- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 24, 2005

Negroponte has a history

In the recent Op-Ed “Right man at the right time” (Friday), Ronald A. Marks contends that John Negroponte’s strength under pressure and his experience in international relations make him an ideal candidate to serve as America’s first director of national intelligence.

However, Mr. Marks overlooks some points that should be considered regarding Mr. Negroponte’s character — specifically, his involvement in the 1980s in covert funding of the Contras in Nicaragua and the record of human-rights abuses by CIA-trained operatives in Honduras.

In his recent State of the Union address, President Bush reiterated his commitment to fighting tyranny and spreading freedom around the world. With that in mind, does it not seem absurd to appoint someone who was associated with aiding warlords and oppressing innocent civilians?



MARY SHAW

Norristown, Pa.

Man’s home is his castle

As noted (“Eminent domain debate heard,” Nation, Wednesday), the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case that may decide whether the Founding Fathers meant what they said about property rights and whether the “ownership society” will include home ownership. In the case of Kelo v. New London, the court will decide whether the revenue needs of a community trump the property rights of an individual.

If the promise of more jobs or more revenue is enough to take someone’s property, then nobody is safe in their home. Practically any home in the United States would generate more tax dollars than a warehouse club. Small businesses provide fewer jobs than an industrial park, and houses of worship produce no tax dollars and hardly any jobs.

The Supreme Court warned in the 1795 case of Vanhorne’s Lessee v. Dorrance: “The despotic power … of taking private property when state necessity requires, exists in every government.” Their view then was that the state must not exercise that power “except in urgent cases.”

With the struggle for liberty and freedom still fresh in their minds, the justices could not imagine a situation “in which the necessity of a state can be of such a nature, as to authorise or excuse the seizing of landed property belonging to one citizen, and giving it to another citizen.”

Yet that is exactly what is happening in New London and elsewhere. The Institute for Justice, a conservative nonprofit law firm, recently released a report showing that between 1998 and 2002, governments have threatened or filed to take over 10,282 private properties and give them to private developers. In 3,700 of these cases, private homeowners or small-business owners were forced to sell their property.

The right of Americans to be secure in their homes and property is in serious jeopardy. This time, it is the bulldozers, and not the British, that are coming.

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago

Gitmo prisoners have limited protection

In “Rights for Gitmo prisoners” (Op-Ed, Monday), Nat Hentoff tries to defend U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green’s recent ruling about detainees at Guantanamo Bay and emphasizes a Supreme Court case from 1866 (Ex Parte Milligan) that Judge Green cites in her decision.

That’s amazingly ironic because the case has no relevance to the question of what constitutional protection, if any, Guantanamo detainees have. Judge Green and Mr. Hentoff focus on selected passages of stirring prose from the Milligan decision, but they gloss over the court’s rationale.

The court found that Milligan could not be imprisoned indefinitely or tried by a military commission because — here’s where the rubber meets the road — he was a U.S. citizen and he had not been captured while engaged in hostile activities against the United States.

Guantanamo detainees, in contrast, were captured while engaged in hostile activities against the United States and are not U.S. citizens.

PHIL EDMUNDS

Boalsburg, Pa.

Beware China’s buildup

All of a sudden our government is worried about the rising military power of China (“China military buildup assessed as threat to U.S.” Nation, Feb. 18). Finally, after years of China increasing and modernizing its military, the alarm bells are ringing at the White House. Perhaps some bright foreign policy adviser can ponder this simple question: How can a once-poor Communist country afford a decade of double-digit rate increases in defense spending and continue to grow economically at an extremely rapid rate?

The answer is obvious: We are funding China’s ominous military buildup by our one-way trade policies. Not only do we enrich China by importing its cheap goods, but we also allow American corporations to outsource their manufacturing plants to China to make these goods. Incredibly, these corporations are encouraged by our own government to export America’s wealth, technology and industry to China, thereby strengthening a Communist dictatorship, economically and militarily, while weakening America. Ironically, China can afford to build up its navy while we reduce ours to save money. Even more alarming is China’s growing nuclear and missile capability, which directly threatens American cities.

We cannot continue to allow greedy corporations to sell out our national security. The White House and Congress should quickly review our suicidal trade policies with China in light of their massive military buildup.

MICHAEL MARK

Warwick, Pa.

The following facts confirm that most Taiwanese consider rule by Beijing to be an inconvenience, not a tragedy. First and foremost, the Taiwanese voluntarily made their island economically dependent on China by investing more than $100 billion into more than 50,000 businesses on the mainland. Pursuing this money, more than 1 million Taiwanese have emigrated to China to live and work. Even officers retired from the Taiwanese military have emigrated to China to work at lucrative jobs, often arranged by the Chinese government. In exchange, the officers have given Beijing top-secret information about American weapons sold to Taipei.

Why should Americans die to defend people with such nonchalance toward rule by Beijing? Even before the mainland Chinese use European weapons to seize Taiwan, Washington (and Tokyo) should consider how to trade the island away in exchange for Chinese concessions on matters of vital national or humanitarian interest (“Bush warns of China arms sales,” Page 1, Wednesday).

For example, Washington could propose that, in exchange for terminating support for Taiwan, Beijing shall: (1) allow North Korean refugees to transit freely through China to South Korea, (2) remain silent in the event that the American (or Japanese) military destroys the nuclear facilities in North Korea, (3) grant autonomy to Tibet, (4) allow the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet as its spiritual leader, and (5) give, to American (and Japanese) companies the same preferential treatment that Taiwanese companies enjoy in China.

DWIGHT SUNADA

Stanford, Calif.

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