- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

Chemical security

The Tuesday editorial ” ‘No’ to toxic ideas” states that “inherently safer technologies” in chemical processes are “unrelated” to chemical security. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While higher fences, better-trained guards and more detection equipment can help thwart a terrorist attack, they can never be foolproof. A successful terrorist attack on a chemical facility could affect upward of a million people. Failing to mitigate such a catastrophe is irresponsible, at best.

Among the common-sense approaches to mitigating risk (and making facilities less attractive targets) are reducing the amounts of certain toxic chemicals, redistributing them around a facility and substituting less dangerous chemicals, as already has been done by some in the chemical industry. Experts at the Department of Homeland Security must have the authority to work with industry to provide maximum security for our citizens.

The terrorists are considering all the weapons at their disposal. Our counterterrorism agencies must have all the tools they need to protect us.

SEN. JON S. CORZINE

Newark, N.J.

Katrina’s horrible aftermath

I have watched most of the coverage of the deathly assault on New Orleans by Mother Nature and also the aftermath by humans gone wild.

It is beyond me how Michael Brown of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff can have the audacity to appear on national television touting the attributes of their respective departments in this quagmire.

Mr. Brown talks of the pre-preparations of FEMA, authorized by the president’s advance disaster declaration to position forces and supplies. Yet four days after the event, those supplies still had not reached the needy.

Mr. Chertoff talked Thursday of his plans “that are in place and ready to roll” while people were still dying and, most of all, looters were roaming the streets and shooting or killing those who were there to help them.

Clearly, the officials have failed in this instance, and it’s about time they admit that and get to work to save those who are still living.

Why is it that this country can immediately dispense billions of dollars in aid to countries far away from us (e.g. former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush with their tsunami fundraising) but when it is our own nation, it takes four days to move?

That is deplorable.

I am a survivor of hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in Florida last year. We are not yet fully recovered, but our losses are minimal compared to the tragedy in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle — which has been hit over and over again.

It is ludicrous that this country still sends foreign aid to all manner of countries — even those not friendly to us — yet drags its feet when it comes to helping our own people.

I propose an immediate cessation to all foreign aid until we help our own people without further burden on the taxpayers of this nation. Insurance companies are dropping us right and left (one national company dropped 95,000 clients in Florida just today) and the price of gasoline is becoming a monumental burden on our people. I suspect there is national price gouging.

We need to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, despite the environmentalists’ screams and hollers, and concentrate our funds on helping out our own people. Wake up, America.

This is a serious and potentially self-destructive situation. All of these issues are related and must be addressed immediately by our elected officials.

DIANNE ROBBINS

St. Lucie, Fla.

The graphic scenes of devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina have been followed by heart-wrenching tableaux of human misery and, most lately, of a descent, in the case of New Orleans, into the depths of anarchy and human depravity.

Like Dante and his guide, Virgil, treading through the circles of hell, we are transfixed by the spectacle of unbridled passions. In all of this, however, there is a story that has been, until now, shockingly ignored. It is the question of whether or not the local and state authorities have been taking effective measures to deal with the consequences of the disaster.

Fully realizing the almost unimaginable scale of the disaster and the horrendous challenges the authorities face, it is nonetheless appropriate and timely for the media to find the state and local officials responsible for disaster response and begin asking questions because those officials bear the primary responsibility for the health and safety of the residents and for the rule of law.

Reporters could start by finding those officials and asking them about their plans to communicate with the victims of the storm to advise them where to go and where relief supplies may be had.

They also could ask about evacuation plans and about their intentions and planned measures to reimpose the rule of law and to deal with pervasive looting and violence. All of these matters must be addressed before the arduous job of recovery can begin. The federal government can provide essential help in a number of critical areas, but to do so, there must be effective partners at the state and local levels. Are they up to the job?

RICHARD GRIFFIN

Alexandria

Where is the help from the international community for victims of this disaster from Hurricane Katrina in the impacted areas of New Orleans and other areas of the Gulf Coast?

I don’t see any relief efforts coming from overseas from nations such as Germany, France and Italy. Where are the cash, food, rescue workers and other types of help? If memory serves me right, I recall the United States sending all kinds of aid and millions of dollars to the victims of the tsunami disaster. The international community showed its “gratitude” by declaring that we had not given enough, and the victim nations said we should depart from their countries as quickly as possible.

With every disaster that hit in other nations, the United States was always there to help with compassion, money, workers and food. Had this hurricane hit overseas, you could bet the farm that the United States would be there with helping hands and open wallets.

It appears that help with respect to this disaster will come from the United States, itself. This is the story of America: Americans helping Americans with compassion and love.

JOHN A. MALAGRIN

Baltimore

Marshall didn’t snub Baltimore

MarylandComptroller William Donald Schaefer misstated history in his futile opposition to renaming Baltimore-WashingtonInternational Airport in honor of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

As reported in “Schaefer criticizes renaming of BWI” (Metropolitan, Wednesday) when the renaming came before the Board of Public Works this week, the comptroller claimed that Justice Marshall had snubbed Baltimore by not attending the unveiling of the Thurgood Marshall statue at the federal courthouse in Baltimore.

In reality, Justice Marshall did attend and speak at the May 1980 ceremony. Furthermore,JusticeMarshall brought with him to the Baltimore event five of his colleagues, Justices Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan Jr., Lewis F. Powell Jr., Byron R. White and John Paul Stevens. This was all well-documented in the media.

Mr. Schaefer, as mayor of Baltimore, joined Justice Marshall and the justices on the dais. In fact, Mr. Schaefer sat just four seats away from Thurgood Marshall, with only Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes, Justice Blackmun and Justice Powell between them.

Justice Marshall, like all Supreme Court justices, declined many invitations, but the Baltimore statue ceremony was not one of them. Even if Justice Marshall had not attended the statue ceremony 25 years ago, his distinguished career and singular contributions justify the actions of the General Assembly, the governor and now the Board of Public Works to rename the airport in his honor.

LARRY S. GIBSON

Professor of law

University of Maryland School of Law

Baltimore

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