- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why Hezbollah lost

In taking issue with my claim that two months after the end of the the Israel/Hezbollah War there is no accurate account of Hezbollah soldiers killed, Eric Rozenman actually makes my case (“Rebutting Hezbollah PR,” Letters, yesterday).

No less than four times in his brief response does the word “estimated” appear before a citation of Hezbollah killed in action. Every American reading the morning paper or watching the evening news knows precisely how many GIs we’ve lost in Iraq, and every Israeli knows exactly the losses incurred by the IDF in Lebanon.

CAMERA has built a reputation for vigilance and thoroughness in assessing the accuracy of reporting on Middle East issues, and I appreciate Mr. Rozenman’s elaboration on how Hezbollah’s secretive ways and focus on public relations spin is delivered, often to a gullible world, at the expense of the truth.

NORMAN J. KURZ

Bethesda

The truth about Bud.TV

The Washington Times claims it delivers hard-hitting, investigative reporting, but readers got only a biased viewpoint in Gregory Lopes’ article (“Actors urged to rethink Bud.TV affiliation,” Business, Saturday).

This is especially disturbing because Mr. Lopes contacted Anheuser-Busch twice while he was “investigating” his article, and we gladly provided answers to his questions. Unfortunately, he blatantly ignored our side of the story in favor of the anti-alcohol rhetoric brought forth by critic groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), whose sole purpose is to attack the alcohol industry.

Mr. Lopes conveniently left out the fact that Anheuser-Busch will, in fact, use an independent age verification check for Bud.TV, our online entertainment network that will debut in February 2007. We are in discussions with several vendors and will employ the technology that provides the best balance of accuracy in excluding minors, while not inconveniencing of-age adult visitors to the site.

Clearly, including this information would have rendered CSPI’s allegations irrelevant, as well as Mr. Lopes’ story.

In addition, readers should know the sky is not falling when it comes to underage drinking. In fact, according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, all measures of teen alcohol use have declined significantly between 1998 and 2005. Likewise, the majority of 12- to 17-year-olds (83 percent) are doing the right thing by not drinking, according to government data.

Criticizing Bud.TV is simply another publicity stunt for CSPI to gain attention for its anti-alcohol rantings. They are such neo-prohibitionists that they’ve even criticized the use of designated drivers. We suggest The Times’ reporters and editors be more thorough in their investigation and reporting of all sides of a story in the future. It’s something your readers are entitled to, and what’s more, something they should demand.

TONY PONTURO

Vice president

Global media and sports marketing

Anheuser-Busch Inc.

St. Louis

Drug interdiction

Debra J. Saunders, in her commentary, “No force border enforcement” (yesterday), urges President Bush to commute the excessive sentences of Border Patrol agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos.

The agents were tried in El Paso, Texas, which has a clear bias against the Border Patrol, and their request for a change of venue should have been granted. Unfortunately, the agents were not able to afford competent counsel, and it appears that they were victims of excessive prosecution, plus possible jury tampering.

Steps are being taken to aid the agents financially in an appeal of the unfair sentence in an obvious overreaction to what should have been merely a minor infraction of established procedures employed in interdiction of drug trafficking.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

Cluster bombs

United Nations officials have called Israel’s extensive use of cluster munitions in civilian areas in southern Lebanon “outrageous” and “immoral.” A commander of an Israeli rocket unit told a Haaretz reporter, “What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.”

The U.N. has estimated that Israel fired cluster munitions containing 2.6 to 4 million submunitions into Lebanon, leaving behind as many as 1 million hazardous duds that are still killing or injuring an average of three civilians every day.

According to the U.N., Israel blanketed much of southern Lebanon with 90 percent of those submunitions in the last three days before the cease-fire — leaving one to wonder about the self-defense value of the attacks.

Israel’s widespread use of inaccurate and unreliable cluster munitions in populated areas violated international humanitarian law, because, as one U.N. panel stated, “the use of cluster munitions was inconsistent with the principles of distinction and proportionality.”

The United States is carrying out an investigation to determine whether Israel used U.S.-supplied cluster munitions in violation of long-standing agreements.

Yet, Gerald Steinberg (“Human-rights falsehood,” Op-Ed, Monday) defends this use. Sadly, that comes as no surprise. Mr. Steinberg’s organization, NGO Monitor, has never found any criticism of Israeli conduct to be valid.

Contrary to decades of tradition under the Geneva Conventions, Mr. Steinberg seems to believe that anything is allowed in the name of self-defense, so long as a few ritual allegations of bias are thrown at those who point out the wrongdoing.

Let us hope that the Israeli government takes guidance from the requirements of international humanitarian law, and moves closer to the growing number of governments trying to address the humanitarian concerns caused by cluster munitions, rather than following the see-no-evil advice of Mr. Steinberg.

STEVE GOOSE

Arms division director

Human Rights Watch

Washington

Realities of war

I would like to thank The Washington Times for the editorials on how CNN and the New York Times cover the news (“This is CNN” and “Not so ‘Swift,’ ” yesterday). The national dailies and broadcast media lost any patriotism they may have had during the late 1960s and ‘70s. They became just as power-hungry as any politician and even more biased. They seem not to understand that they have the freedom to do what they do because of the First Amendment and, more importantly, because of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sadly, some of our so-called intellectual elites allow the New York Times and CNN to do their thinking for them.

Today we face an enemy as serious as the fascist governments of the past. We are not fighting a conventional war because our enemies know full well we would win. Instead they are fighting a worldwide guerrilla war. Why? Americans lack the patience necessary to win such wars.

I am not happy with the choices this election. Yet given the known differences between the Democratic leadership and Republicans, while not the best of choices, the latter will still get my vote for Congress.

EDWIN W. IRBY, JR.

Tallahassee, Fla.


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