Honor codesOne has to live in a fantasy world to believe...

the FORUM

March 01, 1994

Honor codes

One has to live in a fantasy world to believe that unsupervised examinations and sloppy handling of papers so that the students get ready access to them could lead to a fair and just evaluation.

The so-called honor code practiced by the Naval Academy and many graduate divisions of universities creates an illusion that it is adhered to by all the students.

In actual practice, students who honor the code find themselves at a disadvantage.

It is always better to prevent cheating by proper supervision than to punish those who succumb to temptations.

Bail L. Rao

Baltimore

Bad example

To appoint Del. Leslie Hutchinson, D-Baltimore County, to represent any office in the state government is an affront to all honest, taxpaying Marylanders.

When are we going to insist that our representatives be held responsible for their actions in both their personal and political lives? How can you reward someone who has disobeyed the laws of our state while serving as a delegate? Good examples are what we need to show our young people, not hollow apologies.

Paula Smoot

Towson

Treason is deserving of death penalty

The revelation that CIA official Rick Ames and his wife were charged with spying for Russia should be surprising in only two regards.

First, it's surprising that so many Americans are surprised and, second, it's surprising that the CIA and the FBI were so inept at catching them for more than eight years.

Intensive investigations of U.S. officials in sensitive positions, including polygraphs and financial audits, are (or should be) conducted regularly.

When this is added to the fact that our country was hemorrhaging sensitive information that could only come from a small group, while the Ameses seem to have been living conspicuously beyond their means, makes our tragic failure difficult to understand.

Congressmen have been quick to attack Russia for accomplishing exactly what our intelligence service was trying to do.

This is hypocritical and dangerous posturing, because the simple fact is that Soviet intelligence allegedly hit a home run with Aldridge Ames when he and his CIA mates were supposed to be converting the Soviet handlers to our purposes.

There is even outrage that Russia would engage in espionage just when our two countries have ceased being enemies. Elected officials are calling for the suspension or reduction of aid to Russia.

We should not lose sight of the fact that U.S. aid and U.S. international actions are purely and properly self-serving.

Israel is one of our closest allies and the largest recipient of foreign aid. This did not deter them from getting American Jonathan Pollard to sell his country's secrets to a foreign government. The amount of aid that continues to flow to Israel and the relations between our two countries have been unaffected.

We need Russia, just as we need Israel, to continue on the path toward democracy and a free economy.

There are many reasons why it is in our interest to promote a strong and open Russia. Thousands of nuclear warheads still located in the former Soviet Union is not the least of them.

The question has been raised about whether the U.S. still needs all the intelligence sources, including espionage and human assets, after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

At a time when terrorism, ethnic conflicts and nuclear ambitions are bubbling dangerously around the globe, the answer seems obvious.

Since our national security requires us to continue, and hopefully expand and improve, these efforts how can we insist that other sovereign nations refrain from such ungentlemanly conduct?

Although the public will never know the full cost of Ames' alleged treachery, there is at least one significant difference between the CIA turning a Russian agent and the Russians having a "mole" in CIA counterintelligence.

That tragic difference is the possibility that Ames directly caused the death of a number of courageous people. And you can be sure the deaths, torture and imprisonment didn't involve any due process.

Finally, the disparity between this crime and the punishment is hard to reconcile. The Ameses are subject to a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for a period up to life. Convictions in these cases are not easy due to the sensitivity of the evidence and the need to protect sources.

This really means that, for a bureaucrat in his mid-fifties, Ames will probably be "traded" or, at worst, have to endure a relatively comfortable incarceration for a number of years if he is convicted.

This does not sound like a meaningful deterrent for such a heinous crime. This crime is about money instead of passion or ideology and, by its nature, had to have been carefully and coldly thought out.

Although I am opposed to the death penalty in all but exceptional cases, I believe treason is such a case and that in this area it would serve as a deterrent.

If nothing else, the death penalty for treason would help protect those individuals who, in turn, risk their lives to protect our nation.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

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