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    Letters to the Editors

    Sen. Graham is helping to keep public informed

    © St. Petersburg Times
    published October 9, 2002

    The Times' Oct. 6 interview with Sen. Bob Graham was an eye opener ("We can't look at Iraq in isolation'). I appreciated the direct and informative questions and answers. Hats off to Paul De La Garza and Mary Jacoby for trying to inform readers and get information previously unknown about the consequences of war with Iraq.

    Why are more news people not asking probing questions and pushing to declassify information on terrorist cells within the United States that could retaliate in the event of war? Our news media seem to accept the rhetoric given by the government, and the news departments are hesitant to disagree or probe further. When you turn on the TV news it's all the same, one viewpoint and that is the government's -- it almost seems scripted. What happened to opposition and freedom of press? If it wasn't for public radio stations, we wouldn't even know about the facts we need to take into account before we decide if we are for or against attacking Iraq.

    Sen. Graham was open and honest and it took a lot of courage to advise the public that the CIA, FBI and this administration are classifying information that we should know before we send our young people into battle. Why are the intelligence agencies and the Defense Department unwilling to advise us of their estimates of how many American service personnel and Iraqi civilians would die in the various invasion scenarios? Why have we not been told about the threat inside the United States by Iraq and various international terrorist organizations? Information that relates to threats and possible action against citizens of the United States not as soldiers in combat, but as citizens living in otherwise peaceful communities should be given to the American people. We have every right to know that.

    Since when did the government feel it had the right to make decisions that affect American lives and not tell the people? Do we no longer live in an open society? I hope people will read this chilling prospect of possible outcomes if we pursue this war given by a politician who is respected by Republican and Democrats alike.
    -- Patty Jay, Tampa

    Sen. Graham's courageous stance

    I want to thank Sen. Bob Graham for his courageous stance in speaking out about President Bush's headlong rush toward war with Iraq. He is acting as our representatives should and is good example of what John Kennedy praised in his book Profiles in Courage. He has always been a public servant with high integrity in both the Senate and as governor.

    We have had an opportunity to help correct the problems in the Middle East. President Bush has ignored the real problems and pursued the use of overt force. We need to assess what we have been doing to exacerbate the problems there. High on the list is the unconditional support of the repressive regime currently in power in Israel. This regime started the conflict with the Palestinians and stopped the peace process that had been faltering for some time. Bush has done very little to condemn this type of terrorist activity. I believe that if you look at the official U.S. definition of terrorist states, you would have to conclude that Israel is a terrorist state because of its use of its military against civilians. How can Bush condemn Saddam Hussein for his poor treatment of Iraqis on the one hand and be virtually silent about Israel's excessive use of force on the Palestinians?

    Is it any wonder that we are despised in the Middle East? We need to correct this double standard and stand up for the rights of people who are repressed. What tremendous good would we do if we began openly helping the Palestinians rebuild their homes and their economy? Why are we not doing this? If we apply our principles fairly, we will win the respect of the people in the area and silence the hate-mongers who rail against us. This is the real way to fight the war on terrorism.
    -- Ron Pehmoeller, Largo

    Alarming news

    The interview with U.S. Sen. Bob Graham was excellent in terms of information, the broad implications of military action (avoiding unintended consequences), enhancing Americans' knowledge and interest in foreign affairs and going to the source, his chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I have noted when Sen. Graham and his Republican counterpart Sen. Richard Shelby appear on television they seem to have a shared view of the issues involving terrorism, war on Iraq and the intelligence community's pluses and minuses. What is eye catching and frightening to me is the growing news (and apparent disclosure) of sleeper cells in our country bent on commiting terrorist acts internally. If accurate, then I don't think the public is well prepared physically and emotionally to deal with serious incidents.

    Even Sen. Graham can't provide us with answers to some of the tough questions in the interview and to a very difficult concern of internal security. What is the real public attitude about the nature of this threat and what will the public tolerate as government and law enforcement work to prevent terrorism within the framework of our Constitution?
    -- James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg

    Lacking leadership

    I write about the Bush doctrine of "anticipatory self-defense" as a former U.S. Army artillery officer and commander of a U.S. nuclear missile team, and a strong proponent of a superior U.S. military. Anticipatory self-defense should be, if anything, about ways to secure enduring global peace and justice. It's not about unjustifiably attacking others who assuredly, over time and with good reason, will find multiple lethal ways to avenge these attacks. This lunacy of the highest order is adolescent behavior that mature adults are supposed to have outgrown.

    We are led by vacuous and highly ideological war-mongers who have never worn a military uniform. With illusions of invulnerability and a belief in their inherent morality, these men and women are motivated by power, campaign politics and deluded visions of imperialism.

    These are the same "leaders" who have bankrupted our treasury, destroyed our economy, devastated the stock market, trashed our environmental laws, filled our people's minds with fear, and soured our relationships with other countries.

    To further their transparent aims, they would have countless American and Iraqi military men and women slaughter each other and innocent Iraqi civilians including children. This is wicked and immoral. Yet, despite the passionate legitimate objections of the majority of American citizens, we proceed down this depraved and repulsive road.

    There is something very wrong in our country. We need to examine closely the evils that exists here before we point our fingers abroad at anyone. Where, so many of us ask, is the visionary leadership our world so desperately craves? It's not here.
    -- Joseph R. Simonetta, Sarasota

    Striking now could save millions

    I am saddened by the numerous people who are protesting a U.S. strike against Iraq. These people seem to think that doing nothing will keep us safe or that there are other alternatives to disarming Iraq.

    Most people don't seem to recall the phrase about history tending to repeat itself. The United States stayed out of foreign affairs before on two separate occasions. Prior to World War I and prior to World War II. Both times, we were hit and had to react. Today, we have taken on a role as the global police officer, because we don't want another Pearl Harbor. But it happened.

    After the Sept. 11 attacks, the world saw just how vulnerable we really were. Iraq supports terrorism, it pays reward money to the families of suicide bombers, and it (specifically Saddam Hussein) hates us. The opinion of those protesters would be a lot different if a chemical, biological, or nuclear attack had happened while they were protesting. It isn't happening now, but if we don't act soon, it could in the future.

    People need to remember that war is no longer a regional thing. A war can be fought with terrorists through more uncommon means. A bomb in a mall, a biological attack in the grocery store, a dirty bomb in a school. They don't fight fair; women and children look like soldiers to them.

    This is a serious problem that really needs to be addressed. Protesting something that can save millions makes no sense at all. I am a reserve Marine, and I have no problem of going over there, because I know the possible result if we don't. Think people, think.
    -- Gregory G. Jarmon Jr., Largo

    History repeats itself

    Those who will not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them . . .

    There were many in 1940, an election year, who fervently and justifiably urged the nation's leaders to concentrate on pulling America out of the deepest depression the world had ever known.

    As for Hitler: he was half a world away, and Europe's problem, not ours.
    -- Dale Robbins, Sarasota

    Not one American life

    I am not willing to stake one American life on trusting George W. Bush.
    -- Brent Yaciw, Wesley Chapel

    A duel could spare innocent lives

    Re: Iraqi VP suggests Bush, Hussein duel, Oct. 4.

    I was truly amazed to hear Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan suggest a duel between Saddam Hussein and George Bush to settle the current dispute. What a noble idea! Just think of the untold thousands of innocent lives that could be spared.

    Come on, President Bush, go for it! Get a United Nations resolution that will hold Saddam Hussein to it. Don't let him slip out of this one. The added bonus would be that for once and for all, we could show the whole world what personal bravery and moral integrity are all about.

    Polish up that sword! And listen for the applause that will resound clear to the next planet.
    -- Elizabeth Wood, Lecanto

    Unforgivable actions

    As the wife and daughter of career military men, I am outraged that while we are at war, two congressional representatives sided with the enemy. The pro-Saddam Hussein speeches made in Iraq against our American president support Lenin's contention that the best destructors of liberty are often those from within, not external forces.

    Rep. Jim McDermott and Rep. David Bonior may not be guilty of treason, but they are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. They are worse than Jane Fonda, a misguided young woman who aided the North Vietnamese while Americans were dying in South Vietnam. Bonior and McDermott are elected representatives who supposedly speak for the people of their state, and therefore, are supposedly intelligent people. They have had better access to pertinent facts regarding Hussein's slaughter of his own people, his violation of U.N. resolutions, his continual shooting at American planes in the "no-fly zones" than the majority of the American populace, yet they have ignored these facts. One can only surmise that it is for political gain.

    They mistrust our American president and support a murderer. McDermott deserves censure at the very least, and to be booted from office during the next election. Both deserve shunning.
    -- Kathryn van Heyningen, Palm Harbor

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