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New York Post

Patriotism Trumps Pols' Pander

January 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002
New York Post Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Score one more victory for the U.S. armed forces - this time in the courtroom: U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler has dismissed Puerto Rico Gov. Sila M. Calderorne's suit attempting to halt the Navy's shelling exercises on the islet of Vieques .

Calderone brought the suit under a 1972 law that gives state and local governments the power to regulate noise pollution. She charges that the training causes health problems; the Navy says that the island is essential for the proper training of aviators and naval gunners.

But Kessler didn't rule on the merits of either claim. Rather, she found that the Noise Control Act was not meant to "create a private action for violations by a federal entity of the state and local environmental noise requirements."

In other words, Puerto Rico can't use that law to sue the feds for violating local statutes.

The decision continues the Navy's recent winning streak vis--vis Vieques . Last month, as part of a defense spending bill, Congress voided the scheduled Puerto Rico referendum on continued testing.

Lawmakers even barred the Navy from closing the training range until it finds a suitable replacement. That voids the Bush administration's earlier decision to stop training in 2003.

Sept. 11 has crystallized in most right-thinking people's minds the essential need for America's military to be operating at maximum efficiency.

Gov. Calderone, however, has signaled her intention to appeal Judge Kessler.

Fine. Such is her right.

We hope that, say, Gov. Pataki - or any other vote-pandering New York pol - will not be filing a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a Calderone appeal.

Politicians need to understand that - given all that's happened over the past four months - selfishly misguided attempts to woo Latino voters should take a back seat to overarching national security concerns.

There's a war still on.

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