- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Protecting the Constitution We live in a country that is governed by laws and a Constitution. This means not keeping people in detention camps for years without any charges against them or any legal process for determining their future.

It is hard to believe this happened in America, but a year ago, the president and Congress enacted a law that gives any president the power to decide who is and who is not an enemy of this country, and to take away the habeas corpus right to have a court determine whether the person is being detained legally or illegally.

The administration and its apologists once again seek to abdicate their responsibility to uphold the Constitution as they attempt to divert attention from their own misguided actions by accusing those who would restore the time-honored right of habeas corpus of being soft on terrorism (“A terrorist bill of rights?” Editorial, Monday).

Any political argument that begins with an assertion that members of Congress of either party who vote to restore habeas corpus are somehow in cahoots with terrorists is an argument not intended to advance a discussion of political policy. The American people will not fall for this trick again.

The question is, who gets to decide when our government puts someone behind bars? Is it our president at his own discretion? Or is there a check on that power by an independent judiciary system — the same system that has served our nation well for more than 200 years under the same basic principles that have been at the core of Western judicial systems for hundreds of years before that?

The drafters of our Constitution wisely chose to give the courts the ultimate authority to determine if a person is being held within the law.

Over the past year, American patriots including Colin Powell, David Keene (of the American Conservative Union) and Bruce Fein (who served as associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan) have supported restoring habeas corpus protections because the current kangaroo legal system in Guantanamo is diminishing our democracy and hurting our anti-terrorism efforts.

They know the truth, which is that the U.S. Constitution is our best weapon against terrorism.

CAROLINE FREDRICKSON

Director

Washington Legislative Office

American Civil Liberties Union

Washington

A democracy in progress

We commend you for your article on the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by Levon Sevunts (“Breakaway state still struggling for recognition,” World, Sunday).

The piece was balanced, fair and well-researched. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh not only voted for independence — as was their right under the then-Soviet constitution — but they also defended themselves and ultimately defeated the Azerbaijani-launched war against them.

Today, the people of Karabakh are building a democratic state based on the rule of law. In fact, the recent presidential vote was deemed free and fair by independent American observers.

Such progress proves just how much the citizens of Karabakh wish to live at peace with their neighbors and help to build a prosperous future for the entire South Caucasus region.

The international community should support Nagorno-Karabakh in these efforts and welcome the existence of a new member to the community of democratic nations.

ANTHONY BARSAMIAN

Public affairs chairman

Armenian Assembly of America

Washington

Leave Paris out of it

I’ve come to admire Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid in many ways, but his notion of returning the draconian death tax to its 2001 threshold (“Obama revises plan on tax cuts,” Page 1, Monday) has me wondering, quite frankly, if the senator is truly ready for prime time.

Bucking a growing trend among Democrats who see value in “helping farmers and small businesses keep the family livelihood after their parents had died” seems wasted on the presidential wannabe.

Eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus have seen fit to call for death-tax repeal as a collective of some 42 Democrats who get it: The death tax is unfair, unproductive, punishes savings, hurts families and is a leading cause for small business dissolution.

For 15 years, 60 Plus has been credited as the leading light to repeal this cruel tax. We have helped former Rep. Chris Cox, California Republican, and Rep. Kenny Hulshof, Missouri Republican, move repeal from two dozen sponsors in the House in 1992 to 272 in 2005 (including the aforementioned eight CBC members in the 42 Democrats for repeal) and we helped Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, move repeal from one sponsor in the Senate in 1995 to 57 in 2005, just three short of the needed 60 for full repeal.

Mr. Obama likened death-tax repeal as “The Paris Hilton Tax Break.” That’s an insult to small businesses and farmers across America. Wealthy people like Miss Hilton don’t pay the tax; they shield themselves with attorneys who set up trusts and foundations, including the Gates, Kennedy, Heinz, Rockefeller, Turner and yes, the Hilton Foundation.

JIM MARTIN

President

60 Plus Association

Arlington

Treaty could help U.S.

In his Commentary column “The U.N.’s big power grab” (yesterday), Frank Gaffney Jr. noted that my organization, Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), supports ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS).

The column raised some concerns about UNCLOS that seem misplaced.

CGS strongly believes that the UNCLOS protects the marine environment, benefits American business and helps our military. It is a set of rules for common use of the world’s oceans that bolsters our national security and protects the oceans.

The U.S. military, which relies heavily on its ability to navigate on and fly freely over the sea, has been a strong advocate of UNCLOS. In absence of treaty rights, U.S. tools for protecting its navigational rights have been limited and resource-intensive.

The president has clearly stated that joining the treaty will make our country safer. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said that “from sustaining forward deployed military forces, to ensuring the security of our ports and waters as well as advancing our most important economic and foreign policy objectives it is important that the U.S. become a Party to the Convention.”

No other country has more to gain from UNCLOS than the United States. We are supporting ratification for these reasons and are happy to place the arguments of its proponents against those of Mr. Gaffney.

RAJ PUROHIT

Interim director and senior fellow

Citizens for Global Solutions

Washington

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