Records, the CIA and the truth | May 24, Robyn Blumner column
CIA serves nation with diligence
Robyn Blumner reached as far back as the late '70s in her accusation of CIA transgressions, yet overlooked a note from a former director just last month.
On April 25, former CIA director Porter Goss noted in the Washington Post that when he was chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence in 2002 the CIA repeatedly briefed the "Gang of Four" (the nom de guerre for the ranking minority and majority members of the Senate and House) on the status and activity of enemy interrogations.
When I was an agency officer I briefed members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's party with the same candor, forthrightness and honesty that I did for Goss' party. I will tell you what records I kept. None. Not a one. It was, and still is, inappropriate for individual officers to maintain such records.
The CIA's Office of Congressional Affairs is the central point of contact in providing subject matter experts for Congress upon demand. Every request is duly logged, tracked and scheduled, including follow-up meetings. Could Pelosi have missed a briefing or two? Absolutely. Congress gets busy just like everyone else.
If she missed a meeting there would be records from her office as well as the CIA's. If she was absent when such briefings took place, surely she requested a rescheduling or back briefing. Has she offered any such records of her own? No. Perhaps it's not the agency's record- keeping that requires our scrutiny.
The men and women of the CIA serve this nation regardless of which party holds the White House or the Capitol building.
T.J. Waters, St. Petersburg
Records, the CIA and the truth | May 24, Robyn Blumner column
Republicans engage in partisan posturing
The ongoing wringing of the hands and gnashing of the teeth by Republican talking heads over who was told, what they were told and when they knew about torture again displays their total hypocritical and partisan approach to every issue they address. I believe the detailed logs kept by Bob Graham, a statesman who served Florida and the United States well, instead of the negative spin doctors from the GOP. All Americans, regardless of party, should want to know who authorized torture and who committed it.
Republicans continue their attacks to "find" the truth and the most vocal ones are hypocrites who should be mindful of their own transgressions: Dick Cheney, the five-time draft dodger, pushed the Iraq war. Newt Gingrich pursued the sexual problems of President Bill Clinton at the same time he was having an affair. Rush Limbaugh preaches family values but went doctor shopping for painkillers.
It is high time that we find statesmen to be our leaders. Politicians are out to make a name for themselves and garner power. They will do or say anything that keeps them in office.
Dale Gottschalk, Hudson
Blame benchmarks for lavish CEO pay May 24, Perspective story
A simple pay solution
Ray Fisman's observation on executive pay is correct and I think a serious problem.
Here's a simple solution: Limit executive pay to X times the average pay of all the company's employees. Outstanding performance can be rewarded with a clear monetary bonus on profits earned. Perhaps a simple and novel approach.
Roger C.Fleck, Seminole
Cancer's common ground in Mideast May 24, Perspective story
A wise instructor
Dr. Lodovico Balducci's column reflects his knowledge and compassion for all human beings. Years ago, I had the pleasure and good fortune to hear him speak at two different conferences for health professionals. Then he demonstrated these same attributes. As a teacher at the University of South Florida, he is surely imparting these talents to his students. As a wise instructor who demonstrates compassion and a willingness to listen and learn, he gives wonderful gifts to his students.
When these women and men begin their own practices, their patients will benefit from these special gifts. Dr. Balducci's ability to be fair-minded and open to others' customs and opinions is a quality that all of us can emulate. His instructive column goes beyond cancer care and common ground in the Mideast. It's a formula for appreciating our own freedom but using it to understand others.
Lilyan Dayton, New Port Richey
Alas, his trove must go | May 25, story
Lovers of fine music
I want to thank John Barry and the St. Petersburg Times for this article about Jack Wickel and his fine collection of vinyl recordings. One does not read much about such a man with such a love for great music anymore, very unfortunately.
I still have a somewhat smaller collection of classical, jazz and other recordings (many on the Deutche Grammophon label), which I began in the mid 1960s while stationed in West Germany with the U.S. Army. I found that nobody much wanted the classical recordings at the post exchange, and thus began my journey into fine music. My stereo equipment is old, but still serviceable, 1970s vintage.
I sincerely hope that Jack Wickel finds a good home for his collection. Had I the funds, I'd purchase the recordings in a second, but, alas, I cannot do so.
Mr. Wickel, take heart. My 21-year-old son, a journalism senior at the University of Florida, has begun his own collection of vinyl records, and shares the same with his dad, age 67. God bless you. I wish you peace.
David C. Cumming, Clearwater
Rise of the word nerds | May 29, story
Top spellers deserved better
I was dismayed to see the front-page headline that labeled the Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants as "nerds" and then go on to further degrade these kids with terms like "geek" and wearers of "high-riding, tightly belted khaki pants."
These kids are inspiring, enthusiastic about learning and brave enough to compete before their peers and a national television audience. Too bad your headline writer couldn't include a more inspiring and accurate description for these winners.
Heather Mudrick, Tampa
Too soon to lift water ban | May 28, editorial
Who needs to water?
Since we are getting loads of rain, almost daily, why the rush to lift the watering restrictions! My lawn is getting plenty of water. Isn't yours?
B.J. Mitchell, St. Petersburg