- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Methamphetamines and Patriot Act don’t mix

Congress should not delay passage of the Combat Meth Act by tethering it to the Patriot Act reauthorization process. (“Patriot Act report targets meth,” Nation, Dec. 12).

The methamphetamine epidemic is the nation’s biggest drug problem, affecting rural communities and megacities equally. The Combat Meth Act will go a long way in empowering law enforcement to eliminate this plague within five years.

The act has wide bipartisan approval in Congress and is strong enough as stand-alone legislation. Linking it to the Patriot Act is inappropriate and unnecessary.

TODD MOLLENKOPF

McConnelsville, Ohio

A first step in immigration reform

In the article “House approves border fence” (Page 1, Friday) there is a reference to the opposition by Mexican President Vicente Fox, who, according to the article, said “a fence would violate migrants’ rights,” and he “repeated his call for Congress to pass a bill to legalize illegal aliens.”

By what right does a foreign leader claim that his citizens have a right to break our laws by entering our country illegally? It’s about time Congress quit pandering to foreign influences and consider the best interests of our citizens.

The border-security bill takes the first step toward immigration reform by authorizing an expansion of the fence along the border and requiring thedeterminationthat documents of prospective employees are valid, but much more must be done in order to assure that the nation’s immigration laws are strengthened.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

No ‘national’ putt-putt, please

What is it about unadorned, open recreational space that so offends the myriad commissions, committees and agendas at work in this city determined to turn all of Washington into a theme park (“A growing, lively Mall,” Letters, Friday)? I refer to the plans to annex East Potomac Park into the Mall and replace those apparently offensive softball fields, cricket pitches, picnic areas and golf course with what sets planners’ hearts a patter: a marble orchard of more monuments, museums and memorials.

Is it really possible to do anything in Washington without some historical or political theme attached to it? Is cycling or jogging around Hains Point that offensive and without meaning that it must be molded to some grandiose master plan? According to the National Coalition to Save Our Mall’s Web site, it will have not only putt-putt golf but a “national” putt-putt golf course. So what, we hit the ball around little memorials or effigies of the Founding Fathers? East Potomac Park is just fine the way it is and thank goodness the cited 1933 plan wasn’t implemented to waste more tax dollars. Those of us who use the park all the time like it just the way it is. We don’t want it ruined at taxpayer expense.

What Washington really needs is a downtown Sears, Home Depot and Target.

And more neighborhood supermarkets.Anddecent schools. And plain, old-fashioned, well-maintained recreational facilities for the ordinary folks who actually live here. We sure don’t need another museum or memorial, let alone a “national putt-putt golf course.”

PETER C. KOHLER

Washington

Hamstrung national security

President Bush’s criticism of senators who oppose reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act is suddenly on much shakier ground (“Bush blasts filibuster of Patriot Act,” Page 1, yesterday). While many Americans wondered about the balance between government’s information-gathering authority and civil liberties, the majority seemed willing to believe the government would be well-behaved and constitutionally guided.

The leaking of the existence of the secret National Security Agency program which spies on Americans without a search warrant gives skeptics the upper hand in the debate and makes it more likely that the Patriot Act will be substantially modified before reapproval.

The administration is unable to answer questions about the constitutional authority for the NSA program; indeed there probably is no answer. On the other hand, it is ironic that legislators and others who never look for constitutional support for their own quests for increased government power only flock to fundamental principles when it suits them.

ROSS G. KAMINSKY

Boulder, Colo.

Thanks to President Bush, the recent elections in Iraq for a parliament has put that nation that much closer to a full-fledged democracy. But no thanks to liberal Republican Sen. John McCain, who led the so called anti-torture measure to be attached to the defense appropriations bill, forcing the president to sign the whole thing into law or veto it and leave our troops without critical funds. Mr. McCain’s measure, which I dub, “The Terrorist Prisoner Protection Bill of 2005” will, in my opinion, prohibit the type of interrogation of terrorists needed to extract critical information about a possible future terrorist plot designed to kill thousands of Americans.

If that is not enough, the Senate Democrats, along with some Republicans, have stalled the extension of the Patriot Act beyond the end of this year. This act, in its present form, is a vital and necessary tool in fighting international terrorism and protecting the homeland. But now we are left with the laws that were in place before the September 11 attacks, including the wall of separation built by President Clinton’s deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick, which prohibits the sharing of information between the intelligence branches and the enforcement branches of government, and a major reason why the September 11 attacks were not stopped.

Perhaps these members of Congress believe the September 11 attacks were just a one-time aberration, and future terrorist threats are just a figment of the president’s imagination. It appears to me that it will take at least two or three more September 11-style terrorist attacks on our nation before these lethargic, overpaid legislators fully realize that we are in a global struggle against a terrorist enemy dedicated to the cause of destroying Western civilization and the United States itself.

JOHN A. MALAGRIN

Baltimore

Help, not protest, in the Christmas spirit

The 100 religious leaders in thearticle”Budgetcuts protested”(Metropolitan, Thursday) should all go home and rethink their approach to the issue of helping the poor. Programs that help the poor directly are much more productive and efficient than going through the government, either federal or local.

The $50 fine paid by the 114 arrested, plus the costs of being there for the 300 protesters, could have been a good start toward direct help for the poor.

Passage of the Fair Minimum Wage Act 2005 would eliminate even more entry-level jobs and limit the opportunity for the poor to help themselves.

The Christmas spirit referred to by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, should actually encourage the protesters to use their own resources to help the poor rather than foolishly spending their time and money trying to get someone else to do their job.

ANNE HRANICKY

Laurel

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