- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Winning the war

As Clifford May writes in Sunday’s Commentary column “Setting clear goals,” suppressing al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein loyalists in Iraq “is the necessary precondition for all our other objectives.” We must “show we won’t be defeated militarily … [to facilitate] Iraq’s economic and political” goals.

The situation in Iraq, with particular attention to Baghdad, should be a candidate for a site-specific update of the Brezhnev Doctrine. That is, once any contested area comes under Iraqi government control, it must never be ceded back to the adversaries. Iraq must consolidate and maintain victories.

The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seems to be on the correct intensive track. Baghdad can serve as a test case, and, once pacified, it must stay pacified. Iraq is in the “Israel zone” — that is, it cannot always consolidate gains, but it can hope to keep them at a more-or-less “manageable” level. From now on, Iraq and its allies must intensively manage gains. Maybe the war will not be won soon, but it must never be lost. After all, the war in Iraq is “not over ‘til it’s over.” And that’s defined by nurturing an allied victory.

ONA BUNCE

Bethesda

The FDA and drug safety

In their column “Streamlining drug approval” (Op-Ed, June 22), Robert Goldberg and Peter Pitts imply that patients should have to choose between safety and speedy access to new medications. No one knows better than patients with serious illnesses the importance of bringing drugs to market quickly, understanding that not every risk can be identified in advance.

However, what they also demand is sufficient information to be able to assess risks and benefits — which often means further testing of the drug after approval. The authors ignore the fact that the FDA has virtually no authority to compel drug manufacturers to continue to study the safety of products after they have been approved or to force changes to drug labels if dangerous side effects are uncovered.

Sensible, bipartisan solutions are being proposed in Congress that would give the FDA the ability to require additional testing of drugs when there are clear signals of safety problems.

In fact, these proposals actually could allow the FDA to approve drugs more quickly, knowing it will have the tools to continue watching for dangerous side effects once the drug is in the hands of patients.

Also, by giving the FDA the ability to force manufacturers to address safety concerns, we can avoid the worst possible outcome for everyone: pulling a drug from the market that could provide relief to millions of patients.

MICHAEL MANGANIELLO

Senior vice president

government relations

Christopher Reeve

Paralysis Foundation

Washington

JEANNE IRELAND

Director of public policy

Elizabeth Glaser

Pediatric AIDS Foundation

Washington

DIANE DORMAN

Vice president for public policy

National Organization for

Rare Disorders

Washington

Dealing with the leakers

I worked in top-secret areas for many years. My colleagues and I understood the need to protect sensitive sources and respected the laws governing the handling of such material.

Sometimes foreign agents or traitors stole our secrets, but the laws and penalties for violating such trusts were specific and severe. Occasionally a leak would occur, and the media would honor government requests not to publish the information.

In recent years, however, the press’ values toward protecting classified information have changed in an effort to scoop their peers (“The right not to know,” Editorial, Saturday).

Laws still provide severe penalties for military and civilian government workers with security clearances who divulge such information to unauthorized persons.

I believe the press should be held accountable under the same laws when divulging known classified programs or information when such revelations clearly aid the enemy.

During the war against terrorists whose stated goal is to kill us all, our classified programs should be available only to designated information handlers and those with congressional oversight responsibility.

Some might continue to “leak” secrets to the press, but the press should be held just as accountable as the source for broadcasting them when they know the information is classified. The recent disclosure of the system for tracking the financing of terrorist activity was tantamount to broadcasting the location, date and time of the Normandy invasion in 1944.

JOHN W. MALLERY

Berryville, Va.

Metro’s language policy

Here at Metro, we are always looking for ways to improve communications with our customers, including, of course, our non-English-speaking customers. In fact, we have made tremendous strides in improving Metro’s accessibility for our non-English-speaking patrons.

Our Web site has a button that allows our customers to view information in French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Korean and Japanese with one click. We also are making more station announcements in Spanish and printing select fliers in Spanish as well. We have an employee on staff ready to talk with the Spanish-language media for Metro-related stories.

Sunday’s article by Keyonna Summers (“Metro ponders signs in Spanish,” Page 1) implied that we are actively considering a proposal to install station signs in Spanish. In fact, we are not. In a perfect world, unlimited resources would allow us to post signs in several languages, but, unfortunately, that isn’t the reality.

The fact is, the vast majority of our signs are basic station names with arrows and other universal symbols directing people — to exits, escalators, elevators, emergency phones — regardless of their first language.

Though we will always explore and evaluate new, better methods of communicating with Metro riders, we believe the current universal-design signs serve everyone using our system.

DAN TANGHERLINI

Interim general manager

Metro

Washington

A U.N. gun grab

Rachel Stohl claims, “The United Nations met to assess progress made in implementing the 2001 U.N. Programme of Action, agreed to by all U.N. member states, including the United States, to address the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects, not a global gun ban, as the NRA claims” (“A necessary summit,” Letters, Tuesday).

Allow me to quote the speech the representative of Indonesia gave on the first day of this conference: “We believe that no armed group outside of the State should be allowed to bear weapons. We also believe that regulating civilian possession of Small Arms/Light Weapons will enhance our efforts to prevent its misuse. In our view, the issue of ammunition should also be addressed in the context of the Program of Action because in the absence of ammunition, small arms and light weapons pose no danger.”

That is a gun ban, folks. Plain and simple.

JACK SCHEIBLE

NRA member

Springfield

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