Thursday, February 21, 2008

Obama’s dangerous path

In his letter “Needed: A ‘more dovish’ approach in Iraq” (Saturday), Chuck Woolery essentially endorses a policy of surrender to terrorism and the nations that support it.

This stance, also taken by Sen. Barack Obama, as indicated by the writer, would be a disaster for our fight against terrorism, as we meet without preconditions with the likes of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and President Bashir al Assad of Syria.

What would be the conclusion drawn by these leaders? Certainly they would be inclined to think we are condoning rather than condemning terrorism and that we do not have the will or stamina to confront the sponsors of terrorism.

The world made this mistake before in its appeasement of Adolf Hitler before the outbreak of World war II. Is this the same road we want to travel?


Silver Spring

It is not surprising that Chuck Woolery is a fan of Sen. Barack Obama. They use the same rhetorical tactic — platitudes that are at best half correct — but usually are ignorant of the facts with respect to the war on terror and Iraq.

Mr. Woolery says that “to win the global war of ideas, we don’t need more muscle in our foreign policy; we need more brains.” Actually, we need both: the muscle, and, to win friends and help them resume a normal life, the brains. There has been incredible success in Iraq since the surge.

The tactics used are a combination of aggressive counterinsurgency attacks against known terrorists as well as winning trust and building relationships with locals. Thus, muscle and brains are being employed quite effectively by Gen. David Petraeus.

Claiming that we bomb and waterboard any suspect is unsupported by the facts. Mr. Woolery doesn’t realize that we have waterboarded thousands of our own troops with equal vigor during their training over the past four decades. I myself was waterboarded in February 1988.

If waterboarding is torture, why would we do that to our own troops?

Mr. Woolery claims it was “dangerous and sophomoric” to go it “virtually alone on faulty intelligence and with inadequate planning.” Our reasons for going to war in Iraq were not based solely on the intelligence, but on 12 years of noncompliance with the armistice agreement resulting in 17 violations, several of which were acts of war.

Operation Iraqi Freedom was just that, and we were hardly alone: More than 50 nations lent support and direct help. We overwhelmingly defeated Saddam Hussein’s army, using fewer forces than what traditionally would be required.

As in any military operation, it had its flaws, but the ebb and flow of a tide of war has changed again, and recent successes make Mr. Woolery’s criticisms outdated.

Success came about by “staying the course” — in other words, being committed to winning, changing tactics when necessary and never losing sight of the fact that success is the only option.

To those who counter with their desire for more political progress or change: Isn’t that what we all have been clamoring for in our very own government today, 232 years after our independence?


Alexandria, Va.

A cheap shot

In his column “District a shining example of promised ‘change,’” (Metropolitan, Feb. 14) Tom Knott suggests that lazy public servants have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). I find this deeply insulting.

It shows a deep ignorance about a terrible disease that seriously disables people, myself included. Most sufferers of CFS would be lucky to be working. There is scientific evidence of very serious multisystem disturbances in CFS. Please inform yourself of the science instead of firing cheap shots at people whose lives already are ruined.


Melbourne, Australia

Positive trends on identity fraud

I am writing regarding Gregory Lopes’ article “Consumers report more fraud cases” (Business, Friday). The story suggests that Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data conflicts with other data, notably that of a survey by Javelin Strategy and Research of California, and I’d like to clarify just a couple of points in this regard.

In fact, the truth is that all of the major investigations into identity-theft rates have found a decline across the board. Notably, even the FTC’s own survey of consumers released in the fourth quarter of 2007 shows that ID theft was down 16.2 percent between 2003 and 2006. The Department of Justice also recently released a report showing that ID theft trended downward 11 percent between its first and second survey. Finally, the FTC complaints mentioned in your article are, as a percentage of all complaints filed, down 7 percent between 2004 and 2007. Thus, ID theft is a smaller percentage of all complaints filed with the FTC, and this too is a downward trend.

All of these trends are positive. Equally positive is that new-account fraud, the most damaging form of identity theft according to the FTC, is dropping significantly and may be dropping even faster than other forms of identity fraud. This means fewer consumers having serious difficulties as a result of the crime.

We believe these positive trends are a direct result of consumer education and awareness, including use of credit-file monitoring products that help consumers identify a problem while it is still easy to have it corrected, more vigorous law enforcement and more attention by the business community, including wider use of our members’ fraud-prevention and identity-verification products, which help businesses stop fraud before it happens.


President and CEO

Consumer Data Industry Association


Grinning tax increasers

The picture of Virginia Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw grinning broadly and the accompanying article on the Senate’s passage of Mr. Saslaw’s bill to raise the state’s gas tax a penny a year for the next five years would appear to be perfectly juxtaposed (“Senate passes measure to increase state gas tax,” Metropolitan, Saturday). Mr. Saslaw’s comfort with raising taxes and condescendingly dismissing it as costing families “two Big Mac meals a year” causes certain humbugs concern for the middle class.

First the state repealed the abusive-driver fees intended for highway maintenance, then it instantly came up with a tax to pay for highway maintenance. Gov. Tim Kaine has said this is not the time to be asking Virginia families to pay more in taxes. Except on gas?



Protecting America’s protectors

I don’t think anyone in his right mind can think waterboarding is not torture. However, that is not the issue. The issue is whether those charged with gathering intelligence, at any cost, will be thrown under the bus for political expediency (“Mukasey’s skillful evasions on torture,” Op-Ed, Monday).

One need not go any further than reading former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s book “Never Again” or the books written by John Yoo or Jack Goldsmith (both principals in the Office of Legal Counsel) to know that shortly after September 11, Mr. Ashcroft was instructed that this cannot happen again not “try your best,” but “never again.”

Those in the field actually gathering intelligence want assurances that another administration Obama, Clinton or even McCain in another climate would not charge them criminally. Those assurances came from the Office of Legal Counsel.

So for Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to come out now and say waterboarding is torture, and therefore illegal, he would in effect be handing down indictments on men and women who did the dirty job of protecting us from further attack. He cannot do that.


Los Angeles

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