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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 16, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas Wednesday, July 16, 2003 — Herald-Zeitung — Page 5AForum Contact Managing Editor Gary E. Maitland, 625-9144 ext. 220 Nkw Braunfels Herald-Zeitung New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852; New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958. Doug Toney, Editor and Publisher Gary E. Maitland, Managing Editor (830) 625-9144 Other Views Austin American-Statesman on secret budget plan: Another attempt to block the public from seeing how tax money is to be spent failed when a bill to keep secret the governor’s budget documents was derailed. It was the third time budgetary secrecy was defeated this year, and it was a victory for people of Tfexas. State Rep. David Swinford, R-Amarillo, withdrew his bill to make budget documents secret after it was greeted with widespread derision from Orange to El Paso and all points in between. Swinford introduced in this month’s special session of the Legislature a bill to exempt budget working papers from the state’s Public Information Act. He introduced a similar bill in the regular session, but it died before it could pass both the House and Senate. Swinford, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, was attempting to do a favor for Gov. Rick Perry, who tried earlier this year to have his budget papers exempted from open records law. The Austin American-Statesman and other news agencies sued to have the documents released, and Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled those papers are part of the public record. Now that the governor has failed a third time, he should give up his misguided efforts to keep the public from knowing how its tax dollars are being spent. Secrecy in state budget matters is simply wrong. The budget belongs to the people of Tbxas. It’s their money the government is spending. Swinford offered a particularly lame excuse for demanding the budget be exempted from the state’s open record laws, arguing people only want to see budget papers in order “to ruin people’s lives.” He was roundly derided for that comment at the time, and that derision was revived when he reintroduced his bill in special session. News organizations across Tbxas editorialized against Perry’s attempt to make the budget a secret document and Swinford’s bill aiding that effort. The Texas Daily Newspaper Association and the Texas Press Association reprinted dozens of editorials from newspapers big and small objecting to the push for secrecy. The blizzard of criticism must have stung. Swinford said he pulled his bill down to protect supporters from getting “beat up” in the press. “A lot of people are just very, very, very press-conscious,” he said. The truth is a secret budget process is wrong, and the people of Tbxas understand they were being treated shabbily. They have a right to know how the budget process is proceeding. It affects them in numerous ways and determines everything from the books their children read in school to nursing home costs. There is no good reason for the people of Tbxas to be kept in the dark about the state budget, and it is insulting to suggest they should be. Maybe the governor and Swinford understand that now.Policy The Herald-Zeitung encourages the submission of letters. Letters must be 250 words or fewer, and the Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. Guest columns should be less than 500 words. An address and telephone number, which are not for publication, must be included so authorship can be confirmed. No letter will be published until it has been verified. Mail letters to; Letters to the Editor c/othe Herald-Zeitung PO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax: (830) 606-3413 e-mail: [email protected] President should combat critics on post-war Iraq Saddam Hussein probably believes his war plan is working. Knowing he could not withstand American and British military might, he theorized the United States and Britain would cut and run if, in post-war after-math, casualties became unacceptable and short attention spans kicked in. From his bunker, Saddam must be getting summaries of Western media reports and opinion polls from his remaining sycophants and concluding his triumphant return to power may be near. Rather than focus on Iraq’s future, administration critics — including Democratic presidential candidates desperate to bring down Bush’s still-high approval ratings — concentrate on who said and did what about weapons of mass destruction evidence. CIA Director George Tenet, who was named to the post by President Bill Clinton, performed an act unheard of in the previous administration by taking responsibility for an erroneous intelligence report Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. This was only one of many justifications given by President Bush for oust-Today In History By The Associated Press Tbday is Wednesday, July 16, the 197th day of 2003. There are 168 days left in the year. Tbday’s Highlight in History: On July 16, 1945, the Cal Thomas ing Saddam from power. That this piece of information was wrong should not matter. The West knew Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and used them on his own people. The discovery of torture chambers and mass graves was reason enough for a free and compassionate nation to stop the murderous ways of a maniacal dictator. Killing people one at a time or by the thousands leaves them just as dead. When civilians are targets, there is no moral distinction when they die from a single bullet or a weapon of mass destruction. Because the currencies of this administration are honesty and integrity, several things should happen to keep the upper hand in debate on whether war in Iraq was worth it. Clearly, Tenet should resign or be fired. He failed in ways that contributed to 9/11, and he stumbled on a matter of basic intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. He has hurt the president, and that is an unpardonable political sin for one in a high-profile position. The president says he has “full confidence” in the director. One wonders what Tenet would have to do to enjoy half-confidence. Then, Bush should address the nation about questions and concerns raised about his post-war strategy. One element is finding Saddam Hussein, which would remove an important obstacle in the effort to restructure Iraq. Additional forces are said to have been assigned to that task and reward money offered. It is not certain whether money will be sufficient to persuade fearful Iraqis to reveal information. Also, while congressional investigation may be premature and serve primarily as a forum for Democrats to attack the president for political purposes, the administration must get specific. This includes talking about the cost of the postwar effort in dollars (Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last week acknowledged it would be $3.9 billion a month, nearly twice his previous estimate) and years of troop involvement (the recently retired coalition commander, Gen. Tbmmy Franks, said U.S. troops might have to stay in Iraq for up to four years). Can these forces overcome the hit squads that have been gunning down American and British troops at the current rate of one to seven per day? The country deserves an answer from the president. Polls indicate public support for the post-war effort is strong but shaky. President Bush’s overall approval rating dropped nine points to 59 percent in just 18 days, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poU. While the poU found seven of IO believe the United States should keep troops in Iraq, even if it means additional casualties, 52 percent believe the level of casualties is “unacceptable.” President Bush, who has rightly gone on the offensive when it comes to terrorism and tyrants like Saddam Hussein, must now act to keep public confidence high. He cannot be reactive, or events and his opponents will harm his cause and weaken his reelection chances. (Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.) United States exploded its first experimental atomic bomb, in the desert of Alamogordo, N.M. On this date: In 1790, the District of Columbia was established as the seat of U.S. government. In 1862, David G. Farragut became the first rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. In 1918, Russia’s Czar Nicholas II, his empress and their five children were executed by the Bolsheviks. In 1964, in accepting the Republican presidential nomination in San Francisco, Barry M. Coldwater said “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” and that “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”Conditions in Iraq show Pentagon’s lack of planning AUSTIN — I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from Hades. I’d rather not see my prediction come true, but I don’t think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. If this thing turns into Vietnam simply because that man is too vain and arrogant to admit that Gen. Erie Shinseki was right when he said we would need “several hundred thousand soldiers” over there, I hope Rumsfeld rots in a Hades worse than the one he’s making. Now is not the time to stand back timidly hoping it will work out well in the end. The population of Baghdad is broiling through the 115-degree summer without electricity or water for much of the time. Given the background poverty and generally hideous conditions, the place is a major riot waiting to happen. As we have known ever since the Kerner Commission Report, all it takes is a couple of bad policing incidents to set one off. Molly Ivins It is more than painfully apparent the Pentagon did somewhere between inadequate to zero planning for the occupation, despite the equally apparent fact this war was settled on more than a year in advance and intelligence was bent to support it. Hugh Parmer (formerly of Fort Worth), head of the American Refugee Committee, was in Iran and Iraq at the beginning of the summer, the first non-governmental organization to go in because ARC had privately funded relief supplies. He was fairly shaken by what he found. Among other things, the crack disaster-relief team he created while he was with USAID under President Clinton was sitting around filing their fingernails because the military was rejecting all advice from civilians in favor of doing it their way. Since the military is in this mess precisely because it is not well-trained at peacekeeping, you’d think it’d have enough sense to ask people who’ve been there and done that. That would include the United Nations and NATO. Parmer was there while Gen. Jay Gamer, Rumfeld’s choice, was still in charge. Clearly, that was a mistake, but Paul Bremer, the current viceroy, also seems to have thin credentials. He is described as a diplomat, but he’s actually a counterterrorism expert with business ties to many major corporations. We don’t need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers — we need people who know how to fix water and power plants. The late Fred Cuny, of Dallas, who was killed in Chechnya, is exactly the kind of person needed in Baghdad. Cuny was an engineer and a sort of Milo Minderbinder, who could find, fix and finagle anything, no matter how disastrous the war zone. He was chiefly famous for his work in Sarajevo during the siege there. He ran a small, private company out of Dallas and always said the only reason he charged for his services was that governments don’t listen to advice unless they pay for it. I don’t know whose idea it was to cancel municipal elections in Iraq, but it looked awful. We fought the war to bring democracy to Iraq, remember? Anyone there with any sense of public relations? Setting up an “advisory council” in Baghdad isn’t going to cut it. Maj. Gen. Carl Strock said Monday electricity and water in Baghdad are still below prewar levels. The New York Times noted, “The assessment appeared to mn counter to earlier assurances by the Pentagon...." Rumsfeld, with his usual cocksure breeziness, said May 15: “A few areas have challenges, to be sure. But most areas are progressing, and a growing number actually have conditions that are today estimated to be better than prior to the recent war.” What number, from what to what? Out of how many? When is the Washington press corps going to figure out that’s precisely the kind of statement by Rumsfeld that needs extensive deconstruction? The New Republic’s ruthless dissection of the administration’s lies, deceptions and flimflam in its June 30 issue (don’t miss it) is a stinging rebuke to the disgraceful level of journalism we are now getting in this country. Have you ever read anything as tortured and ridiculous as Ari Fleischer’s non-admission admission Bush lied about the supposed Iraq-Niger uranium deal? Not even Clinton with his “depends on what the definition of is is" could top that one. Do look it up. OI’ “Bring ’em on” Bush talks tough and can’t even figure out how to find the right stick. (Molly Ivins is a syndicated columnist.) ;