- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2004

No neutrality on terror

James Zirin’s charge that Switzerland has been sluggish in the past in tracking down terrorists is unfounded (“The Arabs and the cuckoo clock,” Commentary, Jan. 25). In fact, the contrary is true: The arrests made by Swiss authorities of eight foreign terrorist suspects is only the latest example of Switzerland’s long history of counterterrorism enforcement. Repeated assessments by the U.S. administration and U.S. law enforcement officials confirm this as well.

After the attacks of September 11, Switzerland acted without delay. The Swiss attorney general’s office started its own criminal investigation and created a special terrorism task force, which immediately began to cooperate with its counterparts in the United States and other countries. In fact, Switzerland was the first nation to sign a law enforcement arrangement with the United States, under which Swiss and American federal agents are assigned to each country’s terrorism task forces. Among other cases, Swiss authorities were highly supportive in the Chicago arrest of terror suspect Jose Padilla, and today, Switzerland, after the United States, leads the world in the amount of suspected terrorist funds it has identified and frozen.

On September 11, Switzerland — unlike many other countries — already had a legal framework and instruments in place to react in a quick and efficient way to such appalling crimes. As a result, the Swiss were able to immediately put into effect the U.N. sanctions concerning al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

Senior U.S. officials have repeatedly praised Switzerland’s cooperation and role as an international model in the global fight against terrorism. It is widely recognized and proved that neither Swiss neutrality nor bank customers’ privacy laws are any hindrance in the international fight against terror. Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly noted on June 12, 2002, that the world should take note of the responsible way the Swiss have acted and that the myth of banking secrecy finally has been disproved. As far as the counterterrorism cooperation between our two countries is concerned, Mr. Ashcroft’s statement on that day speaks for itself: “America is a safer country because Switzerland cooperates closely with it.”




Embassy of Switzerland


Dean’s dialogue

Donald Lambro is the one troubled by misstatements, not Howard Dean (“Apprentices on the hustings,” Commentary, Thursday). What Mr. Lambro calls a “maniacal rant” was nothing of the sort. Instead, Mr. Dean was revving up a roomful of passionate supporters, as a reasoned view of the event would reveal. He was smiling afterward, obviously in full control of himself. This was a “maniacal rant”? No, this was a presidential candidate who has passion and a pulse. I shudder to think what would happen to Mr. Lambro and his kind if they wandered anywhere near a football locker room at halftime.

Perhaps The Washington Times needs to reconsider Mr. Lambro’s dual role. Accuracy and reasonable judgment should be required on both the news and Commentary pages, in any case.



On detention

In “The law and war: U.S. right to detain combatants” (Op-Ed, Tuesday), Lee A. Casey and David B. Rivkin Jr. share some interesting legal considerations regarding the controversial detainments of enemy combatants in the war against terrorism. However, in justifying these detainments, they downplay some frightening implications of the “enemy combatant” designation.

As noted in the article, enemy combatants do not enjoy the rights and privileges guaranteed to prisoners of war by the Geneva Conventions — and this is precisely the problem.

The United States has no valid reason to treat these detainees any less humanely than we would expect our own citizens to be treated by any enemy that might capture them. The United States has an obligation under international humanitarian law to end the legal limbo of these detainees, lest it set a very dangerous precedent for the rest of the world.


Norristown, Pa.

Legal malpractice

In the article “Bush seeks to contain ‘junk’ medical lawsuits” (Nation, Tuesday), the president notes that the medical malpractice crisis is “a national problem that requires a national solution.” Indeed, this is correct, and we support federal efforts to rein in the malpractice lawsuit frenzy.

However, as we need federal reforms, we also need complementary state reforms to protect patients and providers from ruinous lawsuits. In Pennsylvania and other states, what’s needed is a constitutional amendment to cap lawsuit awards for noneconomic damages. After all the talk, after all the studies and after all the continuing chaos, this is the only workable means of protecting seniors’ access to quality health care.

Moreover, besides the fact that seniors’ access to quality long-term care is placed more at risk every day, taxpayers across the nation are unwillingly being forced to subsidize growing lawsuit costs. Any reasonable person will agree this is untenable and unsustainable — and those of us who will be crisscrossing our states with our reform message throughout 2004 must let taxpayers know they, too, are being taken for a ride.


President and chief executive

Pennsylvania Health Care Association


Mummy on Martha

Steven Mummy of San Diego (“Martha, Martha, Martha,” Letters, Thursday) takes issue with Alan Reynolds’ Commentary column about Martha Stewart’s slightly iffy prosecution by the federal government (“A fair trial for Martha?” Jan. 18). I’ll leave the factual decision of the case up to the jury, but I will take issue with Mr. Mummy’s rabid anti-corporate rant. He taints Mrs. Stewart with the ignorant generality, “Misleading common investors and taking care of your well-heeled friends is the style of the day among the circle of the elite wealth builders in America.”

ImClone was engaged in the search for a cancer cure. There has been no claim that it was a fraud, that it was set up to defraud investors. Its founders and initial investors spent a fortune in belief, time, energy, hope, work and, yes, money in an impossible pursuit on which the government has spent literally hundreds of billions of dollars over the past several decades with little or no success.

When it looked as if success was in sight and funding was needed to see the product through the long Food and Drug Administration process, stock was sold to the public. Public stockholders could expect a windfall for their investment if the drug was approved and virtually nothing if it was a failure. There is nothing to distinguish between the risk of ImClone insiders and those whom Mr. Mummy calls “common investors.” You put your money on the table no matter who rolls the wheel.

No one will disagree with the criminality of using insider information to dump stock on an unsuspecting public, and we have laws and juries that can deal with that. To tarnish the corporations that provide us with our prosperity and that undertake tremendous risks to improve the health that prosperity produces as being controlled by “the circle of elite wealth builders in America” displays not only an ignorance of our laws but ignorance of America.



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