- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2004

Wiser to aim at terrorism

I enjoyed Peter Huessy’s perspective on the need for strategic missile defense (“Cooking the books,” Op-Ed, May 24).

Though I agree in principle with Mr. Huessy that a functional and effective missile-defense system is desirable, I believe that any system we develop and deploy will provide us with only a false sense of national security. This, at a cost exceeding $50 billion over the next five years for the limited system now under development, according to the General Accounting Office. Other researchers predict that the cost of a complete missile-defense system could total $1 trillion or more over the next 10 years.

In a recent letter to President Bush, 31 former government officials described the system we are designing for deployment later this year as a “sham.” Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld himself has conceded that missile-defense technology is unproven and that the system is experimental. Such a system, even if it did work, would be unable to take out all, or even a significant number, of the missiles launched as part of a large-scale attack. Any nation suicidal enough to initiate a ballistic-missile attack against us would easily be able to overcome our missile defense by launching a few extra decoys. To date, the missile-defense system under development has been used only in test environments simulating a limited number of decoys. Even there, its success rate is not reassuring — less than 90 percent, according to Pentagon statistics (or closer to 50 percent, according to data produced by independent research groups).

Furthermore, even if the missile-defense system now under development works as designed, it would be rendered useless by a newer generation of ballistic missiles. For example, Russian authorities earlier this year announced plans to develop maneuverable re-entry vehicles that would evade a missile-defense system. Given the inherent complexities of missile defense, it is likely that missile and warhead delivery systems will always remain many steps ahead of any missile-defense system we implement.

Moreover, Mr. Huessy overlooks the chief threat now facing the United States: terrorism. Not even the most advanced missile-defense system would protect us from a terrorist’s smuggled weapon. Mr. Huessy discusses the dangers posed by long-range-missile-equipped nations such as Iran and North Korea. But this misses the point. Even North Korea is very unlikely to launch a missile attack against us, knowing that it could expect swift and massive retaliation. Terrorists with no readily identifiable return address, on the other hand, will still be able to launch attacks against us with near impunity, missile-defense system or not.

We would be much better served by dedicating our resources toward fighting terrorism rather than on ineffectual missile-defense systems.

GABE MEYER

Washington

Dorothy would not be at home in Dulles area

Obviously, Thom Loverro doesn’t cross the Potomac River very often (“N. Va. bid alive, if not well,” Sports, May 21). In his column criticizing the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority for pursuing a baseball stadium near Washington Dulles International Airport, he equates the site with Kansas.

Tysons Corner has more office space than Miami, and Loudoun County, where the stadium might be located, is one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States. If the Dulles area is such a wasteland, why did Independence Air recently announce that it is investing billions in an airline based there? Instead of belittling Bill Collins and his decade-long efforts to get us a major-league franchise, Mr. Loverro should get behind the only viable chance we have to get a team in the metropolitan area.

LELAND J. WHITE

Arlington

Today is another memorial day

People are all excited that our nation is paying tribute to the World War II veterans (“WWII dedication security tight,” Page 1, Saturday). It is great to see the opportunities being given the veterans to tell their story. Wouldn’t it be great if our current military men and women were given, daily, the same opportunity and recognition for their dedicated service to our great country?

I have wondered why only a small percentage of those who have served and are serving in Iraq are being heard today. The news media has given attention to those few who were involved in the Abu Ghraib prisoner mistreatment in Iraq. Why not recognize, daily, in stories and pictures the actions of the other 99.8 percent of our wonderful military men and women who put their life on the line for our freedom and the freedom of others? Our military men and women are making sacrifices and are making a difference in the lives of the majority of the population of the countries in which they are stationed.

Why make them wait 60 years to tell their stories? Let’s do daily news stories on the daily sacrifices for freedom. Give them a chance to express what they are doing and how they are bringing honor to our great nation.

RETIRED CMDR. JAMES H. BAKER

Alexandria

Media pushing McCain; mainstream Democrats are not

Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois attempted to make Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, appear foolish the other day (“Congressional strategy,” Editorial, May 24). He succeeded.

I, like so many Democrats, at one time held a certain amount of respect for Mr. McCain. This is declining fast. Although the media keeps pushing for Mr. McCain to be on Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s ticket as vice president, many Democratic voters are not interested.

Mr. McCain appears to be taking so much political abuse from the party he so defends, and he never seems to punch back.

Our country is facing one of the most turbulent times in our history and is in need of strong leadership. If John McCain is intimidated by the Republican Party, what will he do face to face with Osama bin Laden?

It is time he demands respect from the party he so hails as the greatest. Maybe he should take notes from the Log Cabin Republicans.

PATTY JUSTEN

Plano, Texas

Catch up to truth about Heinz

It is unfortunate that an allegation once confined to your editorial page as opinion — and completely discounted by mainstream news organizations — now moves to your news columns as fact in Tuesday’s article, “Survivor groups hit for use of 9/11.” Your assertion that the Heinz Endowments and Teresa Heinz Kerry, who chairs one of its boards, is “linked, indirectly,” to September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows because they both contract with the nonprofit management organization the Tides Center for separate purposes is a complete distortion of the truth.

The Tides Center provides management and administrative services for short-term and start-up nonprofit activities. Foundations from all across the country — many, such as the endowments, with strong centrist agendas — use this service to support a range of projects. It is no more accurate to suggest that the endowments support every one of these projects than it is to suggest that, because federal government agencies have used Tides for the same purposes as foundations, it then follows that the Bush administration should be “indirectly linked” to groups such as Peaceful Tomorrows.

Through Tides, we have supported programs to test the career readiness of area high school students, protect Pittsburgh’s environment and retain young people in our region — hardly an extremist agenda. Any reading of the grant material connected to these groups, easily accessible on our Web site, in our public filings and in our annual reports, shows that they are all nonprofit entities barred from partisan political activity.

MAXWELL KING

President

Heinz Endowments

Pittsburgh

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