Letters To The Editor


November 09, 2005

Congress can control surveillance powers

The Sun's editorial on the FBI's failure to follow its own rules on surveillance correctly identifies the need for aggressive congressional oversight of the bureau's investigative and intelligence-gathering activities ("Keep an eye on the FBI," Nov. 7).

It is Congress' responsibility to carefully monitor any misuse of authority while striking an appropriate balance between giving investigators the tools they need to catch terrorists and protecting the civil liberties of all citizens.

I believe good intelligence is the best way to prevent another terrorist attack. As a former prosecutor, I know the value of collecting information to put criminals behind bars, but I also know the value and importance of protecting people's individual freedom.

Congress passed the USA Patriot Act after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Patriot Act provides the FBI with essential powers to investigate potential terror threats, but it also includes special "sunset" provisions that provide a system of checks and balances.

These provisions ensure that the law's most controversial new law enforcement authorities are reviewed, analyzed and evaluated for their effectiveness.

This is happening now on Capitol Hill.

I introduced an amendment in the House Intelligence Committee to have the controversial provisions of the Patriot Act "sunset" again in four years. Members of Congress are now negotiating over the final text of the Patriot Act and debating whether the bill should include these "sunsets."

I urge them to keep these periodic reviews in the final law.

We are still at war against terrorism.

I believe we need to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to keep our families and our communities safe while always protecting people's rights.

Our country's forefathers would want it this way.

C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger


The writer represents Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Vaccine disparities can be overcome

Racial and ethnic disparities have existed for some time regarding the distribution for influenza vaccine ("Outbreak could reveal socioeconomic divide," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 3).

The disparities are the result of a number of factors, personal and structural.

We recently completed a project in Harlem and the Bronx that involved a community-academic partnership that engaged residents and health professionals in all phases of the project: planning, implementation and now evaluation.

The intervention built upon existing neighborhood formal and informal infrastructures, with the intent of reaching out to people who are unlikely to have regular health providers or to trust in or have access to public health clinics.

Acceptance of the program was high, and all of the influenza doses were distributed within two weeks.

Model projects such as this one provide valuable lessons and represent practical efforts to reduce disparities.

Such projects deserve to be replicated and scaled-up to reach more communities.

Dr. Danielle Ompad

Dr. David Vlahov

New York

The writers are directors of the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies at the New York Academy of Medicine.

Little reassurance from Bush's flu plan

So the Bush administration has developed a plan against a possible bird flu pandemic - wonderful ("Bush unveils plan to battle avian flu," Nov. 2).

This from the same folks who got us into a war without an exit strategy in which the vast majority of American deaths have occurred after our commander in chief declared a victory - from the same folks who were responsible for an unbelievably inept response to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, and who couldn't even manage their proposed immunization of U.S. health workers in the face of last year's flu vaccine shortage.

And let's not forget that the father of this ambitious and highly complex plan is the same president who has been skeptical about global warming but seems to have no problem contemplating the possibility of teaching "intelligent design" as a science.

Doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Dayle Dawes


Alito's record shows he's ready to serve

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. should be confirmed by the Senate to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court ("Christian activists lobby for court nominee," Nov. 5).

This is an outstanding and brilliant nomination.

Judge Alito is an exceptionally well-qualified nominee who served for the past 15 years on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He served as a U.S. attorney before that.

The Senate Democrats are already in attack mode and will hold nothing back in obstructing this highly qualified nominee to the Supreme Court.

But Judge Alito is a well-qualified judge who will not legislate from the bench.

Do not let the spin from the left-wing media pundits and attacks from the Democrats distort Judge Alito's distinguished record as a judge and federal prosecutor and superb public servant.

Al Eisner


Abortion foes push a sectarian agenda

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