- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Rove-Durbin disconnect

I’m not sure, but I think I have this straight. Democrats are outraged at the remarks by Karl Rove regarding liberalism but not by Sen. Richard J. Durbin’s statement comparing America’s treatment of detained terrorists to the tactics of heinous, murderous regimes (“Rove’s mockery of 9/11 liberals riles Democrats,” Page 1, Friday). Do Democrats, including my own senators, Christopher J. Dodd and Joe Lieberman, think their feelings are more important than the safety of U.S. troops around the world? Unbelievable.

SHEILA M. BLANCHET

Guilford, Conn.

Karl Rove is the only person so far who has said what we all are feeling. After Mr. Durbin’s comments last week and his so-called apology, which wasn’t one, Mr. Durbin should resign. Mr. Durbin was the one who compared our military to Nazis. Does he know how damaging that is to the servicemen and -women who are fighting for our freedoms?

Where were Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and the other Democrats and Republicans last week? They were all silent then. I applaud Karl Rove for saying what he did. He did not say any names. It is about time a gag order is put on Congress and the media. Where is the Sedition Act, the act that talks about aiding the enemy in the time of war?

VICTORIA COSTANZA

Sacramento, Calif.

Instead of asking for Karl Rove’s apology, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and the rest of the disgraceful Democrats should have been more concerned over Sen. Richard J. Durbin’s awful comments.

The Democrats have failed to stand up for American servicemen and America’s reputation since Mr. Durbin made those disgusting comments.

But they have no problem defending themselves against Karl Rove. Truly disgraceful.

The actions of the Democratic leadership since September 11 have been lacking. Democrats are constantly making irresponsible statements and not putting the United States first.

Americans have spoken at the voting booth. But the Democrats are not listening to the will of the American people. They have sold out to the left and are blocking progress. At times it appears they are actively working against our country.

I truly believe there is something seriously wrong with the Democratic Party in America today.

JACKIE KEARNS

Staten Island, N.Y.

Ban coyote hunting

A bounty hunt on coyotes is a horrible idea (“Hunters paid $50 to kill coyotes,” Metropolitan, Tuesday). As the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources points out on its Web site, “Although bounties have been liberally used on coyotes in the west, no bounty system has ever worked.”

The coyotes killed by hunters are unlikely to be the ones causing damage to livestock. Prudent farming practices and reasonable precautions, combined with a program of reimbursement to farmers for losses, would be a far more cost-effective and humane approach to predation, which occurs on a relatively small scale.

Sport hunting of coyotes is growing in popularity in western Virginia. Pulaski County is using scarce tax dollars to pay bonuses to sport hunters. This is a waste of funds that could be better spent on much-needed human services.

Pulaski County should cancel its useless giveaway to hunters, and Virginia lawmakers should repeal the ill-conceived statute that authorizes it.

KRISTIN LEPPERT

Campaign manager, hunting issues

Humane Society of the United States

Washington

Kelo and ‘international opinion’

Just weeks ago, the Supreme Court argued in Roper v. Simmons that “[i]t is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion” regarding juvenile death penalties. Last week, however, it flagrantly violated “international opinion” in its Kelo v. New London decision, which strips private property from less affluent individuals in the name of “economic development” (“Supreme Court backs eminent domain,” Page 1, Friday) The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that “[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.”

The so-long-as-others-make-better-use-of-the-property test is as arbitrary as they come. I guess, though, that the court could argue that Susette Kelo’s private property was, in fact, legally obtained. The court took it, for the benefit of the collective, in its altruistic crusade for the purported “public good.”

Ayn Rand said it best: “Since there is no such entity as ‘the public,’ since the public is merely a number of individuals, the idea that ‘the public interest’ supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others.”

One could not help but wonder whether the “public good” would be better served by taking the homes of Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer and, in their place, erecting condominiums, parking lots and Wal-Marts, given the benefits of economic development facilitated by increased tax revenues and job creation.

JOHN TERPENING

Alexandria

The record on Iraq deaths

“Terrible” and “shrill and superficial” are words we could use to describe your interpretation of our study of civilian causalities after the invasion of Iraq (“The Lancet’s politics,” Editorial, Thursday). Your editorial illustrates the difficulty some have in accepting scientific findings when they conflict with political positions.

Our study, published in the Lancet in October, was conducted to assess the impact of war and was motivated by our concern for civilians caught up in conflict. We’ve conducted mortality estimates using similar methods in the Congo, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Afghanistan and Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

None of the findings of these studies was ever challenged by the press. Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have even cited findings from our Congo studies as fact. The Iraq mortality study attracted considerable attention, but the criticism came not from the scientific community, which reviewed the methods very closely, but from those who were made uncomfortable by our findings.

Our study used standard, time-honored epidemiologic methods to measure death before and after the invasion. Iraqis from randomly selected households reported deaths from any cause that occurred in their own immediate households and not “how many deaths they’d heard of,” as your editorial stated.

More than 80 percent of the reported deaths could be validated by death certificates. Similar population-based methods are used every day to calculate infant deaths in Africa, HIV risk in Asia and life expectancy worldwide.

Our study examined all causes of death, including deaths from childhood illness and lack of access to safe water or medical care, not just those related to violent acts. The estimates you cited from www.iraqbodycount.org, while valuable, comprise violent deaths reported in the media, which occur largely in urban areas. Those estimates do not assess the overall burden of war on the people of Iraq.

Our study found a best estimate for 32 neighborhoods of 98,000 excess deaths, with a 95 percent confidence interval of 8,000 to 194,000 deaths, and an estimate based on one Anbar Province neighborhood of an additional 200,000, which as a single measure could not have a confidence interval calculated.

As we stated in the conclusion of the Lancet article, when these findings are taken in total, we believe the death toll from the U.S. invasion to be at least 100,000 and that this estimate is conservative. Other findings, such as a July 1, 2004, New England Journal of Medicine article by military researchers, indicate that our 100,000 estimate was probably too low.

Civilians, perhaps unavoidably, have died in Iraq. It serves both the Iraqi and the U.S. public to know the human cost of this war. It is inconceivable that Americans would accept not knowing how many died in the September 11 attacks. Iraqis deserve no less.

LES ROBERTS AND

GILBERT BURNHAM

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Baltimore

RICHARD GARFIELD

Columbia University School of Nursing

New York

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