Nation needs a security overhaul | Dec. 30, letter
Let's forget political correctness
The writer has some very good suggestions to improve airline security and almost gets it right. I was surprised to hear he objects to full body scanners because they "violate our rights of privacy." Does he want privacy or security? You cannot have both.
First and foremost we must ban political correctness. If you are offended, get over it.
A well executed profiling system will replace the billions of dollars of "gadgets" (and the connected companies that manufacture them). Profiling is easy: Pick the person most likely to be a threat and deal with him/her. Do not worry about hurting people's feelings or offending anyone. Do you want to be secure or correct?
Lastly, fix the monster known as Homeland Security. Put professional law enforcement personnel in charge and stop trying to solve every threat or problem with money.
Do all of these things and we stand a far better chance of being safe and secure than we do now. Present airline security is a joke.
Peter Graulich, retired police detective, Inverness
Terrorism dots still not connected Jan. 5, commentary
We need to get serious about data analysis
The problem is clear from the official response: We're going to get more high-tech gadgets to collect more information to be collected and filed away.
The creation of Homeland Security, like the creation of the CIA itself, did not address the basic problem: We do not put sufficient resources into analyzing the information that we do collect, and we waste vast amounts of resources — and erode our constitutional rights — collecting useless information the government never looks at anyway (unless something bad happens, in which case we look at it afterward). This is what hit us in 9/11, and this is the same problem that hit us on Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor.
Until the intelligence agencies get serious about data analysis, we will continue to be blindsided by low-tech terrorists armed with ordinary hardware and household chemicals.
Gregory McColm, Temple Terrace
High-tech air security no sure bet and Bus stops to get review | Dec. 31
The human element
What do these two articles have in common? We have become so obsessed with technology that we ignore the human element in fine-tuning our activities.
When traveling to Florence, Italy, I was amazed at the difference between European and U.S. security procedures. They are far more concerned with human behavior than technology to uncover security threats. It was the work of humans in Britain that uncovered the possible threat of liquids and gels, not technology. It was the lack of diligent human analysis and communication that enabled the Christmas Day bombing attempt, not technology.
Similarly, how many more schoolchildren will be sacrificed on the altar of technology before supervisors send humans to scout proposed school bus routes for potential hazards? Technology is not capable of perceiving such threats, only humans have that ability.
Wars are won by "boots on the ground," not by technology. The "war on terror" and the school bus "wars" will be won by humans, not technology.
Until we heed the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat them!
Mike MacDonald, Clearwater
Our lost unity
I do not get it. Prior to 9/11 there was information told to the Bush administration of the possibility of a strike on the United States. Three of the perpetrators were on the watch list. Someone goofed. The World Trade Center was taken down with almost 3,000 lives lost. The entire country rallied around the president without regard to political party.
The recent blunder on the airliner from Amsterdam was without the loss of life. Within hours the outcry from the opposition party was in full swing. Condemnation rallied on right-wing radio, TV and the Internet. My question is, what happened to the unity of purpose?
Jack Levine, Palm Harbor
Task: Win minds, hearts of Afghans | Jan. 2
Living our values
This was a great article. Ed Campbell and others like him who are helping us restore our image abroad deserve our thanks.
The article should have brought attention to why Campbell's action was even necessary. Why was a water bottle thrown from a military vehicle passing through his village? Do we throw water bottles through people's windows in America or on their front yard? What/who was the real source of the problem?
I suggest all of our military leaders and troops work on living the values of respect, trust, dignity and responsibility. Our hosts in Afghanistan will more quickly side with us when they witness our positive values in action. We can't win this type of war when we are perceived as "arrogant, ugly Americans." Why didn't the military send out those responsible to fix the window and apologize? Seems like there would be a lesson in doing that.
Besides, how many six-figure salaried troubleshooters can we afford to hire and dispatch to foreign soils to patch up the errors of our military or contractors?
Again, thanks to Ed Campbell for the winning effort.
Richard Oliver Mayer, Palm Harbor
End to council prayers is urged Dec. 31, story
We need more of God
I am not a religious zealot, but I cannot let this article pass without comment.
The effort to remove God, "so help us God," or any mention of God from our government, local or national, has got to stop.
Look around! We need more of God, not less. We need more prayer not less prayer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation says that the council should not "worship on the taxpayers' dime." Then let the taxpayers decide, not some unwanted, insignificant non-God fearing group. Maybe we can call this time a "break" from work, as our labor laws guarantee every employee, and have the freedom to do as they please on "break".
The constant "fear" in which we operate today in regard to "offending" someone or groups of people is ridiculous.
What about offending the majority of Americans and people around the world who believe in prayer, God and what God stands for? More people need to speak up before we lose the right to have God's name in mission statements, on public statues or monuments or spoken in our everyday lives.
Terry E. Leapaldt, Tampa
End to council prayers is urged Dec. 31, story
When an official public session is opened with a prayer, the prayer could arguably fly in the face of the First Amendment's establishment clause. Mandating how the prayer should be "couched" by forbidding certain words (like Jesus) arguably flies in the face of that same amendment's freedom of expression provision.
There are many people (I count myself as one of them) who are not a bit troubled by hearing another's particular faith being referred to in such a scenario. I suspect that those who are troubled are a very small minority. Being a minority, however, doesn't mean they should have no say in the matter.
If people cannot accept a compromise on this, one solution is to dispense with any prayer, or set aside a period of silence for those in attendance to pray, if they wish to do so, in the manner in which they are comfortable. This does not remove God, Allah, Jesus, et al., from the forum. It does permit their inclusion but on an individual rather than corporate basis. This is actually a very conservative position to take: If one dislikes government intrusion, then why should a government-dictated prayer be permitted?
James W. Moyers, Sun City Center