- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 8, 2006

Leak the Barrett report

In his Friday column (“Cisneros probe side effects, Commentary), R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. urges investigative journalists to seek out the full truth behind special prosecutor David Barrett’s redacted report on former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and the Clinton administration’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service in attacking political foes. What was implied, and which would have been better stated outright, is that the entire report should be leaked to press outlets that would publish the report in its entirety.

While we can all agree that leaking sensitive government data in general is a bad idea, in this case it might shed some light on a few other recent leaks. It would be hard for the New York Times to attack as inappropriate a leak about the past actions of the IRS, when it broke the leak on ongoing National Security Agency wiretaps of terror suspects in the United States and it continues to champion that leak as a brave act of patriotism. Meanwhile, The Washington Post has sold more than a few papers based on the secret CIA prison leak, and both papers have run dozens of stories on the pursuit of the source in the Valerie Plame leak.

In all three cases these leaks involved classified information, and other than the Plame disclosure, involved grave threats to the war on terrorism. The Barrett report deals only with the bureaucratic workings of a government agency.

We the taxpayers have paid more than $20 million for this report, and we deserve to see everything in it, as we have with the reports of all other special prosecutors. As with the Abramoff scandal, let the full truth come out, and watch the roaches scurry away from the light. Once the facts are known we can pursue not only the scoundrels who are directly implicated, but those who obstructed the disclosure as well.

Personally, I fear an IRS accountant with a political ax to grind far more than I do the NSA listening in when I call grandma.


Ashburn, Va.

Panda politics

Discussing why “Taiwan takes offense at China’s panda gift” (World, Saturday) Joe McDonald states that Taiwan “accused Beijing of acting rudely by announcing the gift without consulting the island.” But much more than hurt feelings are involved.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, pandas can only be lent — not given — by China to other countries. As Beijing considers Taiwan part of China, it can claim that it wishes simply to transfer the pandas from one part of China to another — to “the good care of the Taiwanese compatriots.” Taiwan cannot go along with this explanation, as that would mean denying its status as a sovereign entity.

Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-Bian, has clearly indicated that he wants closer cooperation with China — but on the basis of mutual respect. As he said in his New Year address, development of relations must adhere to the four principles of “sovereignty, democracy, peace and parity.” Four days later, he asked Beijing to resume dialogue based “on the spirit” of the Koo-Wang Talks held in Singapore in 1993 — “no preconditions, parity, agreeing to disagree and continuous consultations.” A positive response from Beijing would clearly benefit China as well as Taiwan.


Executive Director

Association on Third World Affairs

Washington1717 k St. NW, DC 20036

W: 202— 973-0157 H: 202— 234-3201 cell : 202— 577-9418

A repugnant remark

It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to identify myself as a conservative Republican, given the danger that I may thereby be associated with a religious extremist crackpot like the Rev. Pat Robertson, Christian Broadcasting Network chairman.

In his latest analysis of the actions of God, to whom he purports to have a unique and direct connection, Mr. Robertson has asserted that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon invited divine punishment, suggesting that his massive stroke resulted from acting in contravention to God’s will when he gave land to the Palestinians as part of the plan in the much-heralded road map to Middle East peace (“Inside Politics,” Nation, Friday).

I hope that the family of Mr. Sharon was not privy to Mr. Robertson’s outlandish claim and insult against a leader of great stature, particularly at this perilous time, as the prime minister fights for his life.

Is there any member of the religious right who can speak with authority to Mr. Robertson, advising him that every time he opens his big mouth he frightens people, makes himself into a buffoon and provides a sterling example for liberals to point to in asserting that the right wing in this country is comprised of loons?


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Proper service

I understand why Oliver North is upset at Rep. John P. Murtha telling youngsters that perhaps this is not a good time to serve their country (“Service to self or country?” Commentary, yesterday). But the choice to serve self over country is not the only way to view the issue.

Too often terms such as these can move citizens in ways that end up being harmful to both self and country. I think what the honorable congressman is getting at is the citizen’s inability to comprehend what proper service is. If you read military historian John Keegan’s book on World War I (“The First World War”) there is an awful sense that war is often caused by the unintended consequences of rational war plans intermixed with patriotism.

In 1914, an archduke from Austria was murdered in Serbia. This murder set off a chain reaction of abstract war plans and unbridled patriotism. The governments of Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France and Britain were pulled into a war by their well-intentioned military planners, as well as their adoring and enthusiastic citizens who were willing to serve their country at all costs.

Unfortunately, such a combination of abstract visions of grandeur, self-protection and citizen celebrations for war ended up in the deaths of around 8 million soldiers along with many more injuries and economic losses. The war also marked the end of the Austria-Hungary Empire, the dissolution of Russia into Communism and the beginning of Nazism in Germany.

Mr. North and Mr. Murtha both wish our country a just and secure future. They both are patriots who have served our country. Yet, if this war ends up dividing them as well as the rest of us into our entrenched political camps, then we will have let the enemy win a crucial battle. It is important to debate this issue in a way that lets the reason of reality win the day over abstract ideologies, misdirected patriotism and ill-begotten anti-war protests.

War is not won when our citizens fail to grasp the enormity of the wages that war demands. It is not won when the populace is not allowed to debate the pros and cons of options. It is not won if we fail to share a common purpose that includes the notions of both self and country.

The citizens of Europe in 1914 failed in all three of these demands that must be considered. They lost not only country but the notion of self that made Western Civilization great. The day we think only of our country and the empty abstraction of selflessness is the day we lose our country and our soul. We must continue to debate this issue without malice in public for our republic.


Leesburg, Va.

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