- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The trouble in Virginia Beach

Washington is as Washington does. The recent editorial “Virginia Beach’s conundrum” (Dec. 14) was misleading — no, check that, it was almost totally inaccurate. And that correlates precisely with many of the findings of the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. The facts it relied upon in its findings were inaccurate, and the editorial perpetuates that inaccuracy.

Please allow me an opportunity to properly realign the record, beginning with two key points:

The BRAC Commission relied on faulty information about supposed encroachment around Naval Air Station Oceana. Commissioners saw houses near the base and incorrectly assumed that they were the result of Virginia Beach allowing homes in the accident zone. The truth is that the vast majority of houses around Oceana now considered an encroachment by the federal government were not incompatible uses when their zoning was approved. Zoning for residential uses goes as far back as 1973; some subdivisions date to 1906.

The BRAC decision language clearly and harshly blames Virginia Beach for being unwilling to control development, but the facts are to the contrary. For the full story on this, along with detailed maps that help explain the real situation, point your Internet browser to www.VB-gov.com/BRAC and click on “The Truth About Encroachment Around Oceana.”

A very important related point is that, historically, the Navy’sconcernsabout Oceana’s master jet base have focused on noise and controlling future encroachment and never on removing existing housing from around the base. During recent Joint Land Use Study discussions, the Navy was much more concerned with noise and future incompatible development than pre-existing uses. The BRAC order emphasizes concerns far beyond those expressed by the Navy.

The BRAC Commission relied on faulty information from others. Incorrect and misleading testimony from Florida and Jacksonville representatives regarding land use, ownership and encroachment around Cecil Field is well documented. The collapse of Jacksonville’s bid for the jets two months ago was preceded by communications to the BRAC correcting information presented in August. Some of these corrections were sent in early October, prompting charges of incompetence — or perhaps conniving — in some newspaper pages. But it seems the law is the law, regardless of how you get there.

The purportedly factual scenarios in the editorial — relying as they do on the two fundamental inaccuracies noted above — do nothing but spread the bad information surrounding this whole situation.

MEYERA E. OBERNDORF

Mayor

City of Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach

Cut-and-run for votes

In “Bad faith” (Op-Ed, Dec. 14), Tony Blankley aptly makes the point that the antiwar left-wing Democrats are acting in bad faith when they call for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq regardless of the consequences in Iraq and the adverse impact on our national security.

The question is why these antiwar advocates and their left-wing allies in the mainstream media do not have our national interest at heart. The answer is simple: These get-out-now liberals do not want President Bush to succeed in Iraq, because, if he does, the benefit to Iraq, this country and the Middle East spells bad news for the Democrats in the upcoming 2006 elections. These cut-and-run Democrats (who would have our troops exchange their combat fatigues for Chicken Little costumes) are desperate. They are prepared to sacrifice our national security and the Iraqi people for what they perceive to be a few more Democratic votes in the ballot box come 2006. This is the only way one can explain their irrational cut-and-run policy.

HARRISON E. MCCANDLISH

Alexandria

Valuable information hidden behind the wall

Democrats are quietly saying gotcha, as they have finally stumbled upon an issue that can be used to cripple the president (“Bush blasts filibuster of Patriot Act,” Page 1, Sunday). While the details are still murky, the wiretapping of Americans with suspected links to al Qaeda may have skirted laws that Democrats have every intention of enforcing. Always sticklers for the law (except for the eight years when Bill Clinton was in office), Democrats fully intend to hold President Bush to the letter of the law irrespective of whether the intelligence gathered by these taps could prevent another September 11. It sounds like the so-called Gorelick Wall redux.

The Gorelick Wall, named after Jamie Gorelick, the Reno Justice Department official who wanted to prevent our intelligence agencies from snooping on American citizens, was fortified with bricks and mortar during the Clinton years.

This is all well and good, unless information is unearthed that terrorists are planning to kill Americans. And if the wrong agency comes upon information that al Qaeda is planning an attack. The Gorelick Wall stood like a sentinel to prevent the sharing of these suspicions with those who were in a position to stop it. As a result, a very exploitable gap was left in our nation’s defenses, leaving us vulnerable to people who were willing to fly planes into buildings.

Fast forward to the revelations that communications may have been intercepted involving citizens who were hoping to unleash the pale horse of the Apocalypse on the American people. Instead of sighs of relief that death may have been averted, Democrats are busy rounding up the posse to bring our president to “justice.” But a couple of points should not be forgotten. Democrats want power so much that it has clouded their judgment, and they should not be entrusted with our nation’s security.

THOMAS M. BEATTIE

Mount Vernon.

Faith and religion in prison

The article “Faith cuts inmate anti-social behavior, study finds” (Nation, Sunday) reports on a study concerning faith-based prison programs. Many civil liberties organizations, such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the Atheists of Florida, are actively trying to eliminate such programs.

A little time spent “Googling” prisons or private prisons will yield a wealth of claims that prisons care nothing about the inmates; that no education, treatment or rehabilitative therapy are provided; and that public operators are interested only in punishment of the guilty and private providers are interested only in profit.

Inmates are entitled to the same basic human rights as the rest of us. Sure, they are in custody for a grievous wrong against society, but 99 percent of inmates will eventually return to society, and they are coming to a community near each of us. It is certainly in our collective interest to provide whatever education, treatment and rehabilitation works.

Many prisons have sweat lodges for American Indian inmates, Catholic Mass, evangelical Christian worship, Jewish and Moslem services are common. In a recent request for proposals to build and operate a new prison in Israel, even the Israeli government made certain that Islamic inmates would have the opportunity to practice their faith.

Religion is ubiquitous in our society. No specific religion can be favored over another by government, and none of us should be forced to participate in religion. We should, however, recognize that inmates need every advantage they can get in changing their lives and staying out of prison. States and private providers who provide or allow such programs deserve high recognition as innovators in correction practices.

MICHAEL LOBUE

Executive director

Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations

San Francisco

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