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Obama acts pragmatically to defend our security

Two steps back | May 19, editorial

Obama is defending our security

I disagree with your criticism of President Barack Obama's decisions to try alleged terrorists before military tribunals and to not release photos of detainee abuse by our military. He broke campaign promises by his actions and doubtless went against his liberal views and your similar bent.

Obama is demonstrating both his quick learning and his clear independence of thought and pragmatism.

The context of the wars and national security is a nuanced one, as the president understands, and his reading of what serves U.S. security deserves high credibility despite the case you offer. In these two controversial areas, Obama appears to have assessed the dangers and controversy of unintended consequences.

In my opinion the alleged terrorists are not merely objects of law enforcement, have no place in this country and can be handled fairly without the panoply of constitutional protections given ordinary criminals. As to the photos, I can see both sides of the case, but I prefer no further inflaming of public opinion anywhere our troops operate in combat.

President Obama needs to direct the military to punish the abusers of prisoners as well as close Guantanamo Bay. While you oppose his decisions, I am sure he knows more than your editorial board does about the dangers, has listened to advice of informed government/military experts and made a reasoned decision. He is learning to make hard decisions and live with the results, bad and good.

James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg

Inconsistent stance

The Times editorial indignation over the president's partial reversal of positions on adjudicating detainee cases, and on publishing photographs purporting to show the abuse of some in custody is egregiously inconsistent.

You are arguing that enemy combatants deserve the full rights and privileges of the U.S. judiciary. At the same time, you are suggesting that U.S. military personnel alleged to have abused prisoners deserve no better than a trial in the court of public opinion, via the Internet.

John Patrick Byrne, Largo

Resuming draft is not good for the Army May 18, letter

Draftees served honorably and professionally

I served in Vietnam with several draftees and I can state without exception that each served honorably, bravely and professionally. No one in my Marine rifle platoon or rifle company represents anything akin to those the letter writer describes. Several became squad leaders.

My younger brother served as an Army draftee honorably, professionally and bravely with an infantry platoon with the 1st Division (Big Red One) and his experience does not reflect the letter writer's description. He rose to be a platoon sergeant.

The portrayal of Vietnam era draftees as "the dregs of society," "drug dealers, pimps, gang-bangers and an outlaw biker," only serves to promote the false folk lore perpetuated by the antiwar movement. Regardless of one's view of that conflict, to maliciously disgrace the vast majority of those who served, especially those who complied with the draft, shamefully reflects on those who perpetuate this lie.

The men and women serving today are more educated, better trained, motivated and capable than at any time in our history — as they should be. The draft is not necessary militarily, sociologically, or politically. However, that does not diminish the quality of service from those drafted in the past.

M.J. Teixeira, Tampa

Resuming draft is not good for the Army May 18, letter

Draft aroused the public

The letter writer asserts that the draft during the Vietnam War brought about numerous problems: drug abusers, soldiers with mental and physical disabilities and violent tendencies. A common denominator was that they were forced to serve.

The draft also brought about outraged family members and a public outcry against an unjust war that helped to end it.

Could the American public's complacency regarding Iraq stem from the fact that we now sanctify anyone who serves because they chose to? Perhaps a draft now would hit close enough to home to rally the masses to finally speak up regarding the mess that we refer to as "the war in Iraq."

Suzanne Rehermann, Hudson

Resuming draft is not good for the Army May 18, letter

Standards are lower

The writer of this letter needs to take into account the Department of Defense instruction that allowed the services to lower standards to fill quotas.

As to the thinking that volunteers are happy troops, not so. Once they get a taste of the real military, a lot of them have regrets that they volunteered. The promises of the recruiters turn out to be false. Also: If the volunteers are happy, why are the suicide rates increasing to their highest levels?

Andy Anderson, U.S. Air Force, retired with 35 years of service, St. Petersburg

Salary talks held off screen | May 19, editorial

Unseemly hiding

The Pinellas County Commission has become quite proficient at manipulating the "spirit of the law" versus the "letter of the law" angle when dealing with the public's business.

To intentionally mislead the viewing public by declaring a public meeting to be in recess, while continuing the meeting in other quarters in hopes of avoiding the public scrutiny, is reprehensible — and a disturbing practice that has become far too common in Pinellas politics. Although this act may not have been illegal, it was a deliberate attempt on the part of public officials to hide from the public eye.

How many times must we taxpayers get burned before we recognize the need for new leadership?

Norm Roche, Clearwater

Ned the underweight elephant dies at Tennessee sanctuary | May 19

Animals deserve better

I only wish that our community will remember the pictures of this starving elephant when the circus comes to town. Go to the Cirque du Soleil where performers have a choice about their paid profession and are not abused and enslaved for profit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture needs to stop issuing licenses to those who cannot afford to take care of animals that then end up dying. The USDA doesn't have enough time or manpower to monitor the situation and the animals end up suffering.

Ned would have been happy with his family in any jungle dealing with natural elements. Nature is kinder than man.

Louise Kahle, St. Petersburg

Obama acts pragmatically to defend our security 05/20/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 5:53pm]
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