New York Times
President Bush rightly intervened yesterday in the labor dispute between shipping companies and dockworkers that has shut down operations at 29 West Coast ports. The disruption of a substantial amount of the nation's trade posed a serious threat to an already ailing economy.
Government intervention in collective bargaining is never desirable, but the ports' closure since Sept. 29 is precisely the kind of threat to the national "health or safety" that Congress envisioned when it passed the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. The law allows a president to seek a court-ordered injunction for an 80-day cooling-off period in the event of a strike or lockout. After determining that there was no chance of an imminent resolution to the 10-day-old lockout, President Bush ordered Attorney General John Ashcroft yesterday to seek the injunction. A federal court in San Francisco issued it later in the afternoon, clearing the way for the longshoremen to return to work. ...
National labor leaders were angry at Mr. Bush's intervention. Their anger is misplaced. While they are perfectly within their rights to defend their members' bargaining power, they must recognize that thousands of union jobs in other industries are also in the balance, and that most other presidents would have taken similar action under the circumstances.
The shipping companies, for their part, may have counted on a presidential intervention when they ordered the lockout in reaction to an alleged slowdown after the collective agreement lapsed. They must now engage the union in good-faith negotiations during this 80-day cooling-off period.
Without the political covering fire of a bureaucracy, political party, interest group or congressional committee -- which invariably are available to witnesses who are currently in office -- former FBI Director Louis Freeh made a nonetheless strong and justified defense of his eight years of service to the country. Refusing to play the role of scapegoat assigned to him by the House and Senate intelligence committee staffs, Mr. Freeh coolly and methodically pointed out many of the other Washington players who blocked his persistent efforts to fight terrorism while in office.
He reminded the congressmen that it was they who turned down his request in fiscal year 2000 for 864 new counter-terrorism positions. They gave him seven. He reminded them of the multiyear fight he had with Congress to try to persuade it to fund an update for the FBI's antiquated computer system -- a failed system that has come in for much congressional finger-pointing over the last year of recriminations. He ticked off the several laws passed by Congress and fiercely enforced by then-Attorney General Janet Reno that barred the FBI from investigating terrorism. ...
However, Mr. Freeh was too tactful to mention the conduct of former President Clinton in undercutting his ability to do his job. For those with short memories, Mr. Freeh had courageously refused to cover up for Mr. Clinton's misconduct. ... After that, Mr. Clinton missed few opportunities to undercut Mr. Freeh. ...
And yet, despite this unprecedented presidential assault on an FBI director, Mr. Freeh went on to establish, for the first time in the FBI's history, vital new counter-terrorism offices throughout the troubled Middle East and elsewhere. ...
But Mr. Freeh readily admitted that there are limitations to what any law enforcement agency can accomplish against terrorism. He claimed no more successes than the facts would clearly support. At some point, he noted in his testimony, the struggle must shift from law enforcement to diplomacy, foreign policy and, if necessary, war. Had Mr. Clinton listened to such advice years ago -- and declared war on al Qaida instead of on his own FBI director -- Congress might not feel the need to be looking for scapegoats now.
San Francisco Chronicle
Like a tough-minded prosecutor, President Bush made his case against Saddam Hussein in measured, forceful terms. But doubters were left with important questions unanswered as he takes the country to the precipice of war.
In a summation of his position, Bush laid out Hussein's murderous record as "a student of Stalin" and his disregard for United Nations agreements to disarm after the Gulf War.
No argument there, Mr. President.
But the speech fell short on other scores. His evidence of Hussein's near-term nuclear capability was questionable. A smoking-gun link between Baghdad and al Qaida leaders was not established. The "imminent threat" to the United States to justify a pre-emptive strike was implied, not shown. ...
Bush has not made the case for a war he wants Congress to sanction.
Hawaii and Alaska have been spared from further isolation created by the West Coast dockworkers dispute, but not from its potentially enormous effect on the American economy. White House intervention does not guarantee a resolution of the conflict but it is worth the attempt to avoid economic turmoil that would result from a prolonged work stoppage.
President Bush had been reluctant to invoke the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which could result in an order that ports be in operation for as long as 80 days while labor-management talks continue. Presidents have sought such cooling-off periods in 11 coast-wide strikes, but the strikes resumed after the 80 days in eight of those instances. A back-to-work injunction prompted by a management-ordered lockout is believed to be unprecedented. ...
The U.S. economy should not be imperiled by a union clinging to antiquated work methods, nor should union members be excluded from operating modern equipment that has become basic to the industry elsewhere. Shippers and dockworkers should be able to find a way -- like employers and unions in other industries -- to accept available technology without disruption of the workplace.
Once again, government in Northern Ireland is a matter of ultimatums, deadlines and threats by unionists to walk out if London doesn't do what they want. The resumption of normal politics is excruciatingly slow.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair will consult with his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, and others before deciding what to do about First Minister David Trimble's demand that Blair move to expel Sinn Fein, the political affiliate of the Irish Republican Army, from the administration in Belfast. Failing that, Trimble said he would withdraw his Ulster Unionist ministers, which would likely force a resumption of direct rule from London for the fourth time in three years.
The current uproar is over the discovery from a police raid on the party's offices that a Sinn Fein operative had documents detailing personal lives of the British army commander and of police officers. These would be useful for "targeting" the subjects in assassination attempts, the unionists claim.
Among the others Blair will be seeing will be Gerry Adams, the head of Sinn Fein. It does seem that his party owes the other parties and the public a satisfactory answer to the question: If Sinn Fein is fully committed to the Good Friday peace agreement, as it says it is, why is it collecting targeting information four years later?
Des Moines Register
President Bush made a coherent and compelling case against Iraq Monday night. It was less a call to arms, however, than a call to be concerned. While there is good reason for concern about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, it is not yet time to declare war on Iraq.
The president reiterated the evidence: Iraq's stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons; its willingness to use those and other weapons on its own people and its neighbors; its progress on nuclear weapons; its ties to terrorists; its hatred for the United States; its flagrant violation of the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire agreement.
None of that is new, but Bush said the events of Sept. 11 showed that the United States cannot wait for "final proof" or a "smoking gun" before taking action to confront such a threat to America's security.
No one would disagree. The question, however, is what action is appropriate at this point. Bush wants open-ended authority to go to war against Iraq, if necessary, and Congress is poised to give it to him. That would be premature: Important steps must first be taken before the president is authorized to launch a full-scale war to topple the leader of Iraq. ...
In Monday night's address, President Bush softened his Iraq-war rhetoric of recent weeks. He said military action is not "imminent or unavoidable." Rather than calling for a "regime change," the president said Saddam could stay in power if he meets U.S. demands designed to neutralize the threat Saddam poses for the world.
In that vein, Congress should fully support the president's goals in Iraq, in concert with the United Nations and with the Gulf War allies. It can do that, however, without giving the president a blank check to conduct a war against Saddam and the people of Iraq.
You, you and you -- all of you. President Bush traveled to Cincinnati Monday night to make his case directly to you that the United States must keep marching at double-time toward war with Iraq.
Were you persuaded? Even though Mr. Bush's speech was focused and well delivered, even though some of his points are true, here's why you should be calling your U.S. representatives and senators today. Here's why you should urge them to slow the breakneck momentum toward war.
This war, sold as necessary to safeguard Americans from terror, has as much potential to make the world less safe for Americans as it does to protect them.
Mr. Bush, to his credit, mentioned nearly all of the criticisms that have been made about his determination that Saddam is a nemesis who must be disposed of right away. Mr. Bush, merely repeated, with more emphasis, the unsatisfying answers his administration has given all along. ...
But, before charging into war, it is incumbent upon the president to answer vital questions posed by some in Congress and among our allies. Mr. Bush has not done that, though he has done a masterful political job of silencing the House and Senate.
Those chambers, voting on an Iraq resolution this week, should summon the nerve to do what the American public is so clearly asking them to do: Get better answers to serious questions.
(Compiled by United Press International)