- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 28, 2006

Railroad security

Kevin Lynch is badly mistaken in his critique of security along the U.S. rail network (“Another post-September 11 reality,” Op-Ed, Thursday).

In fact, the railroad industry — on its own initiative and at its own expense — moved rapidly after September 11 to develop and implement a comprehensive security plan. That plan — developed with the aid of outside security and terrorism experts — has been widely praised as a model for private industry.

The industry’s security plan is based on a thorough risk analysis and includes more than 50 permanent changes in the way business is conducted. In addition, it includes more than 100 specific countermeasures taken at different alert levels.

Because of the vastness of the U.S. rail network — 140,000 miles, not 200,000 as claimed by Mr. Lynch — the rail industry’s security plans rely heavily on intelligence information gathered by the nation’s security agencies. Knowledgeable railroad analysts work side-by-side with government intelligence analysts at the National Joint Terrorism Task Force and at the Department of Homeland Security to help evaluate intelligence at the Top Secret level.

The industry also established a 24/7 Operations Center in the wake of September 11 that is in continuous contact with the intelligence community and the individual railroad operations centers.

Railroads also took the lead in creating the Surface Transportation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ST-ISAC) for protecting critical infrastructure; the ST-ISAC collects, analyzes and distributes critical security and threat information from worldwide resources to protect its members’ vital information and information technology systems from attack

Many rail facilities are also protected by motion sensors and closed-circuit cameras. Beyond this, railroads work closely with local and state law-enforcement agencies to provide additional measures of security at rail facilities around the country.

Fences have never been known to stop a terrorist. Indeed, vandals cut holes in fences along rail lines as fast as they are erected. The measures railroads have taken are far more substantive and effective than fencing.

EDWARD R. HAMBERGER

President and CEO

Association of American Railroads

Washington

No bin Laden litmus test

Ex-CIA agent Michael Scheuer, whose analysis I respect, is wrong about bin Laden and Iraq. Who cares if bin Laden will be happy when we pull out of Iraq? Should the new litmus test of every U.S. foreign policy decision be, “Will this make bin Laden happy, or sad?” Of course not.

Al Qaeda is a small part of the problem in Iraq. Iraqis are the real problem in Iraq. It’s not al Qaeda organizing dozens of attacks every day on Iraqis; it is rival Iraqi sects and clans who want control over Iraq.

If bin Laden wants to claim credit for a U.S. pullout, let him try. I don’t think Arabs and Muslims will buy it. After all, they’ve been paying much closer attention to events in Iraq than we have. They know the score.

This is not to dismiss the marginal PR value of a U.S. pullout for al Qaeda and Iran.

That’s why we should have used some bellweather event — like the signing of the Iraqi constitution, or the parliamentary elections — as our moment to declare victory and exit stage left. We missed those chances. But if we’re smart, we can still arrange another “milestone” to declare victory, leave and save some face.

Finally, to shut up bin Laden after we leave Iraq, we should transfer a few thousand U.S. troopsfromIraqinto Afghanistan, bin Laden’s adopted country.

JEFF LUEBBE

Zagreb, Croatia

Condemning cluster bombs

In response to Steve Goose, arms division director of Human Rights Watch (“Cluster bombs,” Letters, Wednesday): Mr. Goose prefaces his assertions with “United Nations officials have called”; “The U.N. has estimated” and “According to the U.N.”

Since when are condemnations from the hopelessly biased United Nations worth even repeating, let alone quoting as apparent fact? No one else believes much that the United Nations has to say, particularly where Israel is involved.

Most will probably agree that cluster munitions, like land mines, are extremely cruel, if only for their nondiscriminatory nature. However, if I were in the closing days of a war such as was fought between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hezbollah, I would want to retard the reoccupation of south Lebanon any way I could, and sowing the ground with cluster munitions would buy some time. Not defensible, I agree, but understandable.

I suggest that in all fairness, since fair is the operative word in liberal circles, Mr. Goose condemn the offending aggressors in the conflict as much as he obviously condemns Israel.

C.F. KIGER

Westminster, Md.

New technology to preserve striped bass

I write in response to Gene Mueller’s column “Maryland DNR exception is outrage,” (Sports, Wednesday). Rather than vilify the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and FLW Outdoors for allowing culling during an upcoming fishing tournament, Mr. Mueller should welcome the exploration of new technology to preserve striped bass.

All FLW Striper Series tournament anglers are required to use new keep-alive boxes developed by FLW Outdoors and KeepAlive Systems. The boxes, in conjunction with a self-imposed 28- to 34-inch slot limit, allow all FLW Outdoors striper tournaments to be catch-and-release events, thus helping to protect the nation’s striped-bass population and ensure a vibrant fishery.

These efforts to protect the resource stand in contrast to many other recreational and commercial endeavors in which large, mature stripers are harvested. They should be applauded, or at the very least evaluated on their merits, not dismissed as folly.

FLW Outdoors has successfully organized five striper tournaments this year in nearby states (New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey) in which striped bass were successfully culled using the KeepAlive system. To date, FLW Striper Series tournaments boast a 98 percent live-release rate, and independent studies of similar live-release systems show comparable results.

Upon sharing this information with the Maryland DNR, confirming it with their DNR counterparts in other states hosting FLW Outdoors events and contemplating other factors including water temperature and time of year, the Maryland DNR agreed to allow culling during the Nov. 4 event.

The one-time permit for our tournament isn’t about for-profit favoritism, but about careful examination of technology that can help ensure the future of a terrific striped-bass fishery for generations of Marylanders.

CHARLIE EVANS

President and CEO

FLW Outdoors

Benton, Ky.

EPA responsibility

I read with great amusement Michael Fumento’s Wednesday Commentary column, “Power mower power grab.” However, Mr. Fumento dramatically overestimates my influence on the recent actions of the Environmental Protection Agency.

I left office nearly six years ago. Although my advice is always available to those who want it, the Bush administration has shown little interest.

The EPA of today is responsible for its own actions, and credit and blame should be allocated accordingly.

CAROL BROWNER

Former EPA administrator

Principal

Albright Group

Washington


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