Sen. Leahy's Glass House

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Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, writes that President Bush's defense budget is misguided because so little money is allocated "to improve the pitiful living conditions of more than a third of the world's people" ("Achilles' heel on terror," March 4).

Mr. Leahy's budget figures are fuzzy, just as were his figures regarding how many nominees were confirmed by the Judiciary Committee ("Mr. Leahy's fuzzy math," Editorials, Dec. 3, 2001). He wants $5 billion as "an absolute minimum as a start." He says that "less than one-half of 1 percent" of Mr. Bush's budget is allocated to "these vital programs." But 0.5 percent of the budget is about $15 billion, three times Mr. Leahy's "absolute minimum."

He laments, "For years we have acted as if these conditions are of no consequence to our security, even as the world's population has outpaced the ability of many governments to provide the basic necessities of life. …