Tour bus ban near Capitol is unfair, doesn’t boost security

Your story “Big Bus Fuss” (Hillscape section, July 25) regarding the U.S. Capitol Police decision to ban tour and charter motorcoaches from the streets surrounding the legislative branch neglected to include a critical element of the story — the faulty reasoning inherent in the idea that banishing motorcoaches from the Hill would make the area more secure.

Motorcoach operators strongly agree that they shouldn’t be driving through historic Capitol Hill neighborhoods. And if the Hill police had looked more carefully at this issue, they would have determined that relegating tourist motorcoaches to residential streets isn’t enhancing our national security.

Motorcoaches bringing visitors to the Capitol are made up of group tours and charters where passengers know each other as members of the same student group, veterans organization or similar civic-minded folks who want to learn more about the epicenter of free government. They are far more likely to recognize a suspicious outsider than anonymous riders of a city transit bus.

Indeed, it makes little sense to single out motorcoach tourist groups for banishment as a security threat when all other buses are still allowed (even those government-run buses indistinguishable in appearance from tour and charter coaches), and the nature of their service makes them arguably more likely to be the source of any potential security risk.

Motorcoaches appear to be the victims of vehicle profiling, when the irony is their profile makes them least likely to pose a risk.

- From Peter J. Pantuso, president & CEO, American Bus Association, Washington

Discharge honorable

If a bunch of senators called me stupid, a liar, incompetent, arrogant, untrustworthy, a sycophant, a loser, contemptible, hostile and everything else pejorative, I’d say, “Take this job and shove it” (“Sens. say Gonzales lied,” July 25). That is what we do in real America, but Washington culture won’t let Gonzales do the honorable thing and go back to Texas. Of course, Dubya can’t afford to let him resign, because if he does, Gonzales may become hostile and antagonistic … Like they say, keep your friends close and your enemies closer! It is hard for ordinary folks like me to believe that all the people who work at the Department of Justice actually sleep at night after having worked for this guy all day.

- From S. Kris Ballal, Cookeville, Tenn.

Empower Iran opposition

Thank you for publishing the recent op-ed from Dick Armey (“Empowering the democratic opposition in Iran,” July 24). It represents a practical solution to a problem we (Iranian and American people) all have. The problem is the Iranian regime and how to deal with them. I certainly believe that the only solution is to empower opposition and let them do what they do best.

-From Moe Alafchi, Hartsdale, N.Y.

Disrespectful behavior

The first Hindu prayer to open the U.S. Senate recently occurred. What should have been both an historic and celebrated event turned into an international incident when the prayer was disrupted by three protestors who attempted to shout down the priest by insulting his faith (“Prayer protestors arrested in Senate,” July 13). These misguided protestors disrupted the U.S. Senate proceedings claiming they were “patriots.”

This wasn’t an act of patriotism but rather an act of boorish, disrespectful behavior. Regardless of our individual faith or denomination, we should respect the free religious expression of our fellow Americans. …

- From Dino Teppara and Suhail Khan, The Indian American Republican Council, Washington

Beauty nominees for ’08

(Regarding The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful, July 25.) For next year’s issue I suggest adding a “committee” [category]. We’ve got pretty cute committee staff all around, as well as Mr. Ellsworth, Mr. Shuler, and Mr. Braley as members.

I also suggest for the next issue adding the category “hottest couple,” and our office already nominates Ed and Kate Gilman (Ed works for Mr. Michaud, and Kate is on our committee staff). Thanks!

-From Zuraya Tapia, legislative clerk, House Small Business Committee, Washington