- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2005

FBI databases

I want to clarify a few points raised in the article “FBI database often errs on aliens’ status” (Metropolitan, Friday), notably the reference to an “FBI database.” The FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) only houses data received from other sources and does not generate any new data. Since its inception, NCIC has been an effective tool to collect and share information with local, state, tribal and federal entities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Over time, the mission and breadth of NCIC has expanded to 18 data files, including seven property and 11 person files.

The database referenced by the article is one of the person files in NCIC, known as the Immigration Violator File (IVF). The Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement provides IVF data to the FBI for inclusion in NCIC. The FBI does not control or generate the IVF data and only maintains this data in the NCIC architecture. The reliability and currency of information contained in NCIC rests with the agency submitting the information.

Ultimately, a positive NCIC hit, from IVF or otherwise, is not probable cause for a law enforcement officer to take action. As such, NCIC policy requires the inquiring agency to make contact with the entering agency to verify that the information is accurate and up-to-date. This requirement is not meant to burden officers needlessly but to provide law enforcement officers who query the database the best available information in an efficient, streamlined manner to protect our nation’s security and borders.

JOHN MILLER

Assistant director

Office of Public Affairs

FBI

Washington

Subsidies and school success

In response to Marc Ferrara’s column on the Lab School of Washington, I would like to suggest that his conclusions on what makes the Lab School successful seem off (“When public schools aren’t enough,” Op-Ed, Monday).

First, the Lab School’s limits on the range of applicants who can enter make it successful in two ways. One is the use of ability or IQ entrance exams. The second is the cost of the program. Neither of these screening methods is available to “cream” the wide range of registered students in D.C. Public Schools.

The reason so many of the Lab School’s students go off to college is because they are screened for it upon entry. The cost of the school requires certain characteristics in a student’s caregiver, one who is guaranteed to come to the table with more resources than some (but not all) of the students in the District’s public schools.

The other factor that makes the Lab School successful is that it is heavily government subsidized. More than one-third of its students are D.C. Public Schools students; others come from the suburbs. In addition, the District government provides financial incentives through the public financing of its facilities. It’s ironic that the Lab School can have a beautiful new indoor swimming pool for supporting fewer special education students than Ward 3’s Wilson High School — but it does. In turn, D.C. tax dollars, through tuitions, pay for this financing.

Yes, the Lab School is a successful school, if for no other reason than that it is very wealthy at this point. At the time when Sally L. Smith opened the school, the Lab School’s services may have been revolutionary, but now they are not much different from those of any other private school in the District.

ED DIXON

Washington

A growing, lively Mall

In “East Potomac Park doesn’t need to feel like Mall” (Weekend Athlete, Sports, Sunday), Steve Nearman should not have concluded that if the Mall is expanded to East Potomac Park, “you can forget about those awesome training sessions and family outings” around the park without contacting us or — better yet — attending the December 7 presentation at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. If anything, the ideas proposed by designers on December 7 would enhance public use for runners, golfers (including putt-putt), skateboarders and boaters, as Congress originally intended.

The Corcoran session began with historical facts, including: Congress designated those 300-plus acres for recreation and enjoyment in the late 19th century; the Army Corps of Engineers planned recreational complexes along the Washington Channel shoreline and at Hains Point, but the plans were never carried out; also never realized were bridges connecting the long island to the Southwest waterfront to provide convenient access for local residents, and a canal cut through the island for direct boat connection from Washington Channel to the Potomac River.

As for museum or memorial sites, the column correctly notes that the National Capital Planning Commission’s Memorials and Museums Master Plan “does include several sites in East Potomac Park.” In fact, we agree that anything built there should “enhance, not overwhelm, the predominantly waterfront open space and recreational character.” We encourage The Times’ readers to write us and call us with their ideas.

The Mall’s future could be one of the most positive, optimistic and visionary projects for the nation in the 21st century. It was a century ago when the Senate Park Commission, or McMillan Commission, expanded and re-envisioned this great symbol of American democracy.

W. KENT COOPER

Coordinator

National Mall Third Century Initiative

Washington

JUDY SCOTT FELDMAN

Chairman

National Coalition to Save Our Mall

Rockville

Anniversary and progress in Kazakhstan

Today, the people of Kazakhstan will celebrate the 14th anniversary of our independence. In a short period of time, we have turned one of the most backward of the former Soviet republics into the most dynamic and prosperous nation in Central Asia with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Kazakhstan has become known as a good example of getting rid of weapons of mass destruction, a strong advocate of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, and an active participant in the fight against new threats to the world. Kazakhstan has become a major oil producer and exporter. Today Kazakhstan is a model of harmony and respect among our population of 100 ethnic groups and 40 religions. Finally, Kazakhstan, as a recognized leader in economic and democratic development in its region, demonstrates a model of evolutionary development for transitional nations.

These achievements are largely due to the policies of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and our people have supported him. On Dec. 4, in an unprecedented open and competitive election in Kazakhstan (“Kazakhstan votes,” Editorial, Dec. 4), an overwhelming majority voted to re-elect Mr. Nazarbayev.

Today, Kazakhstan enters a new stage in our growth. We face an ambitious goal of expediting economic and political modernization and want to propel Kazakhstan into the ranks of the world’s most competitive nations. We are very optimistic about our future, and believe that with the support of our friends and partners we will achieve our goal.

We are deeply grateful to the United States for its support and friendship over the years of our independence. Kazakhstan and the United States are bound together by common values of freedom and democracy, and a commitment to prosperity and security for our people. Our countries are firm allies in the fight against terrorism and partners in economic development.

In a recent phone call to Mr. Nazarbayev, President Bush congratulated him on his victory in the election. The two presidents expressed a common interest in developing the strategic partnership between our nations, and we look forward to the future of that relationship with great optimism.

KANAT B. SAUDABAYEV

Ambassador of Kazakhstan

Washington

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