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Excerpts from U.S. newspaper editorials

The Associated Press
Saturday January 12, 2002


Jan. 4 – The Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, on guns with anti-terrorist messages: 

Some congressional gun control advocates object to gun manufacturers peddling their wares with anti-terrorist messages. But the gun makers are only responding to the marketplace. 

The Washington-based Alliance for Justice recently held a press conference with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., to complain about marketing for weaponry such as Ithaca’s “Homeland Security” pump-action shotgun, Tromix Corp.’s 50-caliber “Turban Chaser,” and Beretta’s “United We Stand” 9 mm pistol. 

Nan Aron, president of the alliance, complained about Beretta making donations to terrorist victims based on increased sales. ... 

Better that Beretta should be uncharitable? Some of the marketing tactics may be in poor taste, as in the “Turban Chaser.” For one thing, the headdress is endemic to the region, with more worn by our Afghan allies than by the apparently defunct ranks of the Taliban. 

But to tell gun makers they can’t retool their marketing to reflect circumstances is an exercise in futility, not to mention sanctimony. If patriotism is big now, Madison Avenue will be near the front of the parade. 

It’s as American as armed self-defense. 


Jan. 5.– The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, on drug convictions and federal aid: 

This academic year, nearly 44,000 college students will be denied federal financial aid because of a drug conviction in their background. Many will properly bear the financial penalty for having violated drug laws. But for others, the hit will be far more punitive than lawmakers envisioned. 

People who commit drug offenses before going on to higher education were not intended to be targeted. The law, passed in 1998, was designed to get university students who broke drug laws while receiving federal aid. 

The law seemingly could be amended to clarify its intent, but it hasn’t been. Despite the efforts of its author, Indiana Republican Rep. Mark Souder, to force the Department of Education to bring its enforcement efforts into line with its intent, the measure continues to act like a buzz saw, cutting down the opportunities of thousands of students. 

This has led to two unintended consequences: Thousands of students simply lie about drug possession and trafficking convictions, or simply leave the question blank. Those who are honest about their indiscretions are penalized. 

The Department of Education should enforce the law as Congress intended. Or Congress must revisit a well-intended law that inadvertently and unfairly has stymied the education of thousands of American students. 


Jan. 8 – Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, on military tribunals: 

Quietly, officials are making needed changes to the guidelines issued last year regarding the use of military tribunals to try terrorism suspects. 

The changes would reverse the most objectionable features of an executive order issued by President Bush that authorized the tribunals. It also demonstrates the administration’s willingness to correct mistakes. ... 

According to the report, major changes include: 

Defendants would be presumed innocent until proven guilty. And evidentiary standards would be tightened to require a conviction based on guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

The death penalty would require a unanimous vote of the hearing panel, instead of a two- thirds vote. 

Appeals would be allowed, perhaps using a three-judge panel that might include retired civilian judges. 

The final plan has not been released. But if it follows the proposed changes, it will better reflect American ideals of justice and the rule of law.