- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 18, 2004

Israel clear of intent in Liberty incident

Your article about the State Department’s recent conference on the USS Liberty incident was highly misleading (“Israel blamed for USS Liberty attack,” World, Tuesday).

The headline suggests that Israel attacked the Liberty knowing it was a U.S. vessel, which contradicts the U.S. government’s position, that Israel, at war with its Arab neighbors, believed the ship to be Egyptian. New documents released during the conference support this view, as your article itself suggests.

The claim that there has never been a “full-fledged” investigation into the incident is wrong. The U.S. Navy, CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Security Agency, among others, all have released reports finding no evidence that Israel attacked the Liberty knowing it was an American vessel.

ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN

National director

Anti-Defamation League

New York

Color codes won’t help with barn door open

It is a no-brainer that a more specific threat level alert is better than a general warning (“Faster and smarter responses,” Editorial, Sunday). But if this is our primary defense in preventing another September 11, Americans better stock up on extra blood pressure medicine.

How can Americans take our government’s defense of the homeland seriously when the White House is pushing for amnesty for illegal immigrants and backdoor open-borders? Raising the threat level after leaving the bad guys in our country to set up shop in non-assimilated immigrant communities is like the captain of an airliner warning his passengers at 30,000 feet that six heavily armed terrorists are onboard as the panicky flight attendants pass out extra plastic knives.

The White House needs to first use the National Guard to close the country’s barn door and then “aggressively” find and arrest the sleeper cell terrorists in our country. Only then will Americans sleep soundly at night without worrying about another September 11 nightmare.

LOU VENTICINQUE

Jamison, Pa.

Adults deserve access to adoption records

You eulogized Bill Pierce for making adoption easier for adoptive parents (“Bill Pierce, rest in peace,” Editorials, Wednesday), but it is also worth pointing out that for the past several decades, much of his work was devoted to keeping adoption records sealed and that, to that end, he was a tireless fighter. He took his battle state to state, wherever it appeared that the legislature might open the records to adult adoptees. He was largely successful, as the records are open in just six states. He continued his campaign, to the relief of the thousands of adoptive parents for whom he spoke, even in the face of mounting evidence that adoptees wish to have those records open.

A recently released national survey, in fact, found that an overwhelming majority of Americans (84 percent, according to FindLaw, which did the survey) believe people adopted as children should be granted full access to their adoption and birth records when they reach adulthood.

For many of the millions of adoptees who are searching, and their birth parents, Mr. Pierce’s death signifies the beginning of the end of the era of secret, closed adoptions.

LORRAINE DUSKY

Sag Harbor, N.Y.

Rule of law in Romania

I read with great interest Wednesday’s Commentary column by Arnaud de Borchgrave, “Red past in Romania’s present.” Unfortunately, the commentary misstated the facts about Romania today, particularly about the case of Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa.

On June 7, 1999, in a public session, the Supreme Court of Justice of Romania reviewed the two sentences pronounced in 1978 against Mr. Pacepa, “acquitting the defendant from the charges, treason by helping foreign powers in order to carry on unfriendly actions against the state security, communicating top secret data to foreign power agents, refusal for returning in the country and defection.” The first and the last charge were punishable by the death penalty.

In the same session, the court decided “to remove the complementary punishments regarding the actions taken at the time concerning the confiscation of all his property and the deprivation of his military rank.” This public decision of the court reflects the current status of Mr. Pacepa with the Romanian authorities.

Romania has made substantial progress in overcoming the legacy of communist rule. The United States and NATO have recognized the comprehensive reforms implemented in our security services and welcome our extensive cooperation in the war on terror. There are no Romanian “agents” in the United States looking for Mr. Pacepa or anyone else. There are, however, Romanian soldiers standing in harm’s way, shoulder to shoulder with Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq.

SORIN DUCARU

Ambassador

Embassy of Romania

Washington

Spending on space is scarcely a waste

After decades of the space program floundering without a vision, President Bush’s proposal to establish manned colonies on the moon and eventually to proceed to Mars (“‘Take the next step,’” Editorial, Thursday) gives NASA a worthy and meaningful purpose. When we landed on the moon more than three decades ago, never to return, it was like Columbus discovering America, with nobody returning afterward.

The post-Apollo space program basically was using an expensive shuttle based on 1970s technology to perform missions and loft experiments that could have been done largely by unmanned spacecraft. Seven exceptional human beings died in the Columbia tragedy in a $1.8 billion spacecraft whose mission was to carry ants, spiders, bees, scummy Central Park pond water, a magnetized New York City MetroCard and other things into orbit for “space experiments” by schoolchildren.

Those worrying about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration stealing money from school lunches or a favorite federal program and adding to the deficit need not be concerned. Out of a $2 trillion budget for fiscal year 2004, human resources programs will get an astounding 34 percent. NASA’s budget has represented less than 1 percent of the total budget each year since 1977 and probably won’t get much above that even with the new proposal.

The federal government wastes more money each fiscal year than the space program spends, and, unlike other federal programs, the space program has more than paid for itself in the development of cutting-edge technology and the expansion of human knowledge. When NASA does cutting-edge work, new products are devised, and people, Americans, are put to work producing them.

The Wright brothers had no idea what the impact of the aircraft they tinkered together in a bicycle shop would be or where it would lead. We don’t know what a mission to the moon or Mars will mean to our future, but it undoubtedly will lead to knowledge more important than how zero gravity affects spiders spinning webs.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago

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