- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2007

Understanding ‘24’

Leave it to the Emmy-award winning TV show “24” to get the left upset about violent programming on network television (“FCC targets violence on TV, Page 1, Friday). For years, conservatives have complained about the amount of violence on television, only to hear lectures on censorship and First Amendment freedoms.

What has so upset the left is that the show’s protagonist, Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), has a penchant for using torture to extract information from the bad guys who are intent on killing as many Americans as a 60-minute episode will allow. Instead of a politically correct script that might feature a missile-toting faction of the AARP bent on destruction, the Fox network hit is a favorite because the producers have given us villains who look and speak like real bad guys — and often the bad guys are Middle Eastern men. Presumably left-wing groups such as Human Rights First are concerned that our troops in Iraq will watch “24” and use Jack Bauer’s unorthodox techniques on the insurgents in Baghdad.

Leaving aside the question of why it took a program like “24” to bring the left on board finally in the fight against violence, conservatives nonetheless will throw out the welcome mat for their newfound allies — even if one of their favorite television shows is neutered as a result. But why stop at violence? Sex continues to pour into our homes every night, and the battle against indecency is really a two-pronged struggle. So why not join conservatives in the fight against all the gratuitous sex that is saturating the airwaves?


Mount Vernon, Va.

Wrong message to the Border Patrol

The article “U.S. ‘rewarded’ alien for his testimony,” (Page 1, yesterday) brings to mind the case of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, who were convicted after the testimony of a drug smuggler who was given immunity.

One does not have to be a conspiracy buff to see that the government seems to be sending a message to Border Patrol agents that if they aggressively pursue drug smugglers, they are in jeopardy of being put to the same fate as those who have been convicted unjustly.

In the case of Ramos and Compean, a transcript of their trial seems to indicate a very biased conviction, which was based on questionable tactics by the prosecution, plus untruthful testimony and obfuscated evidence.

The real question is why government officials are involved in highly questionable actions that seem to be favorable to those engaged in illegal activities along the border and smacks of possible bribery by the Mexican drug cartels.


San Diego

Morocco and the Western Sahara

Saturday’s Page One story about an attempted hijacking of a Mauritanian airliner describes the would-be hijacker as a “Moroccan from the Western Sahara.” There’s a story behind that (“Airline pilot hailed as hero for foiling armed hijacker”).

When the Moroccans realized they couldn’t win the 1994 referendum (which I ran), they decided to prevent the referendum from taking place and began sending thousands of Moroccans into Western Sahara, which they had invaded in 1975 and still control. The idea was that when they had accumulated enough ringers to sway the vote, they would let the referendum take place.

The real Western Saharans (Saharawis) are nomads who speak a distinct version of Arabic called Hasania. The Moroccan ringers could not master it, and what happened next was almost biblical. There were certain Hasanian words the Moroccans could not pronounce.

In Judges 12:6, Jephthah used the word shibboleth (ear of corn) to distinguish fleeing Ephraimites, who could not pronounce it, from his own men, the Gileadites. That led to the Ephraimites’ being identified as the enemy. To avoid a similar fate, being discovered as interlopers, the Moroccans set up language schools to instruct the Moroccan ringers in the niceties of Hasania. Of course, it didn’t work. Word got out about the schools, and the Moroccans had to shut them down.

The United Nations, of course, took no action, and the United States simply looks the other way as Morocco continues its land grab of Western Sahara.


Former U.S. ambassador


JetBlue and public safety

Yesterday’s Business section ran an article titled “JetBlue scraps 139 flights.” Noting that JetBlue passengers were sent scrambling as the carrier canceled 139 of 600 flights scheduled on Presidents Day because of a severe winter snowstorm, The Washington Times provided an explanation.

Cancellations were needed to make sure all flight crews had gotten the legally mandated amount of rest. Crew fatigue is often recognized as a contributor to aviation accidents, but it usually is never a direct or “active” cause, as are, for example, descending below minimum required altitudes or controlled flight into terrain.

Fatigue is often noted as a “latent” cause because it attacks or eliminates the system of defenses, including crew alertness. In other words, it disturbs the systems of checks and balances that turn aviation, an inherently risky activity, into a safe one.

While a large number of passengers were left in the lurch, they will all have the opportunity to fly again at least with respect to JetBlue’s actions. I am more inclined to fly JetBlue in the future after reading this article because I know that JetBlue puts safety first.


Upper Marlboro

Pelosi’s hypocrisy

Congratulations for calling attention to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hypocrisy in naming William Jefferson to the Homeland Security Committee after pledging to clean up Congress (“Nobles and Knaves,” Editorial, Saturday).

It is not surprising that Mrs. Pelosi waited for enough time to pass that people stopped paying attention to the ethics problems in the same way that they had watched immediately after the elections. It’s also not surprising that the appointment comes when everyone’s attention is focused on the nonbinding resolution against the troop surge.

Well-played, Mrs. Pelosi, but someone was paying attention.


Hummelstown, Pa.

Handicapping our soldiers

Cal Thomas,in describing a letter to him from a “soldier friend” serving in Iraq, has provided a service, and, perhaps, some valuable reporting (“A letter from Mosul,” Commentary, Wednesday). If I judge the temper of both Mr. Thomas and his friend correctly, I and other Americans should be similarly angered.

It is disgraceful and disgusting when a young serviceman, on his second tour of duty in a war that is in its fourth year, feels bound to complain on behalf of himself and others serving there that “It is our overwhelming opinion that we have not been allowed to conduct the war to the fullest of our capability.”

Let’s see if the Democratic majority in Congress will put the disclosures of Mr. Thomas’ column on their list of high-priority investigations of the Pentagon and the Bush administration.



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