- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2006

Immigration reform

Now that President Bush has hit a new low in the polls, it is expected he will send National Guard troops to our border with Mexico for another one of his carefully orchestrated photo ops (“Bush to tout guest-worker plan,” Nation, yesterday).

Will anyone in the media bring up the fact that the president has refused to fully fund the U.S. Border Patrol?

Although he signed a bill in mid-December to add 10,000 Border Patrol agents, Mr. Bush’s proposed 2006 budget only allocated enough money for 210 of them. Yet there was enough money to give tax breaks to the corporations and the rich who hire illegals.

Sending troops to the border is a desperation move designed to draw conservatives back to the president — but while Mr. Bush is busy staging photo ops on the border, thousands of uninspected cargo containers enter our ports every day. They could be full of immigrants, drugs or nukes.

Real, long-term solutions cost more money and require more work than flashy but inneffective photo ops staged for the TV cameras.

WILLIAM C. STOSINE

Iowa City, Iowa

According to your article “Senators agree on ‘amnesty’ proposal” (Page 1, Friday), “Senate leaders reached an agreement yesterday on immigration reform legislation that would strengthen border security but also would allow millions of illegal aliens who have been in the U.S. for two years or longer to apply for citizenship.”

Americans should be reminded that in 1986, Congress passed the misnamed Immigration Reform and Control Act, which gave amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens, but most provisions in that law to curb illegal immigration have been ignored. Congress is misleading Americans again.

Mexico has actively encouraged illegal migration to the U.S. and vigorously fought all U.S. measures to curb illegal immigration though it does not tolerate any illegal aliens on its own soil. In 1997, Ernesto Zedillo, then-president of Mexico, said that he proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important — a very important — part of that.

Massive demonstrations took place recently across the United States, with many protesters waving Mexican flags, pressuring the U.S. with demands identical to Mexico’s. Isn’t it clear that Mexico is using both legal and illegal migration to strongly influence American policies and our future elections and to extend the Mexican nation?

MARTY LICH

Gypsum, Colo.

Detecting prostate cancer

Dr. Richard N. Atkins argues that early detection of prostate cancer saves lives, that all men should have an annual PSA test to detect prostate cancer, and that those of us who oppose the test do so because of concern about the costs associated with biopsies, which may be necessary following a finding of elevated PSA (“No more prostate excuses,” Op-Ed, Friday).

Such arguments obscure some basic facts:

First, there is no consensus in the medical community that PSA reduces the probability of death from prostate cancer. As the National Cancer Institute notes, “using the PSA test to screen men for prostate cancer is controversial because it is not yet known if this test actually saves lives.”

Second, the reason many health professionals are skeptical about the PSA has nothing to do with money. It has to do with our concern that the test will identify tumors that never would have killed a man in the first place, causing him to undergo surgical or radiological treatments that cause negative consequences, including impotence and incontinence.

There is an oft-used analogy that puts prostate cancer screening in perspective: If a farmer had three animals — turtles, rabbits, and birds — and wished to build a screen to keep the animals on his property, his efforts would have mixed results: The screen is not needed to handle the turtles — they move so slowly they are not going anywhere. The birds would not be managed by the screen because they would fly away — off the property. The only animals that would be affected by the screen would be the rabbits: The screen might prevent them from jumping off the property.

Applying this metaphor to prostate cancer, it is clear that the PSA is only useful when it can pick up the rabbits — those tumors confined to the prostate but with the potential to metastasize. PSA does not help with “turtles,” or rather men whose tumors would not threaten them anyway, nor would PSA help with “birds,” cases in which the cancer already has spread by the time the PSA results are in.

Men should remain highly skeptical of PSA results and should discuss all options with their physicians, including the option of doing nothing (“watchful waiting”) in cases where the tumor appears to be small and non-aggressive.

ELIZABETH M. WHELAN

President

American Council on Science and Health

New York

The NSA database

The baseless fretting over the “revelation” that the National Security Agency is maintaining a database of telephone numbers reminds me of Captain Peter “Wrong Way” Peachfuzz, a character in the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon series, who went around stamping telephone directories as “secret” because, as he explained, “My number is in there”(“Bush denies report of ‘trolling’ by NSA,” Page 1, Friday).

It is perfectly reasonable, and perfectly legal, for the government to want to know which numbers are being called by foreign-based terrorists. Eliminating a federal database of such numbers would be the “wrong way” to protect American citizens.

ROGER JOHNSON

Kensington

I would like to make a few points regarding the Bush administration’s secret telephone monitoring of tens of millions of Americans ).

This type of monitoring is inefficient. If you’re looking for a needle, making the haystack bigger doesn’t make sense. It creates a ton of false alarms. It’s a waste of time, a waste of resources, and lets the real terrorists run free. It only provides an illusion of security.

Is there a terrorist anywhere who doesn’t suspect his calls might be monitored? Especially when John Ashcroft announced, every time he upped the terrorism alert level, that they’d picked up “chatter” of something in the works. Why would a terrorist use the phone? Evil is not synonymous with stupidity.

It’s costly. Press reports say it is a “multi-billion-dollar program.” An exact cost, of course, will never be pinned down because it’s operating in the shadows. But it’s safe to assume with this administration’s track record that it’s in mind-blowing, borrowed from your great-grandchildren, funding territory.

It’s been lied about repeatedly. This fact alone should give pause to all Americans. Common sense should tell us that you only lie if you suspect you’re doing something wrong. Otherwise, come clean on the extent of the program and justify it to citizens.

Given the fact that it’s being touted as the largest database in the world, it’s highly unlikely we’re simply talking about logs of phone calls made. It’s probably not targeting just who you called and who called you. E-mails, instant messaging and text messaging are also possible data being tracked.

It’s “un-American.” This level of spying is just plain creepy, especially since there’s no oversight.

JOHN D. RAPPA JR.

Chicago

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