- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

Impossible threats can become reality

Robert Schulte’s letter Saturday (“Small plane, smaller danger”) disputed my Forum article of May 29, in which I said a small plane might carry an atomic bomb into Washington airspace and blow up the city. He argues that there is no threat because the Cessna 150 can carry just 500 pounds and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were delivered by huge bombers able to carry 35 tons.

My brother, a former airline pilot, also cited the small capacity of the Cessna, but he agreed that other planes — such as the twin-engine jobs he flies — carry larger payloads. Some corporate jets can carry 1.5 tons. Terrorists could obtain these planes. Not every small plane is a Cessna 150.

Fat Man and Little Boy were indeed multiton monstrosities, but that was in 1945, when nuclear technology was new. A workable device was the objective. Size was not an issue. Sixty years later, technology has advanced. We have miniature electronics. A bomb far smaller than the bombs dropped on Japan can make a real mess. The Enola Gay (parked in the new museum near Dulles) is huge, but a plane that size is not needed to deliver a “productive” bomb.

Nevertheless, Mr. Schulte’s letter usefully shows how innovative threats — such as the September 11 attacks — can be dismissed out of hand. Imagine a technical bull session, perhaps 10 years ago, at which someone suggested that terrorists might hijack airliners and fly them into skyscrapers. A chorus of “that’s ridiculous” would have arisen, voicing every possible technical objection. Consensus: It couldn’t happen.

Yet it did happen. Al Qaeda overcame all obstacles, successfully prepared at least four crews and carried out its audacious mission. The plotters didn’t know the mission was “impossible.” Pre-1941, an air attack on Pearl Harbor also was believed unlikely. The harbor was too shallow for air-dropped torpedoes, but the Japanese developed a shallow-draft torpedo and shocked the world.

Constructing and air-delivering a small atomic weapon are not impossible tasks. Obviously, Mr. Schulte thinks my alarm might cause even more restrictions on general aviation than already exist. He doesn’t like this. I’m sorry, but we’re in a war. It’s a real nuisance, but Gen. William T. Sherman differed. He said, ” … war is hell.” If we don’t start thinking outside the box, more “ridiculous” scenarios will happen.

WOODY ZIMMERMAN

Potomac Falls, Va.

Ban human cloning

In “Romney overridden” (“Inside Politics,” Nation, June 1), the author states: “The new Massachusettslawbans cloning that results in a baby, but that practice is already prohibited under federal law.” This is incorrect, as no such federal ban exists.

Further, to ban “cloning that results in a baby” is practically impossible. Once cloning is completed, a new human being exists. If it is implanted in a womb, it will eventually “result in a baby.” The only way to prevent that would be to require abortions of such implanted human embryos.

In order to ban “cloning that results in a baby,” all cloning must be banned.

Federal law does not do this. It should.

WILLIAM L. SAUNDERS JR.

Senior fellow and director

Center for Human Life and Bioethics, Family Research Council

Washington

Government-sponsored health care

The column “Henry Ford’s $5 day dark side,” by Tom Bray (Commentary, June 4), has to be one of the silliest columns you have ever printed. It relates how Henry Ford pried into the personal lives of his employees. Then it leaps to the conclusion that the involvement of government in health care might lead to investigators at your front door demanding to know if you are deserving.

If you want to know what government-furnished health care is like, why not ask one of the millions of us on Medicare? Better yet, ask a retired federal employee whose primary and secondary health insurance are both provided by the federal government. They would tell you Mr. Bray’s warning is hogwash.

To be competitive, we must find a way to relieve businesses of the high cost of employee health care. Some universal-coverage scheme seems to be the way to go. Many experts say that would cost the nation less than the current non-system, in which too many people are employed finding reasons to deny claims.

It will be hard to get a universal system without government involvement. I have been on Medicare for eight years, and I don’t find that idea frightening.

ALAN W. GOLD

Arlington

Countries battle for control in EU

I have been following the saga that is the attempt to ratify the European Union constitution (“EU constitution nears meltdown,” Page 1, June 2). I do not fancy myself a European history expert, but it seems to me that this “union” was doomed from the start. There is just too much violence and competitiveness in the history of these nations to be able to foster some sort of mutual agreement among them. It also seems that a few nations want to control the rest of the union, which is a recipe for disaster, considering their pasts.

I do not think the EU is a good collective idea for all those nations. Some will benefit from the union, and others will not. Just let them compete in the global economic marketplace on their own, and we’ll see who is standing in the end.

PHIL BAUER

Bel Air, Md.

Curb judicial activism

Nat Hentoff’s eloquent defense of the judiciary (“Boundless fury at the judiciary,” Op-Ed, June 6) never addressed the real point: How do you get the court to rule on the basis of the law rather than on the basis of what it thinks the law should be?

We have had rulings on the basis of a “vapor of a ‘penumbra.’” We’ve had rulings on the basis of its being just too ironic that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would actually mean what it says (that there shall be no discrimination for or against on the basis of race).

We’ve had the “equal protection of the laws” portion of the 14th Amendment suspended for 25 years. We’ve seen political expression by individuals within 60 days of an election be deemed a criminal act in a law (McCain-Feingold) that was upheld by the Supreme Court.

We also have seen laws of foreign countries used to determine the intent of our Constitution. None of this is consistent with the Constitution, nor is it consistent with a judge’s oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

Some people think legislating from the bench is a mark of progress: rule by the elites. In fact, it’s a major step backward into the primitive past: rule by a council of elders.

It’s a regression from the rule of law to the rule of men (and women), with the law serving merely as a guideline. The court wrongly arrogated for itself a legislative authority in the era of Chief Justice Earl Warren. Now it’s time to restore the framers’ intent and limit the courts to interpreting existing law.

VICTOR CHOLEWICKI

Washington


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