Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 30, 2006

Federal rules limit expansion of roads

No editor from The Sun contacted the Department of the Interior before the editorial "Parting shot" appeared March 24. The editorial apparently overlooked the fact that the guidelines in the memorandum issued by Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton relate to the management of existing roads, not to "upgrades" of paths and trails into "major thoroughfares."

Far from providing "implicit assurance" that such upgrades could occur, Ms. Norton explicitly stated just the opposite, declaring that the law "does not give either the holder of a right-of-way or the department authority to expand the scope of a right-of-way beyond the established right-of-way as of the date of repeal of the statute or reservation for public use of the lands."

The Sun's editorial board may wish Congress had not granted the public these rights. But neither it nor the secretary has the authority to ignore the laws passed by Congress and interpreted by the courts.

However, the secretary did direct the department to be sure its administration of these laws "upholds the department's right and obligation to protect the underlying and surrounding federal lands it manages, paying particular attention to the effects of right-of-way use in sensitive areas such as units of the National Park System, units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and congressionally designated wilderness or wilderness study areas."

Tina Kreisher

Washington

The writer is director of communications for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Support for troops merely superficial

Cynthia Tucker doesn't want to appear anti-military in "War hawks show callous disregard for our working-class troops" (Opinion * Commentary, March 27), so she tries to inoculate herself from criticism by writing that she "supports" our troops in the fight, she just opposes what they are fighting to accomplish.

A bit of intellectual honesty seems to be in order here. If one supports our troops, I would expect that this support would transcend sending cookies and baby wipes, to a support of what the troops embody and represent - which is the extension and use of American military power once diplomacy is deemed ineffective.

If one does not support the policy, one cannot profess to genuinely support in a truest sense those who execute that policy in a military operation.

Ms. Tucker's convoluted logic seems like a "have her cake and eat it too" approach, and her position strikes me as a superficial means of appearing pro-military while maintaining political opinions that are designed to undermine the military's mission.

Brooks D. Tucker

Baltimore

Can't we just leave the Iraqis alone?

President Bush has been making what I see as propaganda speeches in the last week or so rhapsodizing about the progress being made by the Iraqi people since the United States deposed Saddam Hussein three years ago ("`Strategy is working' in Iraq," March 21).

I would like to ask the people of Iraq if being able to vote in free elections is worth the death and chaos, the lack of basic needs such as electricity, sewage, potable water, medicine and medical care.

Is having a constitutional government worth a rising infant mortality rate, the re-emergence of diseases that were once under control and possible, if not actual, civil war? Do Iraqis see the U.S. troops as occupiers or liberators?

I'm not sure many Iraqis would share Mr. Bush's view that "remarkable" progress is being made.

The only winners I see in this situation are companies such as Halliburton, along with Iran and al-Qaida.

Why can't we just leave the Iraqi people alone? Haven't we done enough harm?

Paula Baranowski

Havre de Grace

Jack Abramoff's gifts aren't so impressive

The article "Abramoff allies urge lenient sentence" (March 28), which described letters to the judge noting disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's generosity and faith, reminds me of the old definition of a "philanthropist."

That definition: someone who returns to the community some of what he stole from it.

Reuben Dagold

Pikesville

Killing infection bill will injure patients

Unfortunately, Maryland legislators have rejected bills that would have mandated critically needed infection-control standards in the state's hospitals and nursing homes.

The Maryland Hospital Association undermined the effort by creating a smokescreen of doubt as to the efficacy of the program, while claiming that hospitals are "making progress on their own."

Twenty years of ignoring a runaway epidemic of hospital infection that has caused injury and death to untold numbers is "progress" no one should brag about.

Maryland lawmakers such as state Sens. Paula C. Hollinger and Lisa A. Gladden and Del. James W. Hubbard can stand proud of their efforts on behalf of Maryland's citizens on a problem that Dr. William Jarvis, the former director of the hospital infection division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has called in written testimony "a public health disaster."

Michael Bennett

Baltimore

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