- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 25, 2004

Flying the friendly skies?

I am responding to Audrey Hudson’s article “Scouting jetliners for new attacks” (Page 1, Thursday). We are shocked by this article. It only reflects paranoia verging on the point of hysterics. The woman mentioned most prominently in this article, Annie Jacobsen, is an advocate of ethnic profiling who survived a horrendous ordeal: a flight with 14 harmless Syrian musicians.

After this ordeal, and despite the fact that she reached her destination safe and sound, she “spread 3,000 bigoted and paranoid words across the Internet,” as Salon.com put it.

Your reporter failed to mention that the only “crimes” these professional musicians were accused of committing were going to the lavatory, eating McDonald’s food and talking to one another.

The fact that they have performed in the past six months in places such as the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center and the Juilliard School did not prevent Mrs. Jacobsen from saying, “[C]ouldn’t 14 terrorists learn to play instruments?”

The reporter for The Washington Times should have informed her readers that the whole story was a case of a group of talented musicians going to Los Angeles to play music, as simple as that.


Ambassador of Syria


On minorities, health care and Alzheimer’s

Your Thursday article “Minorities multiply risk of Alzheimer’s” (Nation) relates sobering news with dramatic implications for health-care costs and, more important, for the ability of minority elders to live independently as long as possible.

Blacks, Hispanics and other minority elders historically have not entered nursing homes as they have aged. With increased life expectancy and a growing burden of cognitive impairment, many more minority elders are spending their final years in a nursing home. In the past two decades alone, the black nursing home population has increased from 6 percent to 11 percent. Preliminary research suggests that more than 20 percent of black elders enter nursing homes with a primary admission diagnosis of senility. Many caregivers in minority communities struggle especially hard with the notion of putting their loved ones in a home. However, when an aged family member shows symptoms of advanced dementia such as wandering away from home, it is almost impossible for a working person to provide adequate care.

Even if medications for dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) provide just a six-month delay in the onset or progression of the disease, this means those patients are less likely to be institutionalized prematurely. Most elders want to live independently as long as possible.

Medicaid spends more than $18 billion on residential dementia care. We cannot reduce expenditures. We can slow the increase in spending on residential dementia care, though. In doing so, public-health efforts can and should focus on increased financing for affordable adult-day-care centers and informal care at home provided by visiting nurses, dietitians and other service providers who may influence and promote preventive measures.

These are the most cost-effective measures for improving care to minority elders — indeed, to all elders.


New York

Reorganizing intelligence

The movement to create a new position of national intelligence czar seems to be gaining momentum (“Report lists three main changes,” Nation, Thursday). However, the acting director of central intelligence, John McLaughlin, thinks the position will lead to the creation of too much additional bureaucracy. I believe the line and staff functions that would directly support the new czar already exist.

The Intelligence Community Staff, in existence for many years, could provide the needed planning, coordination and resource-management support for the czar instead of to the director of central intelligence. The staff could be re-engineered and reinforced as required but should not require many more employees.

The inspectors general of the intelligence agencies could be merged into a communitywide inspectorate under the czar. This might lead to a small reduction in the number of people required.

The Board of National Estimates would simply move up a notch to support the czar. This could be supplemented with special panels and working groups to deal with special problems. Additional manpower would be negligible.

The immediate secretariat of the czar need not exceed more than a couple dozen staff specialists, if that. Current staff supporting the director of central intelligence, as opposed to the Central Intelligence Agency, would simply move over to the office of the czar.

The net addition of personnel, if the office of the national intelligence czar is created, should be negligible and eminently affordable. My concern is with the person appointed to that post. I have serious doubts that a person with the requisite attributes even exists. The choice must be made very carefully, and it must be made with America’s interests first. Otherwise, we all could be in very serious trouble in the not-too-distant future.


Former CIA intelligence officer

Fernandina Beach, Fla.

A body without a soul

In testimony before Congress on July 21, Federal ReserveChairmanAlan Greenspan said, “I am for lower taxes and lower spending and lower deficits.” Hallelujah.

With this simple, short, succinct statement, Mr. Greenspan has perfectly enunciated the credo of the Republican Party.

Why, then, does my Republican Party not get it? Why do we have a slavish devotion only to lower taxes, which we will be called upon to repay when the current era of profligate spending catches up with us?

From the big-government “spender in chief,” President Bush, down through the Republican ranks, unconscionable expenditures and high deficit levels are the order of the day.

The vast majority of those in Congress revere and respect Mr. Greenspan as the nation’s long-term financial savior. Why do they not take his words to heart?


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

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