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Journalists could use the help of retired military officers

Call it Operation Deceive the Public | May 12, editorial

Journalists could use help of retired military officers

Your editorial refers to "the reality being reported by journalists on the ground."

It was my experience during my career in the Naval Air Systems Command that whenever a major media outlet presented a story on my area of expertise, military aviation, it inevitably contained numerous important errors. Often they were so serious that they turned the conclusions offered to the public 180 degrees away from reality.

To give just one example, after the 1988 shootdown of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes, the Washington Post seized on a misstatement of Iran's F-14 Tomcat attack capabilities by one junior U.S. Navy officer. The Post put that misinformation in a front page headline when they could have easily found the facts in a copy of Jane's All the World's Aircraft.

In my opinion journalists should be glad to have the information from the in-depth access given retired military officers of broad experience. Instead of attacking the Department of Defense and the retired military, they would serve the public interests better by using that knowledge, experience and breadth of vision to determine the facts instead of printing unreliable information based on selective reporting and limited experience.

James Klapper, Oldsmar

A questionable source

Your editorial criticizing retired military officers for deceiving the public deserves a critical response from this retired military officer. This entire article was based on a report by the New York Times, a notorious ultraliberal, antimilitary, anti-Pentagon newspaper. This by itself makes the report and your editorial suspect.

Your editorial was not supported with specific names of military officers or what they said that would deceive the public. Without specifics, your readers must rely on the veracity of the New York Times and the St. Petersburg Times. This reader doesn't.

Jack Vanderbleek, colonel, U.S. Army, retired, St. Petersburg

Deceivers and dupes

Every day there are new revelations of how the Bush administration has tried to make sure that the American people are never given the truth of events leading to the war, the way the war is being carried out, and its success or lack of it.

Surely by now there cannot be any more thinking Americans who believe much of what the administration says. The Bush administration has become like any other person who tells lies: Even if they tell the truth, they are no longer believed.

The editorial blamed news media for not digging deeper and there is certainly a lot of blame to be laid there. I would go one step further and blame some of my fellow citizens. As long as people spend their time on mindless television shows and are more concerned with the latest divorces of the stars and the latest unreal "reality shows," they won't know reality until it hits them in the face. As it will.

Lucy Fuchs, Brandon

Shameful negligence puts soldiers at risk

May 8, editorial

Troops deserve better than to be sacrificed for profit

You write, with scarcely concealed outrage, that 12 American soldiers have been electrocuted by faulty electric wiring at American military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, where an American contractor, KBR, negligently installed the wiring. You also note that KBR has been paid $30-billion by the American military, which not only failed to properly inspect KBR work but actually collaborated with KBR in an attempted coverup to deflect KBR blame.

These combat troops — victims of the military-industrial complex that President Dwight Eisenhower deplored — died believing they were fighting to protect us from terrorist barbarity. Surely they deserved better from their military leaders who allowed them to be sacrificed on the altar of corporate profitability.

Joseph H. Francis, St. Petersburg

Rachel Hoffman

Victim of the war on drugs

The police said that Rachel Hoffman did not follow protocol on a drug sting. Rachel Hoffman wasn't a professional police informer with undercover training. Rachel Hoffman was a student sent into a life-threatening situation by professionals who knew that drug dealers who are involved with the quantities of drugs that Hoffman was sent to buy were the kind of people that have the potential for extreme violence. And the police wanted her to buy a gun from these people? The professionally trained police knew the risks of sending Hoffman, a college student who wanted to be a chef, into this potential death trap.

Casual drug users and large-quantity drug dealers are a world apart, but in the eyes of the police they are both the same type of criminal. Rachel Hoffman should have never been arrested in the first place. If her life was negatively affected by her drug use, then treatment might have been in order, but to put Hoffman in the company of gun and drug dealers is unconscionable.

The vast majority of illegal drug use involves marijuana, and if it were decriminalized the funding for police agencies would drop dramatically. The police agencies don't want to lose this funding so the information that we are fed demonizes marijuana. Our draconian drug laws also give the worst elements of our society, like the people that murdered Rachel Hoffman, money and power.

My heartfelt sympathies go out to Hoffman's parents and loved ones.

Gene O'Brien, Palm Harbor

Buddy Johnson

An insult to voters

The recent and disturbing stories about Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson cast significant doubt on his ability to discharge the duties of his office. Competence and class are among the most basic traits we ought to demand of those who serve the public, and Johnson's actions indicate an acute lack of both.

Johnson's bizarre, paranoid, and woefully ignorant testimony is an insult to the voters of his county. Let us hope that the candidates who challenge Johnson will offer us a level of character and competence that exceeds the incumbent's offering.

Tyler J. Hudson, Tampa

'Players' ID'd in Lutz deaths | May 14, story

Tasteless word choice

How dare you! Two children and their mother are horribly murdered — and you call them "players"?

I wonder how you would feel if the story was about your relatives? I am not related, nor do I even know the family involved, but your choice of words made me sick! You need a course in diplomacy.

C.T. Corson, New Port Richey

Journalists could use the help of retired military officers 05/14/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2008 1:29pm]
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