The opening sentence of Charles Babington's Sept. 9 news story, "Clinton is Questioned in Probe of Labor Secretary," speaks volumes about the ethical standards to which Bill Clinton holds himself and those he has chosen to be part of his administration:

"One day after congratulating former housing secretary Henry G. Cisneros for surviving an independent counsel investigation with a light sentence, President Clinton was questioned under oath for an hour in the investigation of another Cabinet member, Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman."

Only in the Clinton era is a light criminal sentence something worthy of celebration. After all, it's not as though Mr. Cisneros avoided a prison sentence because he was acquitted of the charges against him. Rather, Mr. Clinton offered his congratulations to Mr. Cisneros for avoiding prison despite his admission that he knowingly gave false statements to the FBI during a probe of his background.

One would expect that a president with a sense of ethics and values would be embarrassed by and condemn such blatant disregard for the truth by someone in his administration. But most of us long ago gave up on Mr. Clinton's ability to feel a sense of shame about any disreputable act to which he or any member of this administration may be connected.

MICHAEL E. HURLEY

Falls Church