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'Dirty Attitude in a Dirty Little War'

May 10, 1987

The Reagan Administration's indifference to the coldblooded execution of an American citizen working to provide electricity to a backward Nicaraguan village demonstrates a policy double standard so callous and unfair that it is totally unbefitting our democratic system.

There could not be a more blatant and heartless act of terrorism than the killing of Linder. If this incident had taken place almost anywhere else in the world, the Administration's cries of outrage would echo through the media for weeks. However, because the victim happened to disagree with the President's policy regarding Nicaragua, we are told that Americans who work in places of civil unrest do so at their own risk. This is, to put it mildly, somewhat inconsistent with the policy that launched a full-scale bombing mission against Libya because of evidence linking that country to a blast in Berlin.

That Linder knew the risks is not the question. Many hostages and victims of terrorism are well aware of entering into risky situations prior to becoming hostages or victims of terrorism. The point is, as an American citizen, Linder is entitled to his country's protection in spite of any differences he might have had with the present Administration's policy. At the very least, he is entitled to the same expression of outrage that would accompany the death of any other American in similar circumstances anywhere else in the world. The issue here is fundamental to our republic, for to long tolerate a situation where the government's concern is contingent upon agreement with the President is to tolerate the erosion of liberty.

MATTHEW LAWRENCE

Los Angeles

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