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Thursday, February 9, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Letters to the editor

Auditory glitches

Strictly speaking, AG's interpretation muffles Constitution

Editor, The Times:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday, stated that the law specifically prohibiting warrantless wiretaps (FISA) actually allows the White House to engage in warrantless wiretapping ["Gonzales defends eavesdropping," Times, News, and see "An ear for an earful," editorial, Feb. 7].

With the tortured logic of a first-time shoplifter, he explained that the FISA "contemplates" passage of statutes that obviate the "plain language" of the law intended to regulate the invasion of Americans' privacy by intelligence agencies.

Furthermore, he claimed that the authorization to use military force in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attack, although it contains no language whatsoever on the matter, is such a statute.

For a gang of "strict constructionists," this sophistry constitutes a spectacularly liberal reading of the applicable laws.

Reportedly, even Republican members of Congress are mildly surprised to learn that, in granting King George the prerogative to invade pretty much just any old body at all, they had really voted to supersede FISA.

Maybe those same protectors of the commonweal who told us that forbidding Medicare the right to negotiate for price would result in lower prescription-drug costs are not fully prepared to have the administration employ their proprietary pretzel logic.

If we are lucky, this power grab on the part of the Bush [gang] might be the first unraveling of the bleak and heartless fantasy it has been trying to conjure since its unholy inception. Let us pray.

— E. John Rupnick, Seattle

Catch out of the bag

When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales spoke at Georgetown University in defense of the wiretap surveillance of suspected terrorist, a few people held up a banner in protest of his stance. Similar to the terrorists everyone has observed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the protesters were wearing black sacks over their heads.

It makes one wonder if these protesters were university students or members of al-Qaida or perhaps both. I suppose they consider themselves freedom fighters, just like those pictured with sacks on their head holding guns and posing with their kidnapped captive, [journalist] Jill Carroll, who's blindfolded and has her hands tied behind her back.

— Hank Harwell, Browns Point

The impedance booster

I'm tired of "civil libertarians" fighting against my rights of safety and freedom. If, in fact, their goal is to protect my rights, what rights can I enjoy if I don't feel safe? How can we truly enjoy life if we always have to look over our collective shoulders in fear of the "bad guys"?

It is the sworn duty of the government and its representatives to protect us from "all enemies foreign and domestic."

If someone listens in on my conversations and there is nothing of a criminal nature being discussed, they move on. Do I really care if someone overhears a conversation between a family member and me? We might be strange, but we're honest.

I want cameras on street corners that are linked to police databases. If someone is wanted by the justice system and a camera will help get them off the street, good. I'm safer now. If listening to a phone conversation can lead to the foiling of a conspiracy, good! I'm safer now.

I firmly believe that only those who are participating in questionable or criminal behaviors should be in fear of these violations of their civil rights.

The government isn't trying to find out about your personal indiscretions; it's out to catch criminals and terrorists. It needs to do these types of things to make me safer.

When the American Civil Liberties Union fights issues like these, it is fighting to take away my right to be protected.

Hey FBI, listen to me all you want!

— Robert Wright, Yakima

Silence of the jams

I know, I shouldn't be upset. I'm over 60, I've seen it before.

Our choices are national security or civil liberties? Freedom will make us unsafe? Do we mean to tell the world at large and Iraq in specific that civil liberties are contrary to national security? Or has the rule of law in democracy been eliminated?

So many people dead in Iraq, only to have us give up on being free.

To those who believe your clean living and honest ways will keep you safe from wiretapping: You're wrong. What if a bad person misuses the taps? My dad retired from Ma Bell as a toll test-board operator. In the '50s, FBI agents tapped the lines of their wives, their friends, their political opponents and even a possible spy or two.

Boy, I'll bet that could never happen nowadays!

— Susan Jeswine O'Shea, Seattle

On life support

Heart monitor is vital

"Heart's in right place, knife is not" [editorial, Feb.3] fails to mention that the procedure in question (percutaneous coronary intervention, or "PCI") is being performed in hospitals without on-site cardiac surgery in at least 19 states in the U.S. right now, in all developed countries of Western Europe and is approved by the European Society of Cardiology.

The proposal before the Washington Legislature is not an attempt to decide "whether or not hospitals without on-site cardiac-surgery programs can perform" this procedure. It is a proposal to allow a small number of qualified hospitals to participate in a national clinical research trial for a limited period of time (two years). National guidelines do not, as you suggest, preclude research efforts to obtain such data.

Participation in the project requires institutional and physician-practitioner standards higher than those currently applied to Washington facilities and physicians performing this procedure in hospitals with on-site cardiac surgery today.

The project is fundamentally seeking to determine whether we can increase the number and quality of centers of excellence so that more patients have access to the best care.

Doing nothing may sound benign; but doing nothing promotes what may be unnecessary, poorly substantiated health-care regulations that limit access to PCI services and that create de facto centers of less-than-excellence.

The Legislature needs to act; it is failure to do so that is dangerous.

— Thomas Aversano, M.D., director, Atlantic C-PORT, associate professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Md.

What's rued all over

Purple phrase

After five years of bitter, angry partisanship, at last something both Democrats and Republicans can agree on:

The Seahawks wuz robbed!

— Laurie Biethan, Redmond

Replays with a capitol are

It seems to me this is the second time in recent memory that a group of officials has robbed Washington residents of a fair outcome of a hotly contested campaign.

— John Spinelli, Auburn

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company