Friday, November 4, 2005

Clarifying Hutchison’s comments

Your article “Interpretation of perjury depends on party it hits” (Nation, Wednesday) incorrectly compared Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s recent remarks on “gotcha” investigator tactics in general — she never referred to any specific case — to her actions during the impeachment of President Clinton. The two examples are as different as night and day.

In 1999, Mrs. Hutchison said Mr. Clinton committed a serious crime when he purposely perjured himself and obstructed justice, and she was absolutely right. He intentionally lied to a grand jury and the nation and then obstructed justice to protect himself politically. That is very different from the type of theoretical case the Senator was referring to recently when she said an investigator might fail to find evidence of a crime and instead look for any shred of inconsistency, no matter how inadvertent, in testimony that may have stretched over a period of years.

As Mrs. Hutchison said in 1999, the standards for perjury and obstruction of justice are not gray. Deliberately lying to a grand jury about a material fact is not the same as an inadvertent and irrelevant mistake. She believes that prosecutors play a critically important role in our system of justice and to keep the integrity of the process must legitimately differentiate between deliberate lies and inadvertent mistakes.


Press Secretary

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison


Amnesty on Iraq

In his Commentary piece “In-your-sleep moralizing” (Oct. 29), Victor Davis Hanson falsely and ignorantly asserts that Amnesty International “did little concrete” to address the gross human-rights violations committed during Saddam Hussein’s regime. Mr. Hanson would have found more than sufficient evidence demonstrating the contrary, however, had he taken the time to perform even a perfunctory search through our reports.

For decades Amnesty International has been outspoken and active in the denouncement of atrocities that took place under Saddam Hussein’s government. The organization documented the mass killings, “disappearances,” torture, political imprisonment and forced removals used by Saddam’s government to destroy all opposition. In 1988, for the first time in its history, it called on the U.N. Security Council to intervene in Iraq to stop the massacre of Kurds. Through scores of letters and petitions, its activists urged Iraqi officials, as well as the United States, foreign governments and corporations, to take action to stop the abuses. Yet, for most of this period, the world seemed oblivious to the plight of the Iraqi people.

Now that Saddam Hussein’s government has fallen, Amnesty International continues to demand that he and others responsible for gross human-rights violations be held accountable. In order to ensure a full accounting, however, Saddam and the other defendants must receive a fair trial in line with international standards. Iraqis will judge the tribunal’s legitimacy by the fairness of its procedures, including the extent to which it ensures full rights to all defendants. Anything less would hinder the development of the Iraqi judicial system and rob Saddam’s victims of the justice they deserve.


Amnesty International USA

Iraq country specialist

River Forest, Ill.

Courageous Rosa Parks

Civil-rights activist Rosa Parks’ courageous acts during her lifetime are representative of all blacks who worked hard to win the struggle against prejudice, oppression and denied human rights. (“D.C. thanks Rosa Parks for her life,” Page 1, Tuesday). The progress made in gaining voting rights and better employment opportunities since 1955 came about primarily because blacks took the initiative to prick America’s conscience. Taking the high moral ground, they marched and demonstrated nonviolently in protest of our country’s unjust laws. We are indebted to our black friends for exposing America’s hypocrisy. Today, there is hope that “liberty and justice for all” are possible.


Louisville, Ky.

Ban horse slaughter

With regard to the Oct. 25 Editorial “Slaughterhouse on the Hill,” I’m in complete agreement. To horse lovers and horse followers, the slaughtering of horses as if they were cattle is abhorrent, ghastly, immoral, unethical and un-American. I’m outraged. I have no qualms with using deceased horses as sources of beef and other products. It seems almost inhuman to slaughter a live horse, as if it were a lower form of animal.

The horse was integral to the founding and development of America. Horses were important in the Revolutionary War, as well as the Civil War and other conflicts. The animal has earned the right to eventually retire and spend the rest of its life in relative peace, then die of disease or old age. It’s outrageous, in this country, to countenance the slaughter of such a noble and statuesque beast.

Horse slaughter should be banned in this country forever. Congress should work in less strange ways. I’m angry to read that a few committee members can thwart the will of the majority, via the amendment process. Hammering out differences in laws need not be like “making sausages.” The “guilty” committee members have a great deal of explaining to do.


Silver Spring

Syria and the U.N.

I would like to be as optimistic about the future of Syria and its corrupt government as the Wednesday Editorial “Syria rebuked, Assad tottering.” While the condemnation was almost universal in the United Nations, the resolutions did not put teeth into the action, not having the implied use of sanctions or military force.

Unfortunately with the current makeup of not only the Security Council, but also the U.N. General Assembly, the outcome of the resolution may be a satisfying of the need for the United Nations to act, but without any enforcement power. On decisions of import, the democratic governments of Europe and the Americas are thwarted by the two vetoes on the Security Council, namely Russia and China, and by the large bloc of Arab, Muslim and Third World nations that see their own sins in what has occurred in Syria.

Lebanon remains under the domination of Syria, despite a symbolic troop withdrawal, Israel continues to be threatened by the terrorist groups sheltered in Damascus and finally, our troops in Iraq are still “sitting pigeons” for the insurgents who are based in Syria. The action or lack of action on these resolutions by the United Nations should prove once and for all whether the United Nations remains a paper tiger or finally has become a force for peace in the world.


Silver Spring

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