Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania on October 27, 2002 · Page 7
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Indiana Gazette from Indiana, Pennsylvania · Page 7

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Sunday, October 27, 2002
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Sunday, October 27,2002 OP-ED PageA-7 RISING VOICES AGAINST WAR MUST BE HEARD By CHARLES LEVENDOSKY Casper Star-Tribune Even as the White House continues to beat the war drums, there appears to be a quiet but substantial constituency of voters against an attack on Iraq. The polls haven't caught the depth of the anti-war vote yet. Six Republican members of the U.S. House and one GOP senator voted against the Bush administration's Iraq war resolution: Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee, Rep. John Hostettler of Indiana, Rep. Amo Houghton of New York, Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, Rep. Constance Morella of Maryland, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. The Washington D.C. offices of Reps. Hostettler and Paul did not return repeated telephone calls. The press secretaries of the other members of Congress revealed that thousands of constituents called or e-mailed comments supporting a vote against the war resolution. The tallies ran from 90 percent to 99 percent against war and in support of their members of Congress who voted against the resolution. Sen. James Jeffords, the Independent from Vermont, received approximately 2,500 calls a week for three weeks prior to the vote — 99 percent of those were against any military involvement in Iraq. Jeffords voted against the war resolution. After the vote, 95 percent of the calls his office received thanked him. Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois received 5,000 calls a week for three weeks prior to the vote in the Senate. Nearly 90 percent were against the war resolution. Durbin voted nay on the resolution. Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald also of Illinois voted in favor of the war resolution. His office did not return repeated calls regarding the views of his constituents. Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California voted for the war resolution. Her Washington office admitted that they received 35,000 telephone calls, more than 90 percent of the callers were against unilateral military action in Iraq. Feinstein's office did not keep a count on faxes or e-mails. The calls from her constituency caused Feinstein to issue a statement on why she voted for the resolution. In her statement Feinstein says she believes Iraq will pose a real threat if Sad- dam Hussein achieves nuclear capability. California's other U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, also a Democrat, voted against the war resolution. Her Washington office received 6,000 to 8,000 telephone calls a week in the two weeks before the vote as well as 8,000 e-mails — 99 percent against the resolution. During the week of the vote when the debate in the Senate was intense, Boxer's office received approximately 11,000 calls — 98 percent against the resolution. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has been dodging protesters ever since she voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution, according to a report in New York City's Village Voice. Her office had been flooded by calls asking her to vote against the war resolution. While such informal number collection has no statistical validity, it does point to a definite split in the electorate. The depth of that split is still unplumbed. However, on Nov. 5, voters across the United States will tell the Bush administration how they feel about starting a war in Iraq. More precisely, the general election will tell this administration how voters feel about waging a cosdy, unprovoked war in the Middle East while our economy gradually sinks into a crisis. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll indicates that 61 percent of Americans support using force to remove Hussein as Iraq's leader. Nevertheless, anti-war protests have sprung up spontaneously across America. Recent protests were held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as well as Annapolis, Md. and Burlington, Vt. More are planned for Oakland and San Francisco; the Constitutional Gardens in Washington, D C andTaos, N.M. Other polls show that a majority of Americans believe the United Nations should be allowed to try diplomacy first. On Oct. 18, however, the State Department asserted that President Bush has the authority to attack Iraq, even If the U.N. doesn't give its support. The Bush administration doesn't seem to understand the reluctance of the American people to start a war. It's un-American. It goes against our grain. Yes, we've been tricked into wars before by unscrupulous elected leaders, but most Americans prefer to live and let live. War will not solve the problems at home — where we live. In two years, our $237 billion budget surplus has plummeted to a $ 157 billion deficit. Some of federal spending can be blamed on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; some cannot. The $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut enacted last year to cozy the wealthy is partly to blame. Economists estimate that a war with Iraq will cost at least $200 billion, which will add to this nation's economic woes. On Oct. 14, the Associated Press Military Writer Robert Burns reported that the Bush administration has recently deployed thousands of troops into the Gulf region. Meanwhile, 41 million Americans are now without health insurance — 2.5 million more than in the year 2000. Social Security funds will be raided for other government programs. Medicare premiums will go up next year. All bad news for senior citizens. But the administration is focused on war and the drums of war. Voters can make the administration pay attention to home-front problems, but only if they vote against those who would push us into starting an unnecessary war in Iraq. (Charles Levendosky, editorial page editor of the Casper, Wyo., Star-Tribune, has a national reputation for First Amendment commentary. His e-mail address is levendos@trib. com.) ** AEEOZ JOHN ASHCROFT DEFINES PATRIOTISM By NAT HENTOFF Newspaper Enterprise Assn. At the national United States Attorneys' conference on Oct. 1, John Ashcroft accused his critics of "capitulation before freedom's enemies ... the terrorists." Ashcroft added that those of us who question his methods of fighting terrorism use "disdain and ridicule." I wonder if Ashcroft had in mind Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who told George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen — in the Oct. 21 New Republic — that "the Justice Department ... more than any federal agency, seems to be running amok and out of control. ... This agency right now is the biggest threat to personal liberty in the country." Or was Ashcroft thinking of Republican conservative Bob Ban, who has also criticized the Justice Department's attacks on civil liberties. Barr told Rosen that, with regard to the USA Patriot Act, "the administration has been resisting any effort to provide information to the judiciary committee detailing how its work is being implemented." The chief obstacle to releasing that information: John Ashcroft. The attorney general must be relieved that Armey is retiring and libertarian Barr was defeated this year in his campaign for re-election in Georgia. Ashcroft gets much more respectful reactions from Democratic Congressional leaders Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, who have been silent on the Justice Department's revisions of the Bill of Rights. Or maybe the attorney general was thinking of such "capitulationists" as New York University law professor Stephen Schulhofer who —• in the Century Foundation's report, "The Enemy Within, Intelligence Gathering, Law Enforcement and Civil Liberties in the wake of September 11" — wrote that some of Ashcroft's security measures "compromise important freedoms in ways that previous presidents never attempted, even in the midst of formally declared wars.... Important individual freedoms have been sacrificed — often needlessly and unjustifiably." Among such sacrifices Schulhofer cites are "new powers to conduct undercover infiltration and surveillance of political and religious groups, and increased wiretapping, electronic eavesdropping, and covert acquisition of Internet and email communications, including increased powers to conduct these kinds of surveillance without probable cause or a judicial warrant." And on National Public Radio, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark — former commander of Allied forces in Kosovo — emphasized that this "prolonged struggle against terrorism ... is the kind of war that demands we pay MORE attention to our rights as citizens." Is that "capitulation" to our enemies — or rather, an endorsement of what the president said on Sept. 12,2001: "We will not allow this enemy to win the war by changing our way of life or restricting our freedoms." Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall never capitulated to attempts to diminish the Bill of Rights. In his 1989 dissent, Skinner v. Rail- way Labor Executives' Association, Marshall, without disdain or ridicule, stated this basic truth of the American experience: "History teaches us that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure. The World War II relocation- camp cases (of Japanese-Americans) ... and the Red Scare and McCarthy- era internal subversion cases ... are only the most extreme reminders that when we allow fundamental freedoms to be sacrificed in the name of real or perceived exigency, we invariably come to regret it." I recendy spoke at the annual Connecticut Library Leadership Conference and relayed some advice to the librarians from a reader of Free Inquiry magazine. He suggested that librarians and bookstore owners post this notice to customers and library users: "Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act ... gives the FBI the right to obtain a court order demanding ... any records we have of your transactions at this location. We wili be required to give them the requested information, AND WILL BE FORBIDDEN from TELLING YOU OR ANYONE ELSE ABOUT IT." Most of the sessions at that librari-. ans' conference were about Ashcroft's legislation commanding librarians to provide die FBI with the names of the books that certain borrowers under loose suspicion — but without probable cause — of involvement with terrorism asked for. As for the gag order preventing the librarians from telling the press or anyone else of these Orwellian visits or the names of the books, the librarians were still wondering how this could happen in the United States. Does the attorney general regard librarians voicing such concerns as evidence of "capitulating" to the terrorists? We do have enemies within > — terrorist "sleepers" — but those of us who dissent from Ashcroft's practices are doing so in the very tradition of the Americanism we are fight- • ing to preserve. (Afar Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.) Newspaper editorial roundup By The Associated Press Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad: Oct. 20 The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, on judicial nominations: Republicans in Washington are complaining loudly and bitterly that Senate Democrats are holding up President Bush's judicial nominations. They have short memories. For almost die whole of the Clinton presidency, Republicans who then controlled the Senate dragged their feet on court nominations, which over the past 15 years have become politicized to the point of paralysis. The federal courts are choking on backlogged cases and the Senate shrugs and goes about the job of making matters worse. ... What is not appropriate, though, and what is unacceptable, is to refuse to act on nominees. The courts need judges, the Constitution demands respect and the nominees deserve the common courtesy of reasonably prompt action. Both parties have been reckless about this matter, Democrats today and Republicans before. American democracy was designed to encourage compromise. With authority frequently divided between the parties, government can achieve litde without the grease of compromise.... Oct. 21 The Repository, Canton, Ohio, on President Bush and Iraq: Some critics of the hard line President Bush is taking against Iraq have assumed the United States is headed full throttle for war. Welcome developments Thursday make it clear that the situation is more Quid. The United States retracted a demand that a new United Nations resolution authorize the use of military force if Saddam Hussein impedes the work of weapons inspectors. Bush has had the support of Britain, a fellow permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, all along. The Thursday compromise is more in line with what the other three permanent members, Russia, China and France, have said they would support. The United States also has won the backing of the European Union and several other nations for its demand that inspection teams be free to travel anywhere in Iraq, including into the dozens of huge compounds that Saddam misleadingly calls presidential palaces. This is all undeniable progress toward Bush's goal of putting pressure from a coalition of nations on Saddam. Diplomacy clearly is still Bush's weapon of choice. Oct. 17 South County Journal, Kent, Wash., on a homeland security bill: The massacre in Bali and several other recent attacks make it clear that international terrorism has not been checked. The threat against Americans at home and abroad remains real. Congress gave President Bush the authority necessary to act against Iraq. Now it's time for our elected representatives to create the Department of Homeland Security. The bill to create the Cabinet-level department has been mired in Congress for months because of side issues. Democrats insist that workers at the new agency belong to unions and be protected by civil service requirements. President Bush believes that Homeland Security officials should not be hampered by hiring and reassignment restrictions that are perfecdy acceptable for federal workers who perform more mundane tasks. We agree with the president. An agency designed to protect U.S. citizens must be nimble and responsive, with clear lines of authority. Civil service rules are too cumbersome for an agency charged with outfoxing terrorists. Under existing law, presidents already have the power to exempt federal workers from unions on national security grounds. Democratic amendments would remove that authority in Homeland Security. That would be irresponsible. Republicans, meanwhile, have dug in their heels over freedom-of-information requirements and protections for whistleblowers. They're wrong to insist that such a powerful new agency be given a degree of secrecy on par with the Central Intelligence Agency. The new Homeland Security agency will not guarantee the safety of citizens within our borders. But investigations in the aftermath of Sept. 11 clearly show the need for improved coordination among federal agencies to deal with the terrorist threat. Members of Congress need to put the security of the American people above narrow political interests. Oct. 21 Chicago Tribune, on President Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan has spent more than half the time since its founding being governed by generals — and though President Pervez Mushar- raf says otherwise, military rule is going to continue for the foreseeable future. Parliamentary elections were held Oct. 10, but most people stayed away from the polls, perhaps because they regarded the whole exercise as a fraud. A fraud it may have been — but it's one that may still create new problems for Musharraf. Apparendy believing his own claim to have the support of the Pakistani people, the general expected voters to deliver a friendly parliament. But though a party sympathetic to Musharraf won the most seats, it fell well short of a majority — meaning that opposition parties could dominate the proceedings. It's not unusual in any country for extremist parties to grow in popularity during periods of dictatorship, because they represent the most clear-cut challenge to those in charge. Musharraf's decrees barred the most popular opposition leaders, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, from this election. Instead of pushing their moderate supporters to vote for the party favored by the military government, he apparently pushed those Pakistanis to stay home or to turn toward Islamic fundamentalism — which could pose a far greater threat to the country's stability. By suppressing democracy, the general has encouraged the growth of opposition factions that are not only anti-Mushar- raf but also anti-democratic.... It's not as though he had an easy road ahead without these new hurdles. Under the best of circumstances, Musharraf and the new parliament would have to confront the same huge challenges that have faced Pakistan for half a century — including poverty, illiteracy, corruption and the absence of the rule of law. In case of continued failure, both sides will have someone with whom to share the blame. It looks as though there will be plenty to go around. Oct. 19 The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on a jolt for Jakarta: The deadly bombing of a popular tourist spot on Bali leaves little room for Indonesian officials to deny that terrorism is a problem in their country. While the car bomb that killed 188 people has yet to be definitively linked to a specific group, the explosion clearly took careful planning and technological sophistication. And there are ample signs that point to al- Qaida. The bombing took place on the sec-' ond anniversary of the suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, which has been linked to al-Qaida. Traces of the same C4 plastic explosives used in the Cole attack were found at the scene of this bombing. Among the suspects sought by Indonesian police are two Arabs thought to be connected to al-Qaida.... The United States has — along with other nations — urged Indonesia to pay attention to terrorist activity within its borders, to little avail. Before the recent attack, Indonesian officials downplayed the threat of terrorism and paid little heed to international warnings. But this bombing has jolted Indonesia out of its dangerous state of denial. Now, officials are talking about giving Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri the authority to impose by decree an anti-terrorism law that had been languishing. The government has also welcomed investigators from other countries to help track down those responsible for the bombing.... This was a necessary realization. The United States has worried for some time about Islamic terrorist groups encroaching on Asia. Indonesia's vulnerability is its geography. With 17,000 islands, it's a country that has difficulty controlling entry. That makes it ideal for terrorists seeking a hideout or a base of operation.... Indonesia has received a tragic wake-up call. Its officials can't afford to hit the snooze button again. Oct. 21 The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C., on testing students for tobacco: Schools used to employ the element of surprise to nab students puffing cigarettes between classes. Now, some schools have turned to science as tobacco is added to the ever-expanding list of drugs for which students are being tested.... While students shouldn't be smoking, testing students for tobacco use is absurd. ... Schools have been concerned primarily with smoking on campus or during organized school events. ... But with urine tests, even students who smoke while away from school would be barred from participating in extracurricular activities. We agree that some drug testing might be appropriate.... However, if the captain of the cross country team is smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day, we doubt he'll be winning many races. Certainly, every high school has some students who use drugs. But how big a problem does that constitute? Does it warrant a dragnet that might subject millions of innocent students to intrusive, degrading urine tests? Furthermore, drug tests target the students who are least likely to abuse drugs in the first place.... You'd have better luck testing all the students who don't get involved in after-school activities. They're also the ones most likely to be smoking.... But making them urinate in a cup to find out if they have been smoking is a violation of their civil rights, in our opinion. Not to mention a ridiculous and ineffective school policy. Oct. 18 Times Union, Albany, N.Y., on North Korea's nuclear capabilites: North Korea's startling admission that it has conducted a major nuclear-weapons development program in violation of a 1994 accord has prompted hawks in Congress to demand that the U.S. cancel key economic assistance to that impoverished country. But as unsettling as the news is, a more diplomatic response is needed. There's no doubt now that the hawks were right when they criticized the ) 994 agreement with the Clinton administration. They warned then that Ihe accord contained too many loopholes to accomplish its aim of dis- manding North Korea's nuclear program.... But some in Congress warned that the agreement also permitted North Korea to retain indefinite control over spent fuel rods from a five-megawatt reactor in Yongbyon — a concession that gave Pyongyang the capacity to rapidly build nuclear weapons if it decided to violate the terms of the accord. North Korea's admission that it has done exactiy that comes as the United Nations Security Council is preparing to a vote on a resolution that would readmit weapons inspectors to Iraq.... But North Korea is not Iraq, and the call by some hawks for the United States to immediately cancel work on the light-water reactors and suspend fuel oil shipments is premature. ... North Korea is still a danger, to be sure. But as long as there is even a slim chance of a diplomatic solution to this danger, it should be fully exploited. Oct. 22 The Independent, London, on military action against Iraq: Inch by inch, or rather centimeter by centimeter, the members of the Security Council of the United Nations appear to be moving towards a compromise resolution on Iraq. The United States, having talked as if nothing else than a threat of all-out war was acceptable if Saddam Hussein did not comply, has now moderated its stance to accept a resolution promising much vaguer threats of action. ... The French, with the Russians yesterday emerging from behind their skirts, want nothing that would allow military action against Iraq without further consultation. The Americans, with British backing, seek precisely this cover. But at this stage one should be grateful that Washington has put aside its talk of regime change and unilateral action. Whether for reasons of domestic public opinion or international objection, President Bush appears readier to adopt the diplomatic approach as favored by his State Department rather than the "kick ass" policy promoted by his Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and his Vice president, Dick Cheney. That can only be for the good. Whatever the rights and wrongs of action against Iraq, it makes no sense at all to strain the international alliance. The bombs in Bali and the * sniper in Washington in his way have shown that the threat to America's, and the West's, security comes far more from individuals or clandestine groups than from state terrorism. The concern now is that the return of the inspectors to Iraq should be left in the hands of the United Nations, and that the UN should be firm in its pursuit of this course. The longer this process drags on, the more President Saddam who seems, ready to agree to almost anything at this stage will be tempted to see divisions in the iniernationaJ ranks. It's time for the quibbling to stop and a ' resolution to be agreed as urgently as possible. Oct. 22 Le Monde, Paris, on North Korea's nuclear program: In Asia, Moscow, and Europe, American envoys will be looking for a consensus to ' block Pyongyang's uranium enrichment program. In Washington, a certain embarrassment has become perceptible regarding (Pyongyang's) late revelations. The U.S. considers that North Korea's uranium enrichment program annuls the 1994 accord in which Pyongyang pledged to halt : all nuclear weapons development.... However, the consequences of this annul- '. ment have not been made clear. The Ameri- ' cans have decided not to say if they will stop the 500,000 tons of crude oil delivered to the countryA annually ... or end plans to help ' build two "non-proliferating" reactors... Without doubt, this attitude is part of Washington's decision to embrace diplomat- .'. ic pressure and dialogue.... Inspection programs and aid to North Korea involve the U.S., South Korea, Japan ' ! and Europe, and they cannot be brought ' back into question without dialogue. The American government's approach to the;" North Korean problem is very different from ' how it is handling Iraq. The explanation given is that government in Pyongyang has " been very weakened by its economic failures, j and that it is susceptible to pressures ineffec- ' tualinlraq.... ''• Although there's certainly a consensus ' among Washington's allies of the danger represented by North Korea's nuclear armament — one that upsets the region's strategic order — Seoul and Tokyo apparently want to move ' more cautiously than Washington would " have hoped.... ;

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