- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In defense of JAG

The Sept. 15 item “JAG proliferation” (Inside the Ring) begins with an incorrect premise and then accuses Defense Department attorneys of putting self-interest above national security.

The judge advocates general of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the staff judge advocate to the commandant of the Marine Corps are honorable, professional, intelligent and patriotic men. They are the senior uniformed legal advisers for their respective services and together with their civilian colleagues must wrestle with some of the most profound and difficult issues in our history during a time of war. I am astonished that their integrity would be impugned in such a manner.

BRYAN G. WHITMAN

Deputy assistant secretary

Public affairs

Office of the assistant secretary

Defense Department

Washington

How-to on hawking books

Several news stories last week demonstrated that at least two world leaders know how to sell books big time. One used the United Nations as a backdrop and President Bush as the target. The other used a White House press conference with Mr. Bush as an ally. One was grotesque and the other amusing.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, with his phony beatific smile, called Mr. Bush “the devil.” Mr. Chavez repeatedly authenticated his revolutionary rhetoric by holding aloft Noam Chomsky’s screed “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance” (“Better than Oprah,” Inside Politics, Friday).

As reported, Mr. Chavez’s antics succeeded. “Within 48 hours, the book leapt to the top of the Amazon best-seller list, climbing from 220,664th place to No. 4.” Like lemmings, leftists and the ignorant leapt into a lake of limpid gastropods.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s unabashed effort to promote his memoirs was less spectacular (“Bush, Musharraf vow to get bin Laden,” Page 1, Saturday. With Mr. Bush at his side, the Pakistani leader was determined to deflect questions on whether an American diplomat — Richard Armitage — had used threatening words to ensure his cooperation in the American-led war on terror.

Smiling broadly, he said the episode is addressed in his memoirs. “I am launching my book on the 25th and am honor-bound to Simon & Schuster not to comment on the book before that date.”

His reply drew a hearty guffaw from the savvy White House press corps. Since when would the head of a nuclear-armed U.S. ally defer to the wishes of a New York publisher?

Ethics and diplomacy aside, these two ideologically opposed books promoted by two ideologically opposed men are enjoying robust sales because of the men’s clever antics.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Chevy Chase

Clintons going solo?

After former President Bill Clinton’s lengthy tirade on Fox News Sunday in which he vainly defended his position on Osama bin Laden during his first-ever interview on the Rupert Murdoch-owned conservative network, it’s apparent that he will never be asked tough questions by Fox again (“Clinton defends pre-9/11 actions,” Nation, Monday) .

That’s a pity, because I have a tough question for Mr. Clinton that I’m sure would get him equally agitated.

I have been privately tracking both Mr. Clinton’s and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s public statements for several years now, and they haven’t been shy about criticizing President Bush on a variety of domestic and foreign policy issues.

Amazingly, however, neither of them has ever joined the “Bush lied” (about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction) chorus being led by the left wing of the Democratic Party and promoted repeatedly in 2004 by eight of the nine Democratic presidential candidates. (Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, was the exception.)

Now, how is it that the two most prominent and vocal Democrats in the world have isolated themselves from this hot-button issue that their entire party has pounced all over?

My question to Mr. Clinton is: How come you and your wife have never joined the “Bush lied” chorus?

Being the man who ordered a prolonged 1998-99 missile strike against Saddam Hussein, citing his weapons of mass destruction programs, could it be that Mr. Clinton had firsthand knowledge that this “Bush lied” propaganda is just that — pure political propaganda — and that, indeed, Saddam Hussein, the guiltiest man in the world, is guilty of this charge as well?

If he doesn’t believe in his peers’ charge that Mr. Bush lied, how come he has never spoken up about it? How could he just sit there while his party falsely accuses a sitting president on a bogus issue — damaging the credibility of the office during wartime?

In his near-aborted Fox interview, Mr. Clinton claimed that he wanted to “do the right thing” regarding bin Laden. How does a man who claims he wants to “do the right thing” not do the right thing by abandoning the president, by not standing shoulder to shoulder with him when he knows the president is being falsely accused?

EUGENE R. DUNN

Medford, N.Y.

Showcasing Washington

I was very glad that Joanna Shaw-Eagle gave the Washington Arts Museum’s Manon Cleary retrospective at Edison Place Gallery such an extensive and largely positive review (“Manon Cleary,” Arts & Culture, Saturday). What I think was lost in her conclusion that more attention needs to be paid to Washington artists by the big museums in town is the significance of the role that the Washington Arts Museum (WAM) has played in trying to rectify the situation.

As noted, WAM is underfunded and relegated to the museum-world periphery as an alternative arts organization. However, since its founding in 1999, WAM has mounted nine group and solo exhibitions of the work of important Washington artists, produced color catalogs and editions of prints of paintings from each solo show, organized panel discussions on Washington art and started an oral archive. WAM has used a variety of venues, but Pepco’s Edison Place Gallery has been a particularly successful one, in both its location and facility. If it weren’t for WAM, an artist of Miss Cleary’s formidable talent and significance to Washington art might never get the exposure she clearly is due.

ELIZABETH TEBOW

Silver Spring

Bill drops a dud

Not too many days ago, pundits were still predicting a runaway election with both houses going back to the Democrats — unless there was “an October surprise.” Well it came, albeit a few days early. When former President Bill Clinton dropped what he thought was to be a bomb on Fox News, he assumed that would improve Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chance in her 2008 Oval Office campaign.

More important, it was meant to salvage his tainted legacy with respect to national security (“GOP’s uptick just in time for Election Day,” Page 1, Tuesday).

Unfortunately, Mr. Clinton’s bomb turned out to be a dud, bringing voters’ attention back to the eight years of his legalized inaction against Osama bin Laden and his terrorists.

BILL SMITH

Topeka, Kan.

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