LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

President presumes far too much power

The National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping scandal should not be a partisan issue ("House Republican calls for full NSA probe," Feb. 8). It poses a very simple question: Do we have a government of laws or a government of men?

To accept the argument that the president is not bound by laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is, in effect, to endorse the misguided view that the president is a king.

If this is so, we no longer live in a republic.

The Bush administration's myriad excuses for this usurpation of congressional authority amount to little more than President Richard Nixon's old dodge that "if the president does it, it can't be illegal."

But saying it does not make it so. And, in reality, the president has no authority to authorize such warrantless wiretaps.

The excuse that "we're a nation at war" is perhaps the most egregious claim of all.

The fear that the Bush administration is exploiting to bolster this power grab is an insult to the Founding Fathers, who put their lives on the line to establish a government of laws.

And if you think that the administration is sacrificing your civil liberties to keep you safe, think again.

Joe Wilkins

Baltimore

Why do Republicans protect Gonzales?

The Sun's editorial "Indefensible" (Feb. 8) is completely correct in criticizing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales for his eagerness to defend the Bush administration's illegal and unconstitutional warrantless domestic spying.

However, the attorney general was not alone in the spin that has become the hallmark of Republican-controlled government.

When Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wanted Mr. Gonzales sworn in, committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter denied their motion, threatening that the Republican majority had the votes to stop it.

Granted, the questioning from administration-friendly Republicans was more challenging than usual, but why would the Republicans not want the attorney general sworn in when testifying about something as important as a breach of the Constitution?

Were they trying to protect the attorney general from perjuring himself?

Were they trying to protect President Bush?

The Republican senators of the Judiciary Committee are not nearly as nonpartisan on this issue as some reports suggest ("Panel challenges wiretap defense," Feb. 7).

James Fetters

Columbia

Time for Dixon to step aside

It is definitely time for Baltimore City Council President Sheila Dixon to step aside. She has repeatedly made ethical violations that are obvious to anyone who knows anything about politics.

Her latest violation was that she "made a mistake" in not disclosing that that her sister was employed by a company that is regulated by the city government ("Dixon erred, office says," Feb. 7).

Do we really need a person with her ethical record one step away from being mayor?

G. Stuart Lacher

Baltimore

City Council President Sheila Dixon would not have to worry about the motives of those who tell newspapers about her activities if she wasn't engaged in patently unethical activities.

And she could become Baltimore's mayor? Yikes.

Wendy Estano

Baltimore

Gas terminal offers Dundalk a big boost

Local opposition to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Sparrows Point is NIMBYism at its worst ("Project alarms Dundalk residents," Feb. 5).

Dundalk and Sparrows Point need jobs. They need young people moving to and living in the area to work those jobs and, in turn, increase property values.

The Sparrows Point shipyard is zoned and designed for heavy industry. It has a deep-water port facility that large ships have long frequented (although they don't come so frequently anymore with the loss of work at the shipyard).

And there is a considerable buffer area between the Sparrows Point industrial area and the large residential areas.

Yes, there is risk associated with having a LNG facility anywhere. I suggest that the risk be mitigated, not exaggerated.

This project is not "dumping on Dundalk"; it is priming Dundalk for jobs and improvements.

George Laufert

Baltimore

Requiring lifejackets would harm boating

The bill that would require personal flotation devices for all occupants of specified watercraft, regardless of age, is simply a bad idea.

If the Maryland legislature wants to act, I suggest that it should push for stronger enforcement of existing laws against people involved in specific risky behaviors that cause serious boating accidents, rather than acting in a way that would adversely affect the boating pleasure of the vast majority of responsible boaters.

I recently moved from Baltimore to Pennsylvania, but I'm still an avid Chesapeake Bay boater.

If passed, the bill would certainly cause me to consider moving my boating activities out of Maryland waters, taking my boating dollars with me.

The money spent in the "Free State" by pleasure boaters and fishermen on registrations, gasoline, maintenance, docking, food, taxes, etc., is substantial. I'm sure neighboring states would be glad to have the funds.

John Martinez

Newtown, Pa.

An alternative to executions

I think a solution to the death penalty debate would be to sentence those convicted of capital crimes to life without parole or contact with any of their relatives (call it the "dead to you" sentence) ("Evans' death sentence on hold," Feb. 7)

That way, nobody could argue that society is committing murder in the name of justice, but the convicted and his family would be forever separated (no phone calls, no letters, no messages) so that they would feel the loss of their loved one that the victim's family has been forced to suffer.

This would allow a reformed inmate to continue helping others not to follow their path without insulting the family of the victim.

Robert Brooks

Elkridge

Publish the cartoons to uphold freedom

I have always thought that The Sun's logo proclaimed "Light for All." But somehow I am in the dark.

With all the hubbub about these cartoons printed in Danish newspapers about the prophet Muhammad, why not print the cartoons and let the intelligent reading public of The Sun learn and decide what the furor is about ("Protests over cartoons widen," Feb. 7)?

The Sun never seems to be afraid to skewer our elected officials with an artistic pen. Is it now afraid of a Salman Rushdie-style fatwa or guilty of selective censorship in the name of political or religious correctness?

If so, shame on you for trampling on the First Amendment freedom of the press you so proudly proclaim.

Gregory Seltzer

Fallston

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