- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Seniors thinking ahead

The 60 Plus Association lauds the thoughtful Friday Commentary column “Oil-addiction breaker” by Rep. John Peterson. The column puts this country’s need for access to domestic supplies of natural gas into proper perspective.

It’s way past time for the United States to get serious about weaning ourselves from dependence on foreign sources of energy. It is well-known and well-documented that the United States has vast, untapped energy resources. Yet we do ourselves much harm by placing our vital interests and necessities in the hands of people from outside our borders, many in places that simply do not like us or any Western influence. This is a recipe for disaster, but we can control the course of our own destiny if we set about the business of energy self-sufficiency here in America and off our coasts.

60 Plus and its senior-citizen base strongly support additional exploration in the deep water of the outer continental shelf. Furthermore, we would like to see the moratorium that has been placed on more than 85 percent of the shelf around the lower 48 states removed or at the very least be put “in play” for eventual energy development.

The national economy, job expansion and our mobility and safety as a nation are critically dependent upon adequate supplies of natural gas and crude oil. For senior citizens, for our children and grandchildren and for future generations of Americans, the time to act is now. Seniors, especially those on fixed incomes, can ill afford higher and higher energy costs.

JIM MARTIN

President

60 Plus Association

Arlington

The FBIon the Hill

On May 20, the FBI searched Rep. William J. Jefferson’s office in the Rayburn House Office Building under a search warrant from a judge. This has outraged several members of Congress (“Office raid called unconstitutional,” Nation, May 25), but there is no requirement that the president or Congress be notified of a warrant being issued. That is why we have three branches of government; the courts in this case will be the tiebreaker. The courts will determine what items were properly seized and what were not.

On Friday, the entire Rayburn building was searched by FBI agents after a report of gunfire (“Capitol Hill ‘gunfire’ said to be construction noise,” Metropolitan, Saturday). There was no search warrant. There have been no protests, although confidential correspondence of constituents and lobbyists was even more at risk.

When representatives’ lives are in danger, they do not care if the FBI roams their offices; it is only when one of them is being investigated for a crime that some members are outraged. The FBI should have refused to send any agents on Friday. Congress has its own security force to perform that function.

CMDR. WAYNE L. JOHNSON

Judge Advocate General’s Corps

Navy (retired)

Alexandria

The reaction by House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. and other members of Congress to the FBI’s warranted search of Rep. William J. Jefferson’s office has been stunning (“Sensenbrenner calls for answers in FBI raid,” Nation, yesterday). There’s a little bribery in us all, Republicans imply. What can we do when one of us, though a Democrat, wraps the evidence of his crime in tin foil and hides it in his freezer with his food?

Their lawyers, master magicians all, create a diversion. With dazzling sleight of hand, they hide the bribery reference in the U.S. Constitution with the speech and debate clause. Forgotten is the FBI’s videotape of Mr. Jefferson taking a bribe. Visions of his wrapping the money in foil vanish — and, voila, Mr. Jefferson is no longer the criminal. With shouts of “abuse of power,” law-trained illusionists pin the guilt on President Bush, not for bribery, but for some muddled hocus-pocus about separation of powers.

To their everlasting credit, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III threatened to resign if forced to return material evidence taken from Mr. Jefferson’s office. Thank God for those clear-eyed men with spines of steel who refused to cooperate in the coverup requested by Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. It’s time to cut the carnival act and let the Department of Justice do its job of pursuing people suspected of breaking the law. Members of Congress can engage in speechifying, debating and legislating, but if they think they are above the law, they are delusional. The American people, with a snap of their voting fingers, may well bring some politicians to their senses this fall.

BEVERLY KROEGER

Springfield

As a “former Marine…and deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force,” Jack Kelly must have sworn once to uphold and defend the Constitution. Does “former” mean he no longer must uphold that pledge? (“Corruption closes ranks,” Commentary, yesterday)

The simple reason so many House Republicans and respected Republican constitutional scholars have come out against the Bush administration’s raid on a Democrat’s congressional office has nothing to do with the possible corruption some of those elected officials may be trying to hide.

Their justified outrage is over the clear violation of the U.S. Constitution that occurred when documents of the “people’s” lawmaking branch of government was confiscated by the executive and judicial branches. Our Founding Fathers’ inclusion of lawmakers’ protection in the Constitution stemmed from their experience in watching the king of England use such tactics on the British Parliament to maintain and expand his abusive powers and to weaken any attempts by Parliament to make laws with which he disagreed.

This current unprecedented violation of the separation of powers threatens the very foundation of our federal government. Mr. Bush was wise to seal the documents because any search for criminal records could not be obtained without also reading important lawmaking plans and strategies that certainly would be among them.

Given all the evidence of Rep. William J. Jefferson’s guilt, there was no need for this invasion of congressional privacy. Such abuse logically leads to some speculation of administrative foul play though it may not exist. But given other arrogant abuses by the Bush administration regarding other constitutional powers, any new speculations are certainly justified.

The only proper solution to this fiasco would be the immediate return of all of Mr. Jefferson’s congressional office documents and the resignation of those administration and judicial officials responsible for this serious breach in law and the trust of the American people’s branch of government.

Mr. Kelly has righteous and important grounds in calling for change in “our system of campaign finance,” but he really needs to refresh his views on defending the Constitution and the basis of trust within our federal system — the separation of powers.

CHUCK WOOLERY

Rockville, Md.

60 million and counting

In his Sunday column, Daniel Gallington states that “More than 60 million people in America voted in the ‘American Idol’ final — more than in any U.S. presidential election” (” ‘American Idol’ for president?” Commentary). A quick check of my almanac shows that more more than 60 million votes have been cast in every presidential election since 1952. In the last two contests, over 100 million votes were cast. President Bush alone got almost 60 million votes. In addition, it’s probably not the case that over 60 million people voted in the “American Idol” final. All we know is that over 60 million votes were cast. Many of those voters were voting multiple times. Finally, “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest did not say that more votes were cast than were cast in any presidential election. Instead, he said that more votes were cast than have been cast for any presidential candidate. That statement is correct.

JAMES E. MADDUX

Washington

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