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Letters to the Editor

Polk case was fully investigated

Right by Miles | Aug. 31, story

Polk case was fully investigated The article ignores the tragic truth that has been laid out in hundreds of pages of investigation and sworn depositions beginning six years ago. The Polk County Sheriff's Office said six years ago, and still maintains, that Sgt. Scott Lawson's conduct was outrageous. He violated our policies, acted outside the scope of his duties, and he engaged in criminal conduct. He was fired, arrested, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

Any fair and unbiased reading of the record, which has clearly not been done by the reporter, would have shown that the case has been properly and fully investigated. Any allegation that we would participate in a coverup is absolutely absurd. The Times article is littered with bias, innuendo, half-truths and unfounded bizarre allegations of conspiracy.

Scott H. Wilder, director of communications, Polk County Sheriff's Office

'Libel tourism' throttles writers | Sept. 1, commentary

Don't limit Americans' information on terrorism

One would think that with all the shouting about our war against terrorism emanating from Washington that a U.S. writer who names in his book a foreign terrorist supporter would already have the protection of our government. That the writer can be charged with libel in a U.K. court and with the further burden of proving his innocence is absurd. Not only is the writer stifled, but the paucity of books exposing terrorist supporters also denies information to the American reader.

What we don't need is intimidation of our writers adding to the dumbing-down of our international understanding. A lack of support for the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008, possibly influenced by Saudi lobbyists, may prevent this act from seeing the light of day. Bipartisan support is necessary.

Roger K. Freeman, New Port Richey

Life once in shambles, he builds a new one Sept. 1, story

Government suppression

Thanks for this story about Mazen Al-Najjar, a Palestinian and a former University of South Florida instructor who was detained for 1,307 days on secret evidence.

I interviewed him for a peace-and-justice newsletter while he was incarcerated at Manatee County Jail. We discussed the use of secret evidence, and I asked him why he thought this had happened to him. He replied that this was all about trying to silence those who were speaking out about the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

In his opinion, it was really his brother-in-law, Sami Al-Arian, whom they were trying to silence. He said the FBI had been unsuccessful in obtaining documentation about Al-Arian's possible connections to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He saw his incarceration as an attempt by the government to force him to incriminate Al-Arian.

Dwight Lawton, St. Petersburg

Life once in shambles, he builds a new one Sept. 1, story

Not worthy of attention

On the front page of your Labor Day issue you published an article sympathizing with Mazen Al-Najjar for being deported because he was unwilling to help U.S. investigators find more evidence about aiding and abetting Palestinian terrorists by his brother-in-law Sami Al-Arian.

It is mind-boggling that the St. Petersburg Times finds it so important to publicize a deported Palestinian's life at a time when the United States is preparing for a presidential election and New Orleans was again facing a natural disaster.

Francis N. Dukes-Dobos, Clearwater

Life once in shambles, he builds a new one Sept. 1, story

Innocent lives are harmed

Thank you for Meg Laughlin's recent article about Mazen Al-Najjar, who was held for almost four years on secret evidence and no charges before being deported. We frequently read about arrests and suspicions related to our government's "war on terror," but only rarely do we read about the effect on the lives of the accused, and their families.

A judge saw that Mazen was innocent and so he was released. But even though he was innocent, he was deported and his life was changed forever. How many other innocent lives have been ruined this way? Please continue publishing their stories.

Melva Underbakke, Temple Terrace

Misplaced sympathy

Why does the St. Petersburg Times continue to elicit sympathy for two supporters of terrorism such as Mazen Al-Najjar and Sami Al-Arian?

Al-Arian was an effective fundraiser for the Holy Land Foundation and other terrorists groups. Al-Arian and his brother-in-law called for jihad against our United States. They deserve our contempt, not our sympathy.

Norman N. Gross, Palm Harbor

Electronic strip search goes too far | Sept. 2, editorial

How do we respond?

Please tell us what we as citizens can do to prevent this? Or are we just doomed to worry and wonder about our health and our privacy?

Have long-term studies been done to determine effectiveness or impact on health of these machines? I for one do not believe it when I am told there is no ill-effect.

On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I saw no scanners. There was just a personal conversation with each passenger by a trained screener and baggage screening at the gate — user-friendly. Why can't we try that first?

Tina Spangler, St. Petersburg

Electronic strip search goes too far | Sept. 2, editorial

Security trade-offs

Anyone who has flown regularly in the last seven years knows that individuals are selected at random for additional screening. They also know those individuals have choices about how that screening is accomplished. If you don't like a particular screening device, or location, you can request a pat down and an officer of the same gender will accommodate your request, in private accompanied by another officer if you wish.

All security is invasive and inconvenient: You have to take off your shoes, take your laptop and your printer and your toothpaste out of your bag, someone is peering into your bags by X-ray or rummaging around in there. Keep in mind the inconvenience and invasiveness of finding yourself aboard a plane being flown into a building. Those are the stakes.

There is always a balance between security and comfort. In order to get more of one you must sacrifice the other. How far you go to assure either one or the other is up to you.

John Gillmore, Tampa

Electronic strip search goes too far | Sept. 2, editorial

The PC problem

You're right about this machine being intrusive and that it should be "used exclusively for travelers who raise objective and reasonable suspicion."

However, you and other liberal media made that an impossibility when years ago you ranted and raved against "racial profiling" and wanted everything and everyone to be "politically correct."

There's no chance this or any other surveillance could be anything but random. If the Transportation Security Administration was not restricted by these insane "PC" and racial profiling restrictions we wouldn't have these long lines at security.

The only ones being examined would be the obvious ones, and we all know who that would be. It wouldn't be 80-year-old white guys/gals, would it?

Tom Bennis, Sun City Center

Polk case was fully investigated 09/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 5, 2008 3:46pm]

    

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