- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 3, 2006

Freedom in Tunisia

We would like to object to the biased depiction of Tunisian politics in ” ‘Reality’ silences pro-democracy activist in Tunisia,” (World, Wednesday).

Tunisia is not “a single-party state” as the article claims. There are in fact eight opposition parties which freely conduct their political activities, participate in elections, take part in parliamentary debates and express their views in public forums and in the media.

Furthermore, Tunisia is a country governed by the rule of law. There is no “harassment” of anybody because of his or her views. The rights and freedoms of all citizens are guaranteed by the Constitution and are an every-day reality. Democratic reform has ensured the opposition with larger political participation and means of unfettered expression of its views. Civil society is free, dynamic and diverse. There are more than 8,500 associations active in all areas of activity.

Freedom of the press is a tangible reality. Freedom of opinion and expression is guaranteed by the Tunisian Constitution and is reflected in the public debate.

The Tunisian authorities have nothing to do with whatever problems Neila Charchour Hachicha says she is encountering in her private life. And, as in all countries governed by the rule of law, citizens in Tunisia are equal and the judiciary is independent. Mrs. Charchour Hachicha’s husband was convicted by a court of law for real-estate fraud. As part of the due process of law, he has enjoyed all his rights, including his right to adequate defense counsel.

TAOUFIK CHEBBI

Press Counselor

Embassy of Tunisia

Washington

Exploiting Haditha

Listening to Rep. John Murtha and left-wing zealots and media propagandists, one would think that the investigation into the killing of civilians in Haditha was over and that it was found that the Iraqi men, women and children were killed by cold-blooded Marines with no conscience (“Bush seeks truth in Iraq probe,” Nation, Thursday).

Such reporting couldn’t be better for the terrorists had they written it for al Jazeera themselves. Also, it is not above the terrorists themselves to perform such a heinous act, and make it look like American soldiers did it, solely so our left-wing media and the Democrats in Congress would pick it up, and further demoralize our troops.

From the moment we stepped foot into Iraq and forced Saddam to destroy his weapons of mass destruction, the enemy has been making good use of the Democrats and the media to win the war.

Like in the Vietnam era, our short-sighted liberal media and liberal political machine can be counted on the fall to their knees and believe the worst of us and our military, even before any evidence is presented. It plays into the terrorists’ hands, and is detrimental to our survival. Mr. Murtha and his fellow accusers should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be so used.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

Protect the Constitution first

Capt. Ray Wikstrom has hit the nail on the head (“Stars, stripes and vets,” Letters, Friday). I too am a retired naval officer who takes a back seat to no one when it comes to love of my country’s flag. Yet, I profoundly disagree with my brothers in the American Legion and those others supporting the amendment. Throughout my career, I took many oaths — and every one of them was to “preserve and defend” the Constitution. There was not a single word about the flag.

The unique thing about the Constitution is that it does not provide any restrictions on the people. Rather, it provides limitations on the government. The proposed amendment, along with similar amendments proposed for social reasons such as defining marriage, have no place in the Constitution.

How do we define “physical desecration”? All can agree that it is burning the flag — but then that is the protocol for disposing of flags. Does desecration include wearing shirts decorated like flags, or funny convention hats that are reshapings of the flag? Will the caricature of “Uncle Sam” be in violation? Where is the line drawn? What articles of clothing are proper and what are a desecration?

There are just too many loose ends when we start using the Constitution as a means of going around the courts. Just change the courts.

The flag is the symbol of our country and it deserves our respect. However, we have had many flags in our history and all were symbols. We have had only one Constitution. We need to expend our efforts on protecting the unchanging Constitution and not the often-changing flag.

CMDR. DALE FOX

Navy (Ret.)

Fairfax

Environmentalists and the ICC

“Ehrlich breaks ground for the ICC” (May 31) shows a picture of Eve Burton on the front page protesting the ICC because it will take her home in Cashell Estates.

The environmental establishment was the cause of taking her home, not the state.

The state capitulated to the environmental establishment by changing the route and taking about 15 homes rather than building the shorter alternative ICC route above wetlands using elevated end-on construction technologies. Additionally, the shorter route would have reduced fuel consumption by about 30,000 fuel miles per day for which people must pay for the next 100 years in terms of cash, time and air quality.

In Louisiana, I-10 was faced with a similar problem; however, the decision there was made not to take homes and businesses, but instead build I-10 above wetlands with virtually no adverse effects.

G. STANLEY DOORE

Silver Spring

Separating power and corruption

David Limbaugh makes an important point in taking on the flare-up by congressional leaders over the search of Rep. William Jefferson’s office and the seizure of several documents: “To argue the separation-of-powers doctrine grants immunity from official search and seizure to members of the legislative branch is a slap in the face to another lofty and indispensable concept: the rule of law.” (“Crying wolf over separation of powers,” Commentary, Thursday).

The Justice Department is part of the executive branch, but corruption is not the constitutional privilege of the legislative branch (although the refusal to pass ethics reforms might make someone think that it is).

Requiring Congress to pass legislation before the president enacts it is a separation of powers. Protecting Mr. Jefferson from a criminal investigation is not. Mr. Limbaugh calls this a “mockery” of the principle, but that’s going easy on those who cried foul play. It seems strange that members of Congress, especially Republicans, would put themselves at such odds with the executive branch on behalf of a congressman with so much evidence pointing toward his corruption. Of course, Congress wants to protect itself, but it gives the rest of the country a bad impression of a group that only stands up to the president when it feels violated. These representatives also chose a fight that makes it look as if they are blocking the fight against corruption.

When members of Congress (or presidents, for that matter) break the law, they should be investigated and prosecuted like everyone else. It’s outrageous to think that the FBI needs to get congressional approval to investigate congressional corruption any more than it needs to get any citizen’s permission to investigate him or her — indeed, “congressmen need to remember they are the representatives of the people, not our privileged masters.”

ALLISON SMITH

Atlanta


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