- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2004

Get smart about intelligence

Congratulations on an excellent editorial regarding the need for reform of the CIA (“Reforming the CIA,” Thursday).

The Washington Post later also ran an editorial on the subject of the poor quality of our intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. The Post, however, failed to make any note of the gutting and virtual destruction of the agency and its assets in the wake of the Church Committee report and the actions of President Carter and his director of central intelligence, Adm. Stansfield Turner.

Your editorial was built largely around this information and also included an appropriate knock on political correctness and “diversity” programs within the CIA. Just as war is too important to be entrusted solely to generals, so intelligence is too important to be subject to the considerations of political correctness and “fair play” that loom so large in our intelligence activities. Our lack of strong, on-the-ground assets overseas is directly traceable to the Carter years. Rebuilding what was lost as a result of those years will take longer than the 10 years you suggest. Still, the time to make changes is now.



The “Reforming the CIA” editorial could not have been better said or more timely. Yet, while you mention the Church Committee and Pike Report, you must understand that few Americans really appreciate how congressional actions created the problems all our intelligence services face today. For Democratic senators and representatives to try to blame the present administration for the intelligence failures that were primarily created by a Democrat-run Congress created, should be intolerable to everyone. Our elected officials who were there when all of these mistakes were put in place or who allowed them to continue must accept responsibility for the recent intelligence failures and stop trying to pass the blame to the present administration.

With an important election coming, now is the time to educate the people, by papers like The Washington Times doing in-depth reporting or updates. This way America can begin to understand who and what caused the intelligence crisis our country is facing.

We are all in this together. We are at war with a very evil group of people quite willing to do whatever it takes to defeat us. We cannot defeat such an enemy by being politically correct. Indeed, our enemies believe that they can defeat us because we are dumb enough to strive for the stupidity of political correctness.


Tallahassee, Fla.

Artistic fund raising

President Bush is wrong in proposing to increase the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts (“The bloated NEA,” Editorials, yesterday). Why?

Because art is a form of expressing ideas, and using taxpayers’ money to promote ideas with which they may disagree is immoral and violates their rights. Such misuse of taxpayers’ money is a violation — not a promotion — of freedom of speech. As Thomas Jefferson explained, “That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”

The Bush administration should stop demonstrating its “commitment to the arts” and focus instead on protecting individual rights. Getting rid of the NEA would be a small step in the right direction.


Ayn Rand Institute

Media research specialist

Irvine, Calif.

Religious rights

In an interview in The Washington Times (“Christianity in the cross hairs,” Culture, Thursday), Pat Robertson asserted that People for the American Way, along with other organizations and groups of Americans he dislikes, are “attempting to take away the religious freedom of Christians.”

This truly is Mr. Robertson’s “big lie,” repeated often through the years, but no closer to the truth today than it was 20 years ago. Organizations working to defend the separation between church and state are, in fact, upholding the freedom of all Americans, including Christians, to worship as they choose.

What Mr. Robertson means by “religious freedom” is the ability of government officials to use the power of their office and taxpayer dollars to promote their own brand of religion. It should violate Americans’ sense of fairness to have public school children coerced into taking part in religious activities that aren’t of their family’s faith or to have judges use their powerful positions and courtrooms to proselytize jurors or people who come before the court.

In a nation of many faiths, keeping the government from taking sides encourages a culture of tolerance. Keeping the promotion of religion where it belongs — in the hands of religious organizations and individuals, not the government — respects individuals’ freedom of conscience as well as our constitutional ideals.



People for the American Way


Piracy of privacy?

This is in response to Audrey Hudson’s recent article outlining Cendant’s proposed plan to merge customer data across its 20 or so divisions (“Firm wants a base for your data,” Nation, Sunday).

With large databases comes large responsibility. Privacy has become a hot political issue, to say the least. How Cendant addresses these privacy challenges will in many ways determine its short-term future.

Cendant has the opportunity to position itself as a champion of privacy, to be perceived as a company that respects its customers. If it can succeed, Cendant will put itself into pretty exclusive company.

Cendant also has the potential to become another corporate victim, the latest company that insists upon operating under the rules of a bygone era — one that hopes its data-collection techniques fly under the radar of public scrutiny. Alas, far too many companies fit this description. Over the past year alone, we have witnessed too many companies fall short in their privacy practices. We also have seen those companies take hits in the form of legal difficulties, brand devaluation and/or lost sales.

With large databases comes large responsibility. Is Cendant up for the challenge? We’ll soon find out.



Chapell & Associates

‘Kindergarten’ rhetoric

I agree completely with Helle Dale’s suggestion that we pursue foreign-policy issues in more depth than just a binary look at right and wrong in politics (“Kindergarten foreign policy,” Op-Ed, Wednesday).

To take it a step further, I also would like to see what is behind the economic, immigration, defense and education issues. There is a direction and a force out there for each issue. What I would like to see is:

• Is there a better direction? If so, what is it?

• If there isn’t a better direction, how do we improve the current one? I don’t want to hear that it is all wrong when it seems to be working.

Chaos is controlled by positive feedback. Once chaos is under control, then we can look at negative feedback parameters. The presidential candidates and the House and the Senate need to realize that the current generation of voters is complexity-savvy, and they need feedback to support the direction. President Bush and his staff have provided that feedback on all of the above-mentioned issues. The Bush-bashing Democrats in the House and Senate and the presidential candidates have provided no such feedback; the voters are tired of finger-pointing “kindergarten” rhetoric.


Peyton, Colo.

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