- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2006

Rep. Frank Wolf’s extraordinary record

The Tuesday editorial “Frank Wolf, defender of human rights” said it is hard to single out one of his achievements. This is indeed the case with a hero of religious freedom and human rights such as Rep. Frank Wolf.

You failed to mention one of his most significant roles in your list of people he has helped, ranging from Tibetans to Cubans. Although you mentioned Darfur, Mr. Wolf was, long before that, the voice of the Congress on Sudan when the first phase of genocide and jihad was occurring in southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. To borrow from Barbara Mandrell, he was a “Sudan advocate when Sudan advocacy wasn’t cool.”

FAITH MCDONNELL

Director

Church Alliance for a New Sudan

Institute on Religion and Democracy

Washington

Rep. Frank Wolf’s human-rights efforts around the globe are admirable, but the editorial could just as well have praised his work with indigent people in Northern Virginia.

I first met Mr. Wolf at a town meeting in Sterling, Va., to petition his office on behalf of two Christian emergency organizations, the Good Shepherd Alliance (GSA) and the LINK Food Bank, located in Leesburg and Herndon, respectively. In 2000, LINK received the Congressional Victory Against Hunger Award after being nominated by Mr. Wolf. In 2003, Mr. Wolf assisted LINK in receiving a first-ever federal grant to replace its aging refrigerators and freezers and procure customized storage shelving and new computers for maintaining electronic records. A pilot program also was established to deliver new beds and hygiene supplies directly to the sick and handicapped in Herndon and Sterling. In 2004, Mr. Wolf’s staff attended the LINK-hosted Dialogue on Poverty Conference at Community Lutheran Church in Sterling.

In 2002, Mr. Wolf visited the GSA shelters for the homeless in Leesburg, talked with staff and residents and wrote 200 letters to the business and faith communities endorsing GSA’s mission objectives. In 2003, he assisted GSA in obtaining a federal grant used to open the first-ever homeless street-outreach drop-in center in Loudoun County. In 2004, Mr. Wolf again visited the GSA shelters in Lucketts to discuss GSA’s street-outreach and job-training services aimed at helping the growing number of working poor in our community.

In 2006, his staff helped GSA receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor designed for faith-based organizations to assist hard-to-serve populations by encouraging participants to obtain GEDs and enter skills training, apprenticeships or higher education.

Mr. Wolf raises the bar for all men and women who seek to lift the human spirit within their respective communities. God bless Mr. Wolf and his dedicated staff for sending a caring message of hope and love to the homeless and indigent people living and working in Northern Virginia.

MARK GUNDERMAN

Sterling Park, Va.

Military victory essential for peace

I am a former Army officer who recently served a yearlong tour in some of Afghanistan’s most dangerous provinces in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and I completely disagree with Marine Gen. James Jones’ recent assessment that “Afghanistan will not be resolved by military means” (“Afghans need shovels, not guns,” Page 1, Tuesday).

Let me be clear; I’m no opponent of reconstruction. My enthusiasm for development projects earned me the title of “tree-hugger 6” among the infantrymen with whom I served. However, the troops on the ground know that before you can start to rebuild southern Afghanistan, you have to beat back the flow of the Taliban pouring in from Pakistan. Nearly every time we sent a patrol to inspect a new government building or another reconstruction project, our guys ended up fighting Taliban instead.

Needless to say, we made little progress reconstructing anything during our eight months in Kandahar province.

Gen. Jones’ assessment sounds like just another effort to ignore the key reasons NATO is failing to win the fight against the Taliban: a shortage of high-quality infantrymen and Pakistan’s support of the Taliban.

Does Afghanistan need more shovels? Of course. More guns? Absolutely. But be sure also to send plenty of smart guys who know how to use them.

JAMES PERSON

Helena, Mont.

Heroism and the Air Force

The newly dedicated Air Force Memorial justly celebrates the honor, valor and devotion of our air crews and support personnel (“Wings of valor,” Op-Ed, Wednesday). Gen. T. Michael Moseley highlights the heroism of specific airmen, and we all know there are many more such stories stretching back to the World War I.

As a flight surgeon with a fighter squadron during the Vietnam War, living and flying with my mates, I came to appreciate their dedication to duty, loyalty to our country and generosity of spirit. This new memorial aptly honors all who have served and are serving in the United States Air Force.

DR. PAUL BLOUSTEIN

Cincinnati

Torture erases a legacy of judicial fairness

As former Lebanon combat veterans, my comrades and I were among the nation’s first to wage the war on terror. It is true that we paid a high price when a terrorist truck bombed our Marine barracks near the Beirut International Airport in 1983. Despite some in Congress using our incomplete mission and early pullout as a political football on what is or isn’t good peacekeeping policy, I am most proud that we all served. More true is that I, too, demand that terrorists and those who assist them all be brought to justice.

Not in a million years did I think my elected officials in Washington would hand the enemies of peace who are seeking our deaths such an obvious public-relations weapon of mass destruction. For the White House to propose suspending habeas corpus and to support U.S. employees or military personnel torturing captured detainees was one thing. The fact that Congress passed such in both Houses was another and makes my lower jaw all but fall off. No U.S. policy in our history has invited our enemies to legitimately torture our brave volunteer troops more than the Military Commission Act of 2006 (“Protect the Constitution,” Op-Ed, Monday).

In one fell, reckless swoop of the presidential pen, my president, whom I supported when he invaded Afghanistan in response to the September 11 attacks on our country, has erased our nation’s legacy of judicial fairness for those who stand accused. Nothing more undermines our country’s much envied legal checks and balances against unjust accusations, trials or convictions than the bill President Bush just signed. We didn’t need it — just as we never needed law enforcement to have permission to beat a confession out of anyone. The nation my comrades defended was always better than that.

Allowing assertions, trials, convictions and death penalties based on purported evidence or witnesses — which the accused can never access — is simply un-American. It is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction that sends a message that we don’t have what it takes to root out terrorists out and lessen their impact.

However, the America I know succeeds nearly every time when we open up and tap into the international brain pool. We did it in World War II, so there’s reason to think we couldn’t do it again.

Shame on us for not letting our collective voices of reason be heard. Shame on us for allowing a few hundred people and one outgoing president to undermine our legacy of a retained superior judicial standard. Shame is what we will feel the next time Al Jazeera broadcasts a Web video showing our enemies torturing our sons and daughters, now claiming their own legal right to do so.

A.J. CASTILLA

East Boston, Mass.

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