Your story on the WikiLeaks documents implies that the king of Saudi Arabia actually wants us to bomb Iran for the good of the world. But in diplomacy, deceptions are a normal part of the game. Many of the WikiLeaks revelations are certainly not true expressions of the feelings of the speakers but rather intents to deceive for one reason or another.
Could the Saudi king have said he wants us to bomb Iran because he desires to spring a trap as part of the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict involving Islam and the West? Or could the king have said this in order to further American arms sales to the Saudis? Or were other machinations involved?
Sensational WikiLeaks revelations are as likely to be diplomatic deceptions as they are to be expressions of true beliefs.
Arthur Volbert, St. Petersburg
Anger at Saudi request
I do not feel that the public needed to know everything that WikiLeaks released. It is one thing to shed light on dark deeds that the government might commit, but not everything that organization decided to make available worldwide was of that nature.
That said, of everything they made public I am angriest that Saudi Arabia asked us to go to war with Iran. They can fight their own battles; we are already in two wars in the region that we aren't particularly happy about. Moreover, their royal family turns a blind eye to fundamentalist terrorism to save face with the religious locals when the royals drink alcohol or behave promiscuously while visiting foreign nations.
The Bush family has been involved in oil, so of course they're happy to literally hold hands with Saudi royals. The rest of America has not forgotten that a majority of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis and the role the royal family had in encouraging them to become such.
Heidi Halsworth, Tampa
I have never seen such feckless, inept behavior as our government is showing now. This Wiki-Leaks fellow threatens to put lives in danger and the best we can do is plead with him that we are seriously concerned? He is now an international celebrity among people whose opinions he values and he is causing anxiety to people he despises. And we expect our pleadings will persuade him to give up the power we have allowed him to exercise?
The degree of harm such leaks cause is immaterial. The officials in charge of our national security must have all available tools necessary to meet their responsibilities, and this includes secure communications. For example, the course of World War II would have been quite different if someone had leaked that we had cracked the German and Japanese codes. We cannot have private individuals with limited information and a political agenda determining the course of our foreign policy.
William L. Bassett, Clearwater
Although legal due to the rights laid out in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, I personally feel that the New York Times' and St. Petersburg Times' (and the other media's) publication of information extracted from WikiLeaks was un-American.
The New York Times' weak rationale for the release of illegally obtained classified information does not come close to obviating its betrayal of our government, our diplomats, and our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines abroad. The New York Times says it edited out information that would do harm to these heroes and our national security. But the fact is, anyone working in foreign counterintelligence services abroad will be able to isolate both the source and reporters of the vast majority of information in these documents.
At the very least, publication has compromised our ability to collect information and, very likely, put our people abroad in harm's way.
William Smith, Tampa
Remember the soldiers | Nov. 26, letter
Few have sacrificed
The letter writer hit the nail on the head. I think the underlying problem is that the American public has largely been asked to sacrifice nothing during our two wars on global terrorism — no war tax, no required service, no rationing, nothing that would result in any altered behavior or consciousness on their part.
Some therefore reach the erroneous conclusion that our freedoms are free. I say "some," because (thankfully) over 70 percent of the traveling public, while not crazy about the inspection procedures, understands the necessity. A small, vocal minority does not, and clearly feels "entitled" to freedoms guaranteed to them by others.
Peter Price, Crystal River
Further proof that the TSA is reactive rather than proactive is the fact they have not addressed private aviation security. In effect, I can charter a plane, file a flight plan destination close to a desired target, board the aircraft without a TSA scan or body check, force the pilot to either fly into the target or "dismiss" the pilot and fly it myself into the target.
This holds true for airplane owners as well. Scary? You bet. Do we wait for this to happen before TSA gives it any thought?
Harvey Smith, Palm Harbor
We have no choice
I agree that the patdowns and scanners are somewhat humiliating; I had both done to me at Tampa. I am a middle-aged woman and I didn't even have a carry-on.
But stop and think. Europe and Israel have been doing this much, much longer. We have enemies and they proved what they are capable of on 9/11. They don't mind dying with us either. We have no choice. The nation changed forever on 9/11.
J. Compton, Clearwater
Small price to pay
If the TSA stops patdowns and body scans, I will not fly. I will not feel safe. I hope it doesn't take a plane exploding in mid air to make Americans realize that freedom isn't free. Patdowns and scans are a small price to pay.
Cheryl Bowman, Largo
I honestly don't understand why so many people object to having a body scan at the airport. I believe everyone, including children, should be scanned. I realize that it can be embarrassing to some people, but there have been cases where things were concealed in children's clothing.
Would you rather have someone board a plane with a weapon and jeopardize your life, or get a body scan?
Irene Zimmerman, New Port Richey
Firth puts a royal face on stuttering | Nov. 27
Beyond the stereotypes
I hope actor Colin Firth and his film The King's Speech receives a lot of attention. Unfortunately, too many past movies have mocked stuttering with stereotypically negative stuttering characters.
More attention needs to be given to stuttering and speech problems in general. The website of the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation has a downloadable brochure entitled "Special Education Law and Children Who Stutter" about how every child in the United States has the right to free speech therapy from preschool through high school.
George Schonberger, Sarasota
A beneficial activity
One day recently when I rode my skateboard to downtown Tampa, a police officer came up and said skateboarding in the downtown business district is illegal. I got off my skateboard.
That night I did research into the topic and found that it is illegal to ride a skateboard anywhere in the downtown area. I recently moved to Tampa from a small county in Florida to go to school for engineering. I used to live in Citrus County, where gang-related violence or drug trafficking were bigger problems than skateboarding. But I feel skateboarding in downtown Tampa is perceived to be just as bad.
Skateboarding has now become a well-known sport, and a small number of professionals make a living at it. There are millions of avid skateboarders who celebrate Go Skateboarding Day all around the world on June 21, and they are passionate about changing the views of skateboarding.
I can't help but wonder why there's a law against an activity that is beneficial to youth and a positive outlet. Occasionally I'm wrongfully accused of doing something illegal while out having a practice session, and it seems that those judgments are based solely on negative social stereotypes. I have not illegally damaged public property or broken the law; I was just skateboarding.
There need to be more opportunities for skateboarders to prove those stereotypes wrong, and this discrimination has to end. I believe there should be more publicly sanctioned areas for people to safely skate or else these issues will only grow.
Michael Bato, Tampa
True causes of conflict
If we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan because they were a threat to our national security, why are we not now invading Mexico, which is an out-of-control nation in chaos on our southern border and a far greater threat to our national security than either Iraq or Afghanistan?
The crime in Mexico is spilling over into the United States and our national government is doing nothing about it. Worse, when the states on the border attempt to do something about it they are penalized by the inept and impotent federal government.
Could it be that we go to war against countries not because they are a threat to our security but because they are a threat to the security of the international corporations whose enforcement arm we have become?
Dick Driscoll, Clearwater
Times foreign coverage
Keep up the great work
What a joy it is to read the high-level foreign correspondent reporting in the Times, most recently from the Middle East.
Meg Laughlin and Susan Taylor Martin recently nailed stories out of Palestine, Afghanistan and Israel. The out-of-the-box narrative angles, thoughtful photography and accompanying graphics enhance our knowledge about fascinating worldwide events and cultures.
The Times brings the world right to our door-steps. Keep up the great work.
Robert Davis, Valrico