

We need to keep the focus of the commission narrow. Getting this right is too important to the success of our future battles against terrorists and their sponsors to risk getting sidetracked by irrelevant political questions.


Bowie, Md.

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