- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2007

Privacy and the mentally disabled

In “Nobles and Knaves” (Editorial, Saturday), Virginia Tech officials were blasted for not doing more to prevent the massacre on April 16. As a mental health professional, I am outraged. Virginia Tech and the greater mental health community did as much as they were allowed to do within the confines of the law. The laws that govern the mental health community are not created by that community but by the government and a society that are terrified of breaches in privacy or infringing rights.

This deranged killer had contact with the system in 2005, 16 months before this incident. The laws and the system we have created prohibit us from permanently committing him simply because he was once hospitalized in a psychiatric unit. This is not unlike the shootings at the Sully Police Station by a mentally disturbed young man. People questioned why he was allowed back into the community, but it was because of the laws our society has created that granted him that right.

Let’s not forget that only one person is to blame for this massacre: Seung-hui Cho. Anger and projection are natural responses to grief, but do not let it overshadow the issue at hand. Much good has come out of this situation, and more can come if we can more closely examine the laws that govern our lives and our safety.

A. ALTMAN

Falls Church

A terrific cartoon

Bill Garner’s editorial cartoon on Thursday was terrific. I had been thinking that as our country mourned the victims killed at Virginia Tech, the cut-and-run Democrats are quite willing to let thousands of our bravest young men and women die in Iraq because they won’t give funding for the war. The nation needs to note this as well as the loss of those at Virginia Tech.

YVONNE LAW

Ashburn, Va.

Why no attacks since September 11?

By their words and actions, liberals have made it clear they would prefer the defeat and humiliation of their own country over President Bush getting credit for success in Iraq. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s latest pronouncement of defeat is simply further evidence that partisan politics trumps patriotism (“Reid says Bush told Iraq war lost cause,” Page 1, Friday).

Are Mr. Reid and the rest of his “defeat at any cost” colleagues ready to accept the probable result of our defeat?

For some time I have wondered why there have been no terrorist incidents in the United States since September 11. Although the FBI and CIA have achieved several laudable successes in interdicting terrorist plots aimed at our homeland, it is unrealistic to think they can achieve 100 percent success. We can also discount the idea that al Qaeda lacks the resources to plan and execute attacks within the United States. If poor illegal aliens can successfully cross our border, so can highly motivated, financed and equipped terrorists. Can anyone believe that a suicide bomber in a mall is beyond al Qaeda’s capability? So, why no incidents?

The decision of Mr. Bush to invade Afghanistan and Iraq after September 11 completely changed the dynamics of the conflict. The terrorists expected a response similar to the ineffective actions of the Clinton administration. Instead, Mr. Bush changed the focus of operations from the continental United States to Muslim homelands.

I believe that the al Qaeda leadership realized that if they were defeated in their homelands their ability to wage a successful war of terror in the United States would be almost fatally compromised. They therefore focused all of their planning, resources and manpower on the overarching need to defeat America in Muslim lands. The absence of terrorist incidents in the United States is completely consistent with that objective.

The al Qaeda leadership understands that they cannot defeat America on the battlefield. They also understand that America can be influenced to accept defeat in the fallacious belief that defeat will have little consequence in the homeland. All they have to do is to avoid decisive combat while conducting frequent homicide operations to provide the liberal media with a picture of the apparent futility of the continued expenditure of American lives and treasure. They understand that with few exceptions, news of American successes in Iraq will be underreported or ignored by the liberal media.

They fully realize that terrorism in the United States would be counterproductive to the goal of assisting those who would cut and run. Terrorism in our homeland would almost surely reinvigorate and strengthen demands for even more vigorous and far-reaching actions in Muslim homelands to prevent those attacks.

They realize that the sight of dead and wounded Americans day after day in the visual and print media could be expected to gain Mr. Bush significant support for taking action to prevent Iran and Syria from supporting al Qaeda.

The flipside to all of this is that we can expect the renewal of terrorism in the United States within weeks or months of our defeat in Iraq. If this happens the blood of our people will be clearly on the hands of Harry Reid and his fellow “defeat at any cost” liberals.

ROBERT A. WOLPERT

Fairfax

The real education scandal

The backlash against school vouchers is a prime example of the concentration of power by one group to the detriment of another (“Paging Gov. Strickland,” Editorial, yesterday).

Inner-city schools have been a developing scandal that paralleled the increasing socialization of U.S. education and the rise of the teachers’ union. Outwardly the union professes to provide increased benefits to its members, albeit to the exclusion of its nonmembers and apparently to the students. The governmental and political controllers of the education system profess equal opportunity and standardization. It is all a scam, of course, and it was exposed by Milton Friedman a long time ago.

The teachers’ unions resist change and demand ever-increasing amounts of money that dwarf anything absorbed by the average private parochial school. The main effect of government socialization and control has been a lower return for each education dollar spent. But do not expect a change anytime soon. The people who are victimized are far less capable than the groups doing the victimizing.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

‘The government can’t always protect us’

Seung-hui Cho, the deranged criminal killer who massacred 32 defenseless, law-abiding students and staff members at Virginia Tech, could very possibly have been stopped from killing so many people. A single trained student or faculty member with a legal concealed carry permit might have been able to significantly limit the number of victims falling to Cho’s rage.

Virginia Tech’s “gun-free zone” failed to prevent Cho’s murderous rampage. It is time to allow all law-abiding citizens the ability to protect themselves. As the Virginia Tech murders clearly prove, the government cannot always protect us. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s decision to deny its citizens at Virginia Tech the essential right to protect themselves has led to the deaths of 32 innocent people.

DAVID LEE

Woodbridge, Va.

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