- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Surveillance cameras

It was with some strong interest that I read the story “Sites sought for new cameras,” (Metropolitan, Aug. 2).

The surveillance cameras that have lined some of downtown’s heavily traveled streets were installed not too long ago to entrap drivers of vehicles traveling over the posted speed limits. The revenue accruing eventually was set aside to improve existing parking, as well as making pedestrians more safe, etc.

Now, it seems that the District is considering increasing surveillance. The story stated “D.C. officials are evaluating locations to expand the District’s use of surveillance cameras to improve crime fighting and counterterrorism efforts.”

Well, what about tapping into the financial resources of the Department of Homeland Security so we could replace the existing 14 surveillance cameras that on a good day probably catch red-handed at least one or two red-light runners, a drunk or two and maybe even a dozen or so parking meter violators.

In downtown London, well over 10,000 cameras caught the suspected perpetrators of the July 21 attempted bombings in less than 24 to 48 hours. And how long did it take to wrap them in leg irons? Twenty-four to 48 hours. Now that’s fighting crime and terrorism with a shotgun instead of a BB gun.

Sure, the American Civil Liberties Union will scream that this is a violation of civil rights, but at least we will capture the real perpetrators of crime and terrorism, instead of a few red-light runners.

Surrounding cities, counties and towns should all do the same. Fight terrorism starting now, not in the next fiscal year.



The Kelo decision

I read with interest Paul Craig Roberts’ Commentary regarding the recent Supreme Court Kelo decision (“The Kelo calamity,” Sunday). I believe it raises the question: What can be done when the Supreme Court acts unconstitutionally? That the Supreme Court twisted the clear meaning of the Constitution in the Kelo decision is altogether clear. That any legislative body has to pass laws that essentially say the Constitution says what the Framers meant it to say is appalling.

It appears at this point that the only choice is to restrict the jurisdiction of the court and its ability to review laws passed by the legislature and signed by the executive. While in the past this power has been wisely exercised by the court, in recent history the court has assumed the power to pronounce laws from the bench and has become an imperial judiciary. As one observer noted, abortion is not a divisive issue in Britain, not because there are not strong feelings on either side, but because the process was decided by the people’s representatives, not unelected judges.

In the meantime, this highlights the importance of originalists on the court — those who understand that their job is to apply the law and interpret the Constitution, not decide that there is some social wrong that needs to be righted — cannot be overstated. While those on the left are most fond of using the courts to entrench their power, ultimately they, too, will find it a Pyrrhic victory. But once freedom is lost it is very difficult to get it back.


Lewisville, Texas

Too much tolerance

Our congratulations to Robert Seidenberg of Alexandria for his Forum letter (“What are the limits of tolerance?” Sunday).

His letter succinctly outlined the problem facing democracies today. The well-intentioned tolerance of the majority in Western societies will lead eventually either to our own destruction or to a level of intolerance that might lead to the eradication of the terrorism of radical Islam.

The really sad result of our tolerant society is that the victims of terror are soon forgotten as we express concern over the question of “why do they hate us?” We should worry far less about upsetting the silent Muslim majority, and concentrate more on encouraging them to speak out against the atrocities committed in the name of Islam.

Unless they are willing to help us stamp out this terrorist scourge, they will find our society becoming far less tolerant, exactly as Mr. Seidenberg described.



North Potomac

U.S.-Turkey relations

Tulin Daloglu’s Op-Ed column, “Trouble in Turkey” (yesterday) seems a bit unfair. I do believe Washington has not done enough to assuage Turkey’s legitimate anger at the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and its right to defend itself from these foul terrorists. Yet, it is disingenuous to sum up the recent break in U.S.-Turkish relations on this one point.

During the Gulf war, the first President Bush did nothing to assist Turkey economically for the lost trade and other ill effects of the war. On the other hand, this was a global coalition — why, therefore, should it have been the United States’ sole responsibility to do so? Regardless, the past colored the picture this time around. More important, Turkey is governed by an Islamist party made up simply of wolves in sheep’s clothing. That is the real problem here and a key source of the anti-Americanism in play. Turkey did in fact let down the United States in the run-up to the war and placed our soldiers’ lives in greater jeopardy. Its refusal to allow the United States its air bases was not the act of an ally or friend. That is precisely the point and not secondary to the question.

It is indeed sad that our relationship has gone sideways. Turkey is a magnificent country; its people are wonderful, and its cultural heritage is magnificent. However, laying the blame completely on Washington seems too facile and disingenuous. Turkey could have extracted promises from Washington in the run-up to the war.



Woodrow Wilson’s legacy

I was most interested to learn in a book review of “Wilson’s War” by Jim Powell (“Woodrow Wilson as the worst president,” Books, July 3) that Wilson was responsible for the Bolshevik Revolution, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, World War II, “a century of war, mass murder, and horror” and that Germany and the Central Powers posed no threat to America.

At this level of arraignment, it also would be entirely accurate to say that Abraham Lincoln, in a misbegotten attempt to save the Union, ensured the death of thousands, the terrors of Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, the corruption of the trusts, Boss Tweed, Lizzie Borden and the Spanish-American War; that the defeat of Napoleon by Wellington and the Congress of Vienna led to the Crimean War, Frederick William of Prussia, Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, Maj. Ferdinand Esterhazy and the Vietnam War; or that Oliver Cromwell, in dispatching Charles I, spawned Restoration debauchery, syphilis, Chief Justice George Jeffreys, the plague and the Fire of London.

It is as extraordinary to suggest that German submarine warfare, innocent lives lost and imperiled, and schemes aimed at American sovereignty could be ignored, as it is to say that Wilson and not the Senate doomed the war’s settlement. I notice that neither Theodore Roosevelt nor Henry Cabot Lodge makes a single appearance in this book: the war hawk and the man who smothered the dove of peace.

Cause and effect in history are as complex as in private affairs, and far too coiled a web to be so neatly untangled. I would not like to imagine what every one of us, in our own lives, might be held personally responsible for by such a judge 100 years after our deaths.

Here is a case of hindsight getting so far out of focus ideologically that it becomes a hindrance to sight rather than a perception of reality. Wilson had as much to do with the indictments made in this book as its author will have in altering history’s view of Woodrow Wilson, i.e., nothing.


Office of Development Relations

Princeton University

Princeton, N.J.

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