- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 19, 2006

Government videotaping is wrong

I dislike crime as much as the next person, but I am not willing to have my life videotaped by the government in order to prevent it (“D.C. cameras not a snap to locate,” Page 1, Wednesday). Apparently, I don’t have a choice anymore.

I was sorely mistaken when I thought that the Fourth Amendment protected my right to privacy.

This right only exists if I have a “reasonable” expectation of privacy.

Who gets to decide what is and is not reasonable? The government. While I’m grateful that Washington’s emergency surveillance legislation expires in October, I would be more grateful if the government would respect my right to privacy all the time.

ERIN WILDERMUTH

Washington

Legislative overreach in Maryland

I wonder if after the striking down of the early-voter law, the Democrat-controlled Maryland General Assembly is going to realize it is constantly overstepping its authority (“Judge nixes early voting,” Page 1, Aug. 12).

If one were to look at the latest movements by the Maryland General Assembly over the past few years, there is common trend. Let’s take the Wal-Mart case. The General Assembly passed a law, which the governor vetoed — only to be overridden — that forced companies employing more than 10,000 people to spend 8 percent of their payrolls on health insurance. This law only applied to one company in Maryland — Wal-Mart — and, in doing so, violated federal law.

Judges agreed that the law passed by the assembly violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, a federal law that allows multistate employers to keep uniform nationwide benefits and uniform nationwide administration.

In accordance with the Wal-Mart case, the assembly also overstepped its authority when it passed a law that included the firing of the Maryland Public Service Commission. Although the official ruling was postponed, saving the jobs of the current PSC, the court is doubting the action taken by the Assembly and reviewing whether it had any authority to implement the firings. The writing is on the wall. How many times can one body of government challenge the courts and lose?

Our future looks dark if the lawmakers themselves cannot abide by the laws they are serving to protect.

MICHAEL GOINS

Rockville

Wages and immigration

I applaud Alfred Tella for writing about the connection between minimum wage and illegal immigration (“Minimum wage and illegal immigration,” Commentary, Aug. 9). He is justified in saying more research is needed. However, if it is true that minimum wage destroys jobs on the lower end of the wage and productivity spectrum and that these are the jobs that require unskilled immigrants because Americans don’t want them, then it follows that eliminating the jobs or forcing the jobs to migrate south would reduce illegal immigration.

Raising the minimum wage may be radical surgery, but that doesn’t mean it should never be done. The minimum wage should be used judiciously as part of our economic and social policy. In terms of political strategy, a policy of high wages is unbeatable. The right combination of limited immigration and minimum wage would constitute a “high wage” policy.

DOUG FORBES

Greenfield, Ind.

Dangerous misrepresentations

Thank you for Joel Mowbray’s article “Presenting false images” (Op-Ed, Wednesday), which noted that Reuters freelance photographer Adnan Hajj is not the first “journalist” to have digitally altered, staged, misidentified or fabricated photographs to disparage Israel. Indeed, Mr. Mowbray overlooks two of the most egregious instances of “fauxtography” in recent years: the Grossman caption and al-Dura blood libel.

On Sept. 30, 2000, the New York Times and other media outlets published an Associated Press picture showing a bloodied man crouching beneath a club-wielding Israeli policeman.

The photo caption identified the bloodied victim as a Palestinian and implied that the Israeli policeman had brutally beaten him. In fact, it was later revealed that the “Palestinian” was actually an American Jew, Tuvia Grossman, who had been seized from his taxicab by a Palestinian mob, stabbed and nearly beaten to death.

The Israeli policeman, cast as a vicious brute by the New York Times caption, was in fact a genuine hero who had intervened in the attack at tremendous personal risk to save Mr. Grossman’s life.

That same day, Israel was universally condemned for the apparent shooting death of a 12-year-old boy, Mohammed al-Dura, during a firefight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists at Netzarim Junction in Gaza.

The “evidence” that an Israeli killed the boy consisted of a heavily edited video clip shot by a Palestinian cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma, and an accompanying voice-over provided by the French bureau chief for France 2, Charles Enderlin — who did not witness the incident — which said an Israeli had shot the boy.

Overnight, al-Dura became the iconic Palestinian child martyr, inspiring dozens of suicide terror bombings by young Palestinians targeting Israeli innocents, including children.

Only much later, after irreparable damage was done, was it generally acknowledged that Mr. Enderlin’s voice-over accusing Israel of the shooting could not possibly be correct.

An analysis by physicist Nahum Shahaf established that the Israeli soldiers were not in position to shoot al-Dura during the firefight, whereas the Palestinian gunmen were. The analysis also raised questions as to whether the entire video may have been staged.

Indeed, it is suspicious that there were several camera crews in the area at the time of the firefight but that the Palestinian cameraman was the only journalist who actually witnessed the incident, let alone captured it on film, and that he was perfectly positioned to shoot it in close-up.

France 2 continues to refuse to release the raw footage to the public, but at least four independent journalists who have viewed the raw footage agree that Israeli soldiers did not shoot the boy. Daniel Leconte, a former France 2 journalist, concluded that “the only ones who could hit the child were the Palestinians.” Denis Jeambar, editor of the French news magazine L’Expresse, expressed alarm that the raw footage consisted mostly of Palestinians performing for the camera and faking injuries and called on France 2 to admit its mistakes.

Luc Rosenzweig, a former journalist for Le Monde and freelance contributor to the French-language MENA news agency, and Phillipe Karsenty, head of the French media watchdog Media Ratings, both concluded that the France 2 video was a hoax.

STEPHEN A. SILVER

Walnut Creek, Calif.

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