Monday, June 6, 2005

Parents, not outsiders

Your article “Montgomery parents seek more say on sex education” (Metropolitan, Sunday) ends with a disturbing comment by the only Republican on the board: that the new curriculum will be constructed “within the professional component of the system, instead of as a negotiation between outside groups.”

The parents who are members of the Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum (CRC) should be outraged to be classified as one of the “outside groups.” The resolution from the county Board of Education states that the school system will “retain the sole right and responsibility for determining the content of all curriculum.” Didn’t the board hear the successful “we demand to be heard” cry the first time around? Are not parents part of the school system?

The CRC should be so concerned that their long-term solution should be to change the “lone Republican” on the school board to ensure that “outside groups” are continually represented with the proud title of “parent.”


Severna Park, Md.

Reject CAFTA

The latest editorial in support of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (“Approve CAFTA,” Friday), reads more like an appeal for expanding our foreign aid to the region than approving a trade deal.

Citing the long history of events and Central American turmoil dating back to the 1950s, The Washington Times argues that Congress should approve CAFTA “to help solidify the fragile foundations of democracy and the rule of law.” No doubt this is a noble cause, but why should American businesses, most notably the sugar industry, have to face extinction to accomplish it?

CAFTA should be rejected on the basis that it will hurt our domestic sugar industry and add to our enormous trade deficit. We are already sending more than $900 million of foreign aid to Latin America and the Caribbean. If more is needed, then this administration should reorder its foreign-aid spending priorities. But to enact another free trade deal that will be a drag on our domestic economy is simply the wrong solution. CAFTA should be rejected.


North Olmsted, Ohio

History will judge Deep Throat favorably

In his Friday Op-Ed column on W. Mark Felt, the former acting associate director of the FBI who revealed himself as “Deep Throat,” Gary Aldrich states that Mr. Felt “broke numerous federal laws” (” ‘Deep Throat’ uncut”). The rules of the FBI and the Department of Justice may have been broken, but my question for Mr. Aldrich is, what laws were broken?

It would not appear to be the obstruction of justice statute, 18 U.S.C. 1503, which requires that the defendant must have intentionally endeavored corruptly to influence, obstruct or impede pending proceedings by threats or force.

Is there any evidence that Mr. Felt — whether motivated by anger at being passed over for director, hatred for President Nixon and his aides or nobler sentiments such as protecting the FBI — used force or threats to corruptly influence, obstruct or impede the grand jury? How about the Privacy Act? Oh, that’s right, it didn’t exist at the time.

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e)? Does Mr. Aldrich have evidence that what was disclosed was, in fact, grand jury material as defined in the law? I suspect he does not.

As for Mr. Felt’s avoiding scrutiny and cross-examinationover whatever he provided to The Washington Post, certainly, to the extent that it appeared in The Post, the administration had ample opportunity and means to challenge it. The fact is, Mr. Nixon and his aides sought to mislead the FBI, undermine the FBI investigation and otherwise manipulate the FBI to its advantage in an effort to cover up their crimes.

Like Mr. Aldrich, I am a retired FBI special agent, having served 25 wonderful years, and I have no great love for leakers. However, Mr. Felt was faced with an extraordinary situation and events. He faced extraordinary abuses of power at the highest levels of government. Whom should he have consulted?

L. Patrick Gray, the acting director, whom Mr. Aldrich says trusted that Mr. Felt was busy working for the FBI, was busy himself destroying documents and providing unlimited access to all of the FBI’s investigative results to the White House counsel, who was later convicted for his part in the cover-up.

Mr. Gray’s actions certainly did not help the FBI’s reputation or standing with the American public. Who else was there? John Mitchell? Richard Kleindienst? Not likely. Mr. Felt was caught in a difficult situation and chose what he probably believed was the best of all the lousy options available to him to get out the truth.

It is incredible to say that by talking to reporter Bob Woodward of The Post, Mr. Felt was “feathering his own nest” while Mr. Nixon and his aides, who were busy breaking the law, were not. Weren’t they trying to save their own jobs, their own necks and their own future financial opportunities? For all these 30-plus years, Mr. Felt did not exploit what he did for financial gain. It was the reporters who got rich.

Mr. Felt will have to live with what he did, and history, not Mr. Aldrich, will return the verdict on his actions. I believe, considering all the extraordinary circumstances, that the verdict of history will be favorable.


FBI Special agent, 1975-2000

Chief counsel, 1987-2000

FBI, New York division

New York

An ‘honest living’?

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is so absurd as to be laughable. His ranting about Republicans not making an “honest living” was reminiscent of his display after he lost the primary (“Dean hits GOP on ‘honest living,’ ” Friday, Page 1). It was a particularly interesting comment given that Mr. Dean is a professional politician, many of whom stop making an honest living the day they enter politics.

It is a poor commentary on the American political scene when the mouth of the best the Democrats have to offer for their leadership does not seem to be connected to his brain. With this level of leadership, the Democrats will remain the minority party for some time to come. As for those cheering mobs that follow him around, well, birds of a feather and all that.



Terrorists aren’t ?charismatic’

Your Sunday editorial ?As Lebanon votes? quotes Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as having bragged about his belligerent preparations against Israel. Hezbollah has been branded a terrorist organization by the United States. It was responsible for killing hundreds of Americans in the 1980s in bombings of the U.S. Embassy and of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. Hezbollah also kidnapped Western journalists, teachers and aid workers. Yet in a May 29 story on Lebanon, The Washington Post called Mr. Nasrallah ?charismatic.? This is odd, partisan, opinionated language to find in a news article, especially from a newspaper that is diffident about calling terrorists ?terrorists.? Can readers really expect unbiased coverage of Lebanon from a newspaper that calls a terrorist leader ?charismatic??



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