- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 3, 2004

Real debate on Patriot Act

Nat Hentoff continues his crusade against the Patriot Act in his Monday Op-Ed column, “Can government police itself?” Now he is reminding President Bush that our Constitution contains the Bill of Rights, which protects individual liberties.

He seems to have forgotten that the Bill of Rights makes exceptions for times of public danger and even suspends habeas corpus in times of national crisis.

In cases where prosecutors have sufficient reason to suspect terrorist attacks, they certainly should not be expected to warn terrorists that they would like to search their property and ask them when it would be convenient.

Mr. Hentoff has incessantly attacked Attorney General John Ashcroft as undermining the Constitution when he should be thanking Mr. Ashcroft for working to protect his rights and safety.

Mr. Hentoff claims that the September 11 commission was bipartisan; however, one of the commission members he mentions, Richard Ben-Veniste, was very much politically motivated.

Lots of people were angered by Mr. Ben-Veniste’s obvious rudeness and partisanship in not allowing National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to provide a straightforward answer because it would make the president look good.

Another partisan commission member was Jamie Gorelick. She remained in a total state of denial about her errors that damaged national security, which were outlined in Mr. Ashcroft’s testimony. She should have recused herself and placed an issue of national security above her own political motives, but she did not.

Mr. Hentoff is complaining about Mr. Bush establishing the President’s Board on Safeguarding Americans’ Civil Liberties and says he does not think the board will be nonpartisan because its members are from government.

The fact is that there are people who want to safeguard the American public, and there are others who seem to want to safeguard people who commit crimes against the American public.

People who are law-abiding do not mind if the government searches the property of a person suspected of terrorism.


Virginia Beach

On Iraq, don’t delegate leadership

Your editorial rightly criticized Sen. John Kerry for one of his oft-repeated but dubious refrains: that under his presidency, the war in Iraq will be internationalized (“Substance over style,” Saturday). As amusing as it is to imagine French President Jacques Chirac’s aged frame riding to the rescue on a white horse, this will never happen. Europe lacks both the will and the capability to significantly contribute in Iraq.

The European public will never stand for a costly military intervention in Iraq. Opinion polls on this matter have been demonstrably one-sided. More than 80 percent of French and Germans are opposed to the Iraq war and to any military commitment there. In Spain, a courageous leader was ousted because he stood on principle in the face of more than 90 percent public opposition to the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq.

There is no data to suggest that Europe’s attitude hinges upon President Bush’s presence in the Oval Office. While it is true that Mr. Bush is disliked, it is equally true that opposition to involvement in Iraq stands independently. Mr. Kerry seems to hope that if he repeats his assertion often enough, eventually it will be accepted that Europeans will be swayed by his personal credibility. This is a ludicrous notion.

Even if Mr. Kerry were successful, it still would not make a significant difference. Europe combined spends less than two-thirds on defense what the United States does alone. Moreover, because that spending is divided among dozens of disunited national militaries, Europe’s actual capacity is significantly less than even these low numbers suggest. Europe is all but incapable of operating at the same level as the United States militarily. Even NATO has acknowledged this problem, citing in every summit for the past decade the priority of modernizing European forces. In one recent NATO meeting, it was concluded that for our allies to contribute more than token forces, they would have to be transported upon American planes and supplied with American equipment. Also, their actions would need to be coordinated with American communications systems. These are dubious rescuers indeed.

It is time Mr. Kerry articulated a plan for dealing with Iraq that doesn’t hinge on phantom rescuers. It remains an open question how America will achieve its objectives in Iraq, but one thing is certain: The president of the United States cannot delegate leadership.



Kerry: Good packaging, wrong substance

Who won the presidential debate, President George W. Bush or Sen. John Kerry? Based on packaging and delivery, Mr. Kerry won the debate. But as to substance, Mr. Bush won (“Bush, Kerry focus most of debate on Iraq war, terror issues,” Nation, Friday). Mr. Kerry said he can “do better” than the president in many areas, but he rarely said how. Mr. Bush has had four years to lead the country. The public knows him and where he stands on issues. Mr. Kerry, on the other hand, has a widening credibility gap.

Mr. Kerry made at least one false statement during the debate, and several questionable ones. The false one: Brian Williams of NBC News reported that Mr. Kerry’s assertion that the war has cost $200 billion is inaccurate. The cost of the war so far has been $119 billion, according to the latest estimates.

The questionable ones are more disturbing. The worst was the dangerously ill-conceived remark that the United States should provide Iran’s regime with nuclear fuel to test whether it actually wanted it for peaceful purposes. This kind of failed diplomacy was tried during the Clinton years with North Korea. Is Mr. Kerry really considering a return to this? He did not explain.

Almost as bad, Mr. Kerry said he would end research on bunker-busting nuclear bombs. This is a reckless idea. Why cut research into bombs that can be dropped on caves to kill terrorists and help reduce American casualties?

Disturbing also was Mr. Kerry’s statement that he would submit any future U.S. preemption policies to a “global test.” Does this mean submitting U.S. foreign policy to the control of the United Nations, or bending to the will of countries like France and Germany? Will we simply have more summit meetings on his watch? Mr. Kerry doesn’t explain.

Mr. Kerry has also claimed that Mr. Bush has a coalition of “the bribed and coerced” fighting terrorists in Iraq. He ignored Poland as an ally, causing Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski to take exception to his remarks on Polish television. Mr. Kerry, in effect, boycotted the recent visit to the United States of Iraq Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who delivered a grateful message of hope to a joint meeting of Congress saying, “Like Americans, we Iraqis want freedom.”

Voters, be wary of slick John Kerry.


Forsyth, Mo.

For ballclub name, “Senators” the best

Dick Heller’s article on naming Washington’s baseball team (“No contest: How ‘bout those Nats?,” Friday) makes a good case for calling the club the Nationals. But Nationals is only marginally better than Grays. Both names have plenty of history, but each pales in comparison with Senators.

I’ve seen half a dozen online polls taken in the last two weeks, and all show that the overwhelming choice of Washington fans is Senators. In some polls, fans prefer Senators by 30 to 40 percent more than the next option. For those who point out that Washington has no senators in Congress and should therefore avoid naming a ballclub the Senators, why not use the name to emphasize that very shortcoming? We can still call them Nats for short, just like before.

The only unfortunate association with Senators is the team’s poor winning percentage in its first two incarnations. But this can be overcome if we have owners who will pay to field a better product. Even without a team for 33 years, Washington had a World Series victory more recently than either the Chicago Cubs or the Boston Red Sox.

Like Grays, Nationals lacks pizazz. The only choice is Senators.


Temple Hills

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