- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2006

Getting it right on Iraq

Thanks for the front page article interviewing Iraqi Gen. Georges Sada and your willingness to report what The Washington Post would not have the courage to do (” ‘Good news’ from northern Iraq,” Page 1, Tuesday).

It’s this kind of reporting that keeps me a loyal fan of The Washington Times. Please keep up the good work.

DAN CALLAHAN

Springfield

A ‘comprehensive’ immigration fraud

Anytime you hear someone support a “comprehensive” immigration plan, what they really mean is that they support the status quo: doing nothing (“Senate likely to pass bill on aliens,” Page 1, Wednesday). They support an all-encompassing comprehensive plan because it is large enough to have something for everyone to be against, thereby ensuring its failure.

Nothing will get done. Whether it is the left looking for a new group of voters or the right looking for cheap labor, there are just too many who don’t want change to ever get anything meaningful done.

Securing the borders is one issue and should be debated on its own. What to do with all the illegals already here is a totally separate issue to be debated. The guest-worker program, Social Security, health care, in-state or out-of-state tuition, etc., are all separate issues and should be taken up individually. A comprehensive plan, by its very nature, will depend upon watering it down to the point that no one is offended — to absurd insignificance.

JOHN BEASLEY

Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Dangerous Israeli concessions

Where is the “unthinkable” located? Is it in Iran, which if allowed to develop nuclear weapons would use them to wipe out Israel? Or is it in Israel, which conceivably could derail Iran’s nuclear weapons program and sap its nerve with a pre-emptive strike?

What can the world do, assuming it wants to prevent Armageddon — not to mention a “Shariah-based Caliphate” that Ariel Cohen sees extending throughouttheregion? (“Olmert’s folly … and fallout,” Commentary, Tuesday.) Permanently dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons program would be a start.

And how can we do that?

Not the way the world is going about it now, and certainly not through the messages Israel is sending:

Under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israel is ultimately willing to unilaterally disarm a large part of its psychological defense, namely most of its West Bank settlements. But withdrawal from these settlements should be just one link with a permanent, verifiable destruction of the weapons in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s quiver, and then his rule (not to mention a Hamas renunciation of its charter to destroy Israel). And world pressure on Iran, rather than (as currently seems the fashion) increasing levels of carrots, should be another link.

Israel is in a vice: facing Hamas and other terrorist groups bent on its destruction, while simultaneously contemplating Mr. Ahmadinejad. What is still currently the Jewish state hopes its program of “fortress Israel” will persuade evildoers to leave it alone.

And not just Israel’s existence is at stake: according to Frank Gaffney Jr., “A terrorist state on the West Bank would surely result in destabilizing and quite possibly ending Hashemite Jordan.”

How did the people who will “never forget” morph into handing out free concessions and compromising itself under deadly conditions? Exhaustion at constantly facing extermination? Wishful thinking, as in the Munich buildup to World War II, that if it makes this last concession, it will deal itself a just peace tending its own garden?

The “free” world believes too strongly that “if only” we do this, we will come to no harm. But we have to look Mr. Ahmadinejad squarely in the eyes and realize that we are in for more than appeasement while he continues to develop nuclear weapons. Why is the world so naive? Why do we engage in wishful thinking? Carrots only show our weakness and bring derision and empowerment in the Islamic Umma. We are confronting a madman with an abundance of rational thinking.

Who would have believed that the people of the Book, whose motto, perpetually threatened with annihilation, is “never again,” would even contemplate withdrawal.

ONA BUNCE

Bethesda

How government abets identity fraud

When I filed my taxes this year I was instructed by the Internal Revenue Service, as well as my state treasurer, to write my Social Security number on my check.

The check passes through many hands, of course, via the Federal Reserve’s check-clearing system. I was furious that both the federal and state governments sought to expose every taxpayer to identity theft by such a moronic policy, so I wrote my senator (John Warner), Rep. James Moran and state Del. Kenneth Plum.

So what was the response? Mr. Warner sent me a cut-and-past letter describing what a great job he was doing protecting every American’s identity. Mr. Moran never responded; presumably his daily schedule of demagoguery would not allow him time to respond to his constituents.

As for Mr. Plum, well, at least he made a serious effort. He solicited a multi-paragraph, excuse-filled letter from Kenneth W. Thorson, the state tax commissioner.

The bottom line on Mr. Thorson’s lengthy essay was that everybody does it, and they have to follow the federal government’s lead. Mr. Thorson admitted in his reply that his response probably would not satisfy me, and by the way it was not the law that I had to put my Social Security number on my check, but it was helpful to the state.

Every day I pick up the paper I get the impression that the politicians just cannot understand why there is so much frustration among the masses. Maybe after the Veterans Administration’s giveaway of 26 million Social Security numbers and dates of birth, they can begin to get a handle on the electorate’s discontent (“A massive data theft,” Editorial, Wednesday). I would advise the politicians to stop sending out those “I am looking out for you” letters. It just rubs salt in the wounds.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

The “lesson” from the theft of 26.5 million veteran’s records isn’t “[f]ollow the rules.” Rather it is that management must anticipate rule violations and design systems so that employees cannot easily download sensitive information from agency computers to anywhere else .

Since there’s hardly any legitimate reason why employees would need such sensitive data on computers other than the agency’s secure ones, the system should either never permit such downloading or, at the very least, require the authorization of several high-level officials in rare situations where it might be necessary — and then follow strict security protocols.

Such a simple step would have prevented this disastrous leak, as well as similar ones by Clinton CIA Director John Deutch, Department of Energy scientist Wen Ho Lee and others , and even more that are virtually certain to occur in the future if we don’t learn this lesson.

JOHN F. BANZHAF III

Professor of public interest law

George Washington University

Law School

Washington


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