Letters to the Editor

Military contractors work to defend their own profits

Defense contractors find tax havens | May 8

Working in defense of their own profits
When are we as a nation going to figure it out? We buy into all this "patriotic" noise about wars to keep the enemy from our shores, but what's really going on is a huge dump of public wealth into the capacious jaws of our defense contractors. That wealth is the tax drain on our individual, at-home economies, plus enormous debts that our grandchildren will still be paying down.

The May 8 story tells of contractors setting up corporate shells offshore to dodge taxes. We've also read about major outfits like KBR (and their supposed overseers in uniform) getting billions of dollars while killing our own troops with shoddy electrical work. Not in the news recently are the pallet-loads of billions of dollars in $100 bills that have simply vanished in Iraq, or the Defense Department's priorities that put the F-22 billion-dollar jet and the V-22 Osprey ahead of fielding effective body armor, or armored vehicles that have a chance of protecting GIs against IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and EFPs (explosively formed projectiles). These are only the tips of a frozen-hearted iceberg.

"Support our troops"? What a sad joke on all of us, but especially those who, out of love of country, sign up to put themselves in harm's way on what every day makes clearer is a fool's errand.

Jon McPhee, St. Petersburg
Guantanamo prisoners uncover our shame
May 7, Nicholas Kristof column

We are faced with

a formidable enemy

Nicholas Kristof made Al-Jazeera's day with his observation that "in reality, it would take an exceptional enemy to damage America's image and interest as much as President Bush and Cheney already have with Guantanamo." He is spot on about the extraordinary nature of that enemy.

The exceptional enemy, undefined nearly seven years after 9/11, is "in reality" Sunni neo- Wahabi, combat Salafists who have been working 80 years to destroy Western values. Equally dedicated, but more lethal, petro-funded Shiite Khumenists joined the fray in 1979. Their ideology would obliterate the 52 Muslim governments on the planet in favor of a Caliphate (Sunni) or an Imamate (Shiite).

This is a first step. Neither Islamist utopia would favor democracy, pluralism and gender rights — not to mention national borders and the rule of secular law. Meantime, the New York Times focuses on personalities, not the ideology behind the global chaos.

Until Congress declares war against a defined enemy ideology (theology-inspired, but totalitarian, global jihadism — not terrorism, not terrorists), until that ideology is outlawed by the West and moderate, humanist Muslim regimes, and until a public education process begins to reverse the bad guys' eight-decade head start, our homeland security remains at the mercy of the propaganda machines of both branches of the jihadist tree.

Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg

Guantanamo prisoners uncover our shame
May 7, Nicholas Kristof column

Disdain for rights on display

For many decades, Americans have been warned about the hazards of being put into any of several Latin American jails. You could languish in there for a year before you were even charged with a crime. For us, living in a civilized democracy, such a possibility was beyond our comprehension. No modern government would be so inhuman. Americans are so blissfully naive that our government keeps allowing us to continue to believe that it is always the others who do not adhere to the basic rules of civil conduct.

The prisoners in Guantanamo have not been charged, much less convicted of any crimes. Yet, many have been prisoners longer than we kept many prisoners of war from the world wars. Why? We deny them the same rights that we, as Americans, flaunt to the world that we possess.

For every person jailed in Guantanamo, there must be dozens of others who know of their plight — family and friends — and who spread the word of the illegal, unlawful and inhuman treatment given to the prisoners. Others do not need to advertise our "denial of human rights." We are able to do a fine job of it.

Perhaps some are guilty of crimes, perhaps some deserve all the ghastly treatment they are receiving, and perhaps some even deserve to die. All deserve immediate release from the treatment that we, as God-fearing, law-abiding, democratic, freedom-loving people, have extended to them.

Whatever "rights" that we have to control Guantanamo have been erased by our actions there. Give it back to Cuba. We do not deserve to control it any longer.

David S. Swan Jr., Clearwater

Guantanamo prisoners uncover our shame
May 7, Nicholas Kristof column

A country gone awry

I am aghast at my country. I abhor what it does in Guantanamo Bay, in our prisons, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Human rights? Where are they at Guantanamo Bay? Human value? Where is it for bystanders and civilians in war-torn countries? Where is our compassion for humanity?

We denounce other countries and their policies, and yet our own reek of injustice and inequality. We accuse young men and incarcerate them for years and then — oops, I'm sorry, you were innocent. Where's the justice in that?

I love you, my country, but I am so angry with you and your stupid, power-hungry, self-serving, immoral acts.

Jean S. Johnson, St. Petersburg

Voice of the past | April 28, letter

Valuable reading

I am in the process of reading a book called Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell, by Janet Wallach. This book should have been read by all the powers-that-be in the government.

Gertrude Bell was adviser to the British government in World War I. T.E. Lawrence couldn't have accomplished what he did without her advice. I guarantee that you will be putting this book on your gift list to all of your friends.

Patti Persbacker, St. Petersburg

Crack down on illegals

How long do we have to watch businesses thumb their noses at employment laws? How long do we have to watch illegal immigrants and their supporters proudly demonstrate their lack of respect for America and its laws by waving foreign flags (mainly Mexican) and carrying signs in foreign languages (mainly Spanish) demanding outright amnesty?

The vast majority of Americans are tired of watching businesses and illegal immigrants break the law, get away with it, and then boast about it. Folks, take back your country before it's too late! Tell your congressional representative to sign the discharge petition for the SAVE Act. Tell your elected officials that you want the border secured and businesses held to the law. Tell them that illegal immigrants should never be given a path to citizenship, lest our problem increase tenfold as it has since the 1986 amnesty.

Rex Johnson, Tampa

Military contractors work to defend their own profits 05/11/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2008 12:46pm]

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