- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 2, 2006

Updating FISA

James Jay Carafano is simply not telling the truth in his column “The wisdom of wiretaps,” (Commentary, Wednesday). Mr. Carafano claims that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act “is inadequate and must be updated.” We’ve heard this argument from Mr. Carafano before on this page: he, along with K.A. Taipale, stated that FISA was “no longer adequate” (“Fixing surveillance,” Commentary, Jan. 25). In response to some of the points raised by Mr. Carafano and others in January, Congress decided to update FISA last March. In fact, FISA has been updated six times since September 11, and the administration never took those opportunities to ask Congress for the far-reaching powers that it instead decided to simply claim for itself.

Now, all the president’s men are up in arms about FISA, and claim that we need to legislate the ability to wiretap without a warrant in an emergency abound. However, FISA already gives that power to the president, provided that a warrant is obtained within three days, a reasonable amount of time to seek judicial approval. Furthermore, the legislation that would ostensibly fix FISA, the Cheney-Specter bill (S. 2453) actually deletes the provisions that says FISA applies in wartime, thereby giving the administration a blank check to wiretap without a warrant. Considering that a major impetus in originally passing FISA in 1978 was to prevent the White House from abusing intelligence resources as in the Watergate scandal, deleting these provisions actually destroys the original purpose of the law.

We don’t need more updates to FISA. Instead, we need the President to vigorously enforce the law already on the books, within the bounds set by the Constitution.



A fine piece of journalism

I am writing in reference to the article by Kelly Hearn titled “U.S. charity for Chavez” (Page 1, Aug. 20). It is the best example of investigative journalism I have seen in years. It was a thorough and informative article that tends to be engaging, yet not overly analytical.

Unfortunately, there is a trend among journalists today to break down statements in easily understandable segments for readers. Such tactics do not help, but actually insult the reader. I am an adult that does not need to be coddled. Furthermore, I am smart enough to understand what I just read and can do independent research to answer any questions that may arise.

Miss Hearn’s article avoided analytical pitfalls so many journalists are guilty of today. She provided the reader with good, old-fashioned investigative journalism that offers facts, with little commentary. Readers have the opportunity to form an objective opinion based on the facts presented. Miss Hearn’s article is a refreshing change in today’s press. I look forward to reading more “above the fold” articles by Kelly Hearn.


Vinton, Va.

The dangers of hunting

In response to the article “Sunday hunting not about fees” (Sports, Wednesday), I wanted to state that I am a Virginia resident and I oppose Sunday hunting for reasons unrelated to church-going or rest.

Like many Virginians, I go on long hikes and trail runs on Sundays and my leashed dog and I would prefer not to be shot and killed. Gene Mueller downplays the public safety risks of hunting, but there have been several fatal accidents recently in the Commonwealth, including the death of a 7-year-old boy. Since most hunters and non-hunters alike have the weekend off, it is fair and moderate to let non-hunters enjoy one day where they can recreate with piece of mind and without having to outfit their families with bulletproof vests on a hike.



Plundering Africa

Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, deserves high marks for criticizing corruption and tribal nepotism in sub-Saharan Africa (“Obama chides Africa on visit,” page 1, Tuesday). Unlike many American politicians, he did not tread lightly on Africa’s problems.

Speaking in Kenya, he urged African politicians to acknowledge that the massive AIDS epidemic, from which millions of innocent people suffer, is a function of rampant promiscuity. He criticized his host, President Thabo Mbeki, for falling to criticize President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who has virtually destroyed the economy and democratic institutions of perhaps the most promising postcolonial African country.

In an earlier time, a megalomaniac Joseph Mobutu plundered the Congo of $5 billion. Idi Amin of Uganda slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own people.

Unlike some American politicians, who tend to apologize for the venality and corruption of African leaders, Mr. Obama told it like it is.

Early on, Archbishop Desmond Tutu acknowledged the sad state of postcolonial Africa: “God’s children in Africa suffer because there is less freedom in their countries than during colonial times…there is totalitarianism and despotism nearly everywhere.”

Hope lies in the honest recognition of African problems by Africans themselves and by Americans who seek to help them.


Chevy Chase

Islamofascist in the Cathedral

The editorial, “Enemy in the Cathedral”(Thursday)is thoughtful but misses the significance of former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s upcoming visit to the National Cathedral.

The Islamofascist world of Mr. Khatami views Christians (and all other non-Muslims) as infidels worthy of indiscriminate killing. It is therefore astonishing that Mr. Khatami would visit and speak at a Christian place of worship at all, let alone one of such prominence in American life.



Politics in action

As a native Kansan, Iam ratherupset thatneither Gary Andres, in his recent Op-Ed, nor Thomas Frank, author of hisbest seller, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” which was published several years ago,givecredit toWilliam Allen White,who in 1896 originated this title for an editorial inhis small-town Kansas newspaper, The Emporia Gazette (“What’s the matter with Kansas?” Thursday).

Mr. White’s editorial skyrocketed “The Sage of Emporia” to nationalfame,and won himthePulitzer Prizeas best editorial of the year.

The world beat a path to his cluttered desk. Mr. White advised presidents and governors, and talked to the great and near-great of the political world. As a related personal aside, I had the rareopportunity, as a high-school student, to obtain autographs and meetMr. Whiteone hotJuly day in 1936.The occasion was ameeting on the porch of the governor’s mansion in Topeka, when Pennsylvania Gov. Gifford Pinchot, along with Mr. White,was visiting Gov. AlfLandon, whom had just been nominated to run against President Roosevelt.

I remember that I wasrather taken back when, after Mr. Landon had responded to an environmental question posed by Mr. Pinchot,Mr. White politely interrupted with, “I believe that what the governor intended to say was….”

This was my first taste of politics in action.


Topeka, Kan.

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