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Abuse of Power Didn't Peak With Watergate

I appreciate the Monitor's high level of journalism, but I wish to take issue with a point in "Anniversary-gate" (June 17), the editorial on Watergate and Clinton's campaign finance woes. There is a widespread problem with the news media using Watergate as the pinnacle of abuse of executive authority (as evidenced by the overused "gate" suffix).

We have a more recent and far graver case in the Reagan administration's Iran-contra scandal. While Watergate was clearly a serious criminal abuse of power, the National Security Council (NSC) under Reagan not only sold weapons to Iran to fund the Nicaraguan contras, both illegal activities, but it also made the NSC an extra-constitutional shadow government, complete with budget and foreign policy. Cloaked in "patriotism," this resulted in virtually no repercussions for the actors, thanks in part to George Bush's unconscionable pre-trial pardon of Caspar Weinberger. The lack of consequences for the criminal activity of the NSC and probably the executive branch should give us pause when considering whether our democracy can be threatened from within. The Iran-contra scandal has made little impact on the public consciousness. Part of the responsibility lies with the news media's passing references to it and fixation on Watergate. I would hope the Monitor would give Iran-contra the infamous place it deserves. Rafael K. Reyes San Francisco Another vote for Amtrak As a member of the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) and a Future Travel Professional member of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), I must respond to your "Getting Amtrak on Track" (June 19) editorial. I have used Amtrak for three long-distance round trips in the past seven years and experienced the difference that capital improvements can make - new coach/sleeper cars, delicious food service, and friendly staff who truly enjoy their jobs. On these routes, 79 miles per hour is unfortunately the rule. Confined to the miserable freight tracks, Amtrak has no dedicated swift rails of its own. …


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