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Correspondence - October 8, 2001

Infinite justice


THE NEW REPUBLIC misreports my role in the Pan Am bombing case (Notebook, August 20). I agreed to analyze the court's decision, especially the eyewitness testimony cited by TNR for the British law firm of Needleman, Treon. I am not representing Libya or Muammar Qaddafi, and if the evidence after a full review shows that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi was guilty, then he should be punished along with anyone who put him up to it, including Qaddafi. The problem is that several sources within intelligence agencies friendly to the United States believe it is likely that this horrible terrorist act may have been committed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command and that the man [a member of that group] who bought the clothing was Abu Talb, who has engaged in previous acts of terrorism; in whose home material capable of blowing up an airplane was found; and who was also identified by the man who sold the clothing. It is these questions that have led several families of British victims of the mass murder to welcome the appeal and to demand a public inquiry. As the Reverend John Mosey, whose 19-year-old daughter was murdered, said, "I and many other relatives of the victims went on the record after the trial expressing serious concerns about the outcome. So I wouldn't be surprised if al-Megrahi was found innocent. My concern is to see justice done. I don't want to see the wrong man in prison. The worst thing for the relatives would be to see an innocent man convicted" I support these families in their effort to get at the truth, wherever it may point. I fail to understand how I can fairly be accused of a lack of sympathy for the victims if it were to turn out that this was a Palestinian rather than a Libyan terrorist bombing and if my work were to contribute to the world learning the truth.


Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law

Harvard Law School Cambridge, Massachusetts

Contingency plan


Jason Zengerle makes an interesting assertion in his report on the anti-tax protests in Tennessee: "[Don] Sundquist is fight that Tennessee needs an income tax, but he hasn't made a persuasive public case for it" ("Radio City" August 20). Now that may be true, but it's very much a contingent truth.Tennessee does not, in fact, need an income tax to sustain its present level of state spending; the very fact that a balanced budget could be put together without such a tax proves it. The additional revenue is only needed if Tennessee is to finance a vast expansion of the scope of its government.


Via the Internet

Thin ice


Your reasoning in support of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge makes no sense, particularly when coupled with your laudable support for higher fuel efficiency standards ("Over a Barrel" August 20). I'm in favor of dramatically raising fuel-efficiency standards, particularly for SUVs. But an even simpler way to eliminate the gas-guzzlers would be to stop subsidizing gasoline for American motorists. If we paid something approximating a world market price for motor fuel, SUVs would get lighter and less overpowered in a hurry. Opening even a small part of ANWR to exploration creates needless environmental risk. Worse, it would help maintain our artificially low petroleum prices and help perpetuate the very waste you decry.


Summerfield, North Carolina


Yes, caribou populations are up; yes, horizontal drilling reduces the number of holes punched in the tundra; and yes, roads can be built on ice. But no, no, and again no on your baseless assertions that what has happened on the North Slope (or anywhere else for that matter) means that drilling in ANWR is justified. There are well-documented, egregious environmental degradations in the Lower 48's refuges and forests--most notably by drilling's ugly cousin, mining. But that is, conceptually, beside the point. ANWR oil and gas will not be available for over a decade; it will provide but a scant million barrels per day--very little in terms of our daily consumption. ANWR is a wildlife refuge, a project that has intrinsic meaning worth pondering for a moment. It is not a test ground for new and exciting ways to drill oil.


Senior Economist Washington State Employment Security Department

Olympia, Washington

Miss Estonia


Benjamin Smith's Tallinn Dispatch points out noticeably growing trends of ambivalence about government among the citizens of Eastern Europe ("Western Union,' August 20). Unfortunately, there is little chance--especially in states like Hungary and Estonia, which are likely to be the first brides welcomed to the EU dance--that those governments would consider the radical notion of turning down their Western suitor. A generic monetary policy and overeager regulations are all good reasons for Eastern Europe to say no to Brussels; however, there is too much recognition, power, and money on the line for the politicians in this beauty contest, citizens be damned.


Via the Internet

Law review


I served on a nine-week cocaine trafficking trial earlier this year. Like Cass R. Sunstein, I was amazed at how reality can differ from expectation ("The Juror," August 20). We had a jury of nine men and three women; five blacks, six whites, and me (Asian American). We had less difficulty than I expected in six days of deliberations, convicting two young, black defendants on most of the charges (the kingpin faced 98; the conspirator about ten). All the minority jurors were intent on conviction, while the jurors who were protective of the defendants' rights were three white males. As someone whose biggest exposure to jury behavior had come from the sham of the O.J. Simpson trial, I found our deliberations startling, rejuvenating, and affirming.


San Francisco, California