Is catching drug criminals worth cost of innocent lives?
Catching drug traffickers is important, but so is protecting innocent lives. Until the mistakes that took two innocent lives are corrected, Washington should not renew joint drug interdiction efforts in the Andes.
One of these mistakes involves language skills. CIA-contract pilots on a surveillance plane in April were unable to speak Spanish well enough to warn Peruvian pilots they were making a mistake by firing on a plane that turned out to be carrying American missionaries and two young children. Veronica Bowers and her 7-month-old daughter, Charity, died in the attack.
A Peruvian liaison official on the tracking flight was required to speak English. But an investigation shows that as stress levels rose, American and Peruvian personnel were unable to understand each other. Even if certain Peruvians are required to speak English to be in the interdiction program, it is a mistake not to require American personnel on foreign assignment to be fluent in the language of that country. This should be even more pressing for a job that involves life-or-death decisions such as drug interdiction and air surveillance.
... The Bush administration must now decide whether to renew its joint drug interdiction program with Peru and Colombia, which was suspended after the April shootdown. Drug flights may be going undetected for the moment. But it is more important to guarantee that innocent people are not going to be shot out of the sky.
--South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale
Sen. Clinton still has much to prove
Hillary Rodham Clinton's transition from first lady to freshman senator has not been easy and may never be complete. The national spotlight, however, ought not blind her to a basic political fact: Upstate New York played a major role in her election, largely because she promised to deal with this region's pressing needs.
Those needs still linger. While the senator has indeed launched some legislation and helped win a handful of appropriations for this area, she remains a relatively infrequent visitor whose national political stature has yet to pay dividends for Western New York.
For now, the gap between campaign emphasis and senatorial accomplishments is simply troubling. It's still early in Sen. Clinton's freshman term, and she seems to have taken to heart an early admonition from more senior Senate leaders to be ''a workhorse, not a show horse.'' Power in the Senate, and the ability to get things done, most commonly comes slowly through time and seniority. ...
--The Buffalo (N.Y.) News
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