Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: Take private firms out of surveillance


The NSA relies on many contractors | June 11

Choice of profit or professionals

Somewhat lost in the furor over the surveillance of citizens' privacy by the massive NSA program to sweep up and store personal communications is the fact that this function has been increasingly outsourced to private industry.

There has been little discussion of the system that allows defense contractors, whose primary allegiance is to profit, to hire employees with questionable credentials or backgrounds in the primary pursuit of a greater share of bloated defense spending. The transition of critical security functions from a middle-class professional government workforce to private sector opportunists has resulted in the loss of professionalism.

The somewhat-rare private enterprise employee who questions the legality or ethics of a program in which he or she is engaged has no means of addressing his or her concerns (such as consulting an inspector general). As noted in the current case of Booz Allen Hamilton, the choice was to resign or, due to conscience and a lack of a credible sense of the big picture, to go public and disclose classified information that could result in harm to us all.

We need to reprofessionalize our national security functions with citizens having a longer perspective, and who have outlets to address concerns that are not available in private industry.

Thom Kenning, Valrico

The NSA relies on many contractors | June 11

Information not secure

Personal phone records and email records retained by the National Security Agency are not secure, and never will be. As an information systems manager for almost 50 years, I know someone in "the back room" (actually thousands of someones in the case of NSA) has access to the personal information of all American citizens, even up to and including the president.

When such systems are developed, tested and run by the technical staff, these staffers must have access to information contained in these systems to ensure they are working. During this testing and maintenance activity, many citizens' personal records are retrieved. Our personal records will be accessible by these "back-room technicians" again and again.

Jay Hall, Tampa

Obama defends U.S. spy efforts | June 8

Government deception

So President Barack Obama now welcomes a debate over the issues of security and privacy. No reasonably thinking American can object to the importance of both, even if there is disagreement on the balance between the two. And a debate on the subject is important, given the conditions we live in today.

However, every American of my generation and younger has learned to distrust government and the politicians who run it. Strip away the niceties of language: The reason is that government lies. Lyndon Johnson and his administration lied about the Gulf of Tonkin. Richard Nixon and his administration lied about government abuse and excess. Bill Clinton lied under oath. Now James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, lied when he said in March that his agency was not "wittingly" collecting information on the American people. Obama Attorney General Eric Holder either lied to a FISA judge or the Congress about James Rosen's role.

If the president had really wanted a debate, it should not have taken a criminal act of leaking to generate it. Simply telling the American people the truth would have accomplished the same thing.

Peter D. Klingman, Tampa

Outrage is misplaced | June 12, letter

Role reversals

The political "dance macabre" that is taking place is amazing. I find so many "conservatives" siding with the president on this issue of eavesdropping on U.S. citizens. I find it equally amazing how many so-called "liberals" like myself are beyond angry and disturbed by the government's prying into people's lives via their emails, phone calls and other previously private parts of their everyday lives.

How can anyone think of Bradley Manning as an enemy of the state, let alone seditious, when he was answering to the inner, moral voice that told him to speak out against the inhumanity and violence that he observed?

Ron Thuemler, Tampa

Afghan attack kills 3 from U.S. | June 9

Withdrawal overdue

Last week, three Americans were shot and killed by one of the Afghans they were training. This will continue as long as we are in Afghanistan. We have lost 2,100 troops to date.

Can anyone seriously believe Afghanistan will ever be a functioning democracy? When we leave in 2014 at a cost of many more lives and millions of dollars to a corrupt regime, Afghanistan will likely revert to the Islamic tribal society that has existed for centuries. When will we learn that we cannot impose our form of democracy on those who don't want it? We have failed in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan to date.

We should save those lives that will be lost between now and 2014 by leaving Afghanistan today or as soon as logistically possible.

Harold H. Dean, St. Petersburg

Roadways may get flowers | June 10

Let this idea bloom

My wife and I have, on many occasions, enjoyed the beautiful wildflowers along the shoulders of many of the roads in North Carolina. It was therefore a nice surprise to read of Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham's proposal to encourage such natural beauty along his county's highways.

We only hope that this idea will "grow legs," no pun intended, and that it will spread into Pinellas and beyond. Nothing would do more to beautify our state highways.

Julian Fant, Treasure Island

Positive legacy

Finally, on the 500th anniversary of "La Florida" (the land of flowers), we are getting the message. Florida has so many beautiful native plants that can be showcased as part of ecotourism.

As the article mentioned, other states have been planting wildflowers along highways for decades. With grant money available, it is a win-win situation. Tourists do not go home and show pictures of the latest overpass or six-lane road. They see our beautiful native wildflowers and go home and ask about doing the same in their area.

I will praise the commissioners every time I see the roadside flowers. This is their positive legacy that will be enjoyed by everyone.

Susan Watson, Dover


Tuesday’s letters: Disgraceful tax proposals

Tax billDisgraceful, harmful proposalsThe very fact that the Congress of the people of the United States would propose, not to mention pass, the current tax bill is nothing short of disgraceful. What sort of representatives of the people support cutt...
Published: 11/20/17

Monday’s letters: Doctors should speak up on harassment

Sexual harassmentDoctors need to speak upThe recent widespread recognition, followed by disapproval, of sexual harassment across many workplaces signals a paradigm shift in social attitudes toward abuse of power that is long overdue.The male-dominate...
Published: 11/17/17

Saturday’s letters: Reservoir project off to a good start

Lake OkeechobeeReservoir project off to good startThis year, more than 70,000 Floridians contacted their legislators to support expediting a reservoir project south of Lake Okeechobee. Another 150 business people, anglers, health care professionals a...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Sunday’s letters: Roundabout way to help the rich

Senate GOP’s tax plan to kill ACA mandate | Nov. 15Devious way to hurt middle classSo, let’s see if we have this straight. The proposed amendment to the Senate tax plan, to kill the individual mandate, will cause young people to not buy health in...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Friday’s letters: Stop laying blame on teachers

Hillsborough teachers are set to protest | Nov. 14Stop laying blame on teachersI am a veteran teacher, coming up on 30 years of service to public education. My mother was also an educator, clocking over 40 years of service in public education. Sh...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Nov. 17

Questioning fees draws snarky responseYou are probably aware of the new Pasco utility fees that became effective last month.Under the dubious title of "convenience fee" for making utility payments by credit card or e-check, Pasco Utilities adds $2.75...
Published: 11/15/17

Dollars need to stay at home if south Brooksville is to survive

As a member of the Moton High School Class of 1967, I grew up a poor but very happy child because of the love given to me by all. So all I had to do was be a child and not rush to be an adult.There were many black businesses along a four-block area o...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Wednesday’s letters: Generosity makes all the difference

National Adoption MonthThe difference generosity makesAs a football coach, I always had to be ready to overcome unexpected challenges. With injuries, crowd noise and especially weather, the game plan is always adjusting to overcome adversity.Our stat...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17

Monday’s letters: Moore is not fit for public office

Woman: Candidate pursued her as a teen | Nov. 10Moore is not fit for public officeIt is sad that Roy Moore, a self-professed religious man, is running for a Senate seat when he is clearly unfit for any job involving the public for so many reasons...
Published: 11/10/17
Updated: 11/13/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t fall for the tax cut ruse

Tax billDon’t take your eye off the ballThe rush is on. The Republican Congress is rushing to pass a modest tax cut for the middle class while giving corporations a massive tax cut. While taking away some of the tax deductions from ordinary taxpayers...
Published: 11/10/17