CIA supports U.S. policies, follows rules
Craig Eisendrath's Opinion * Commentary article of Aug. 21, "Bringing Light to Covert Operations," attempts to perpetuate the popular fiction that the Central Intelligence Agency pursues its own secret policy objective.
I would argue that the CIA is the most regulated and scrutinized intelligence agency on Earth -- as is appropriate in a democratic society.
The CIA does not and cannot operate independently of the president. Only the president can authorize a covert action by signing a Presidential Finding, which is regularly reviewed by senior officials outside the agency.
The CIA does not make policy; it provides intelligence support to U.S. policy. In fulfilling that mission, the agency follows strict government guidance on human rights. No fewer than six congressional committees monitor our activities -- and I am committed to making sure they have the information they need for effective oversight.
The CIA also has an inspector general -- an independent person confirmed by Congress. The office performs continuous managerial oversight of CIA activities.
The United States has the best intelligence capability in the world. This provides critical, timely information on the threats that face us today, from Iraqi aggression to the efforts of irresponsible states to build weapons of mass destruction, to the activities of terrorists and international crime groups.
Intelligence allows us to guard the national security with a smaller, more effective military. Intelligence also helps build confidence between nations and secure the peace. The historic strategic arms control agreements of this century would never have been signed without the ability of intelligence to verify compliance.
As the international environment has changed, our people have undertaken a long-term effort to make our intelligence system better, more cost-effective, more open and accountable.
The heat and hyperbole of Mr. Eisendrath's commentary is a distraction that adds nothing to the serious public debate on the role of intelligence in the post-Cold War world.
The writer is Director of Central Intelligence.
Way to help the YMCA
I wanted to applaud the United Way's Day of Caring Program of Sept. 14. What an impact the program made at the YMCA!
Skilled craftsmen from the Baltimore Building and Trades Council worked all day making improvements that will serve over 1,000 children next summer. We built a bridge in the woods to our amphitheater, built and repaired sandboxes in the playground and even had a backhoe brought in to repair damage to the grounds. Local merchants -- Ridge Lumber and Heavenly Ham -- donated materials and food.
The YMCA received an estimated $10,000-plus in donated time and materials in just one day. We should all thank the United Way and our Baltimore unions for their great work in improving our communities.
Richard T. Przywara
The writer is the executive director of the White Marsh/Fullerton YMCA.
State helped Shore develop
I read your Sept. 16 editorial, "Job Changes on the Shore," with a combination of pleasure and astonishment.
It was pleasing to see recognition won for the steady growth over the last decade or so of manufacturing throughout the Eastern Shore. This quiet but impressive trend carries the potential to reshape the Shore economy.
The emergence of the Eastern Shore as a magnet for new manufacturing investment, particularly foreign-owned investment, is the product of planning, teamwork and marketing. You correctly praised local development officials for their role.
However, to my astonishment, you failed to acknowledge the very substantial role played by state government in this welcome development. State assistance figured prominently in virtually every example cited. Moreover, gubernatorial trade missions to Europe helped clinch three of the seven new investments you listed.
Mark L. Wasserman
The writer is a former state secretary of economic development.
Violence unacceptable response to pain, loss
My friends and I found your Sept. 18 coverage on Mark A. Clark, the man who killed his family with a car bomb, very disturbing.
While I appreciate the intention of shedding light on an apparently inexplicable act, I fear the article was entirely too forgiving of a horrible crime, and also had an element of blaming the victim.
First, the article presented Mr. Clark as a sort of romantically tragic character, dwelling on the nice things he bought and did for his children. It should not be forgotten that Mr. Clark is a murderer. Many people experience pain, loss and depression without resorting to violence and murder.
Next, the article tried to say that Mrs. Clark had not left him because of abuse (as if being threatened with a rifle, or receiving death threats by phone is not abuse), with the implication that if she left him for another man, his actions were more understandable.
None of that, however, has any bearing on the matter.
A man or woman does not own his or her spouse. And if one chooses to leave the other, even for the most selfish reasons, there is no right to vengeance. No matter how justified the wronged person is in feeling pain and anguish and anger, violence is not a response that can be tolerated by society.
Mayor Schmoke sees the light
I was thrilled with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's victory statement on the evening of the Baltimore City election.
He sounded sincerely outraged at the violent crime and the proliferation of drug dealers in his city. To his obvious astonishment and dismay, he appears now to have discovered that there is some of that type of activity that actually exists in Baltimore.
Imagine, under his very nose. A stunning revelation.
As the mayor moves forward into his third term newly armed with this information, I am sure many residents of the surrounding counties anxiously await his future announcement that this blight has been dealt with and that it is now safe for them to consider moving back.
Edward J. Birrane Jr.
Family fun best for Power Plant
Concerning the proposals for the Power Plant at the Inner Harbor, I would like to say a sports complex is a bad idea for the Baltimore tourist trade.
Families on vacation don't want to go to places where they will be separated by the activities and attractions that are offered.
Family relationships are already stressed enough because husbands, boyfriends and sons spend every Saturday and Sunday watching sports on TV or going out to participate in sports activities. Families want tourist attractions and vacation spots that offer activities that can bring people closer together, not farther apart.
It would be best to use the Power Plant complex to provide shopping for tourists and other family activities that could be shared by all. It should have a variety of shops that emphasize Baltimore and Maryland and possibly a virtual reality attraction and information center sponsored by the state that would encourage tourists and visitors to further explore beautiful Maryland.