President Obama's Guantanamo obsession | Jan. 11
Face the real causes of extremism
In his article, Charles Krauthammer states accurately that Osama bin Laden's 1998 fatwa was based on our having troops on the Arabian peninsula and the Iraq embargo which was causing severe hardship to the Iraqi people.
He did not mention bin Laden's third reason stated in the fatwa: the American lack of evenhandedness in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian question. How did such a reputable and fastidious journalist miss that?
He goes on to say that "today, there are virtually no U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia" and "the sanctions regime against Iraq was abolished years ago." Thus, in arguing in his partial equilibrium model that radical Islamic terrorism has gone up, not down, he seemingly implies that our foreign policy in the Mideast has nothing to do with it. He argues the same line with regard to the closing of Guantanamo.
Would anyone be willing to bet his or her first-born child on the notion that we are hated by these people more for "who we are" rather than "what we do"? I seriously doubt Krauthammer would take that bet.
If we continue to do make-believe (read as propaganda) and not deal with the real causes for the extremism, we are going to get a boatload more of it. The aggregate costs manifested in many forms will be huge. It is then, after much pain, that the American people will shock the political establishment into doing what is right for our country.
John Demas, Odessa
Our fear can turn into their victory
A counterterrorism expert recently stated that attempts, by suicide bombers, such as the "shoe-bomber" and the "underwear-bomber," hastily trained and sent off to do their dastardly deeds, do not need to be successful in their attempt to kill Americans in order for al-Qaida to accomplish its mission of destroying Americans' abilities to function as we were once able to do.
All one need do is look at recent polls that show a majority of likely voters think Guantanamo should be kept open. Why? Simple. Almost half of our fellow countrymen/women are living on the edge of hysteria, seeing a terrorist behind every rock, thanks mainly to the distorted ravings of right and far-right commentators/pundits. Seems it doesn't take much for Osama bin Laden to scare the bejesus out of us any more. He's winning because we're scared and confused and not paying attention to all the good and beneficial things our government is doing to keep us safe.
If your source of news and commentary is the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Fox, et al., I can certainly understand your not wanting to live a normal life anymore. I feel badly for you, but I certainly understand your immense paranoia.
Closing Guantanamo may not cause al-Qaida to shut down its recruiting efforts, but it will no longer be a major tool in their drive to kill the infidels. And it just might rein in our drive to becoming the mother of all "Third World" countries.
David M. Childress Sr., Palm Harbor
Nigerian is arraigned in failed jet bombing Jan. 9, story
A misguided policy
The guy's lawyer pleads him "not guilty" — I don't know whether we should laugh or cry! The man tries to blow a plane out of the sky, the president of the United States goes on television — twice — to tell us that we have to remake our entire intelligence system, and redesign airport security around the world, because of the near catastrophe this man caused. And we cloak him, needlessly, with the presumption of innocence, and extend to him the full panoply of judicial protections that are afforded to American citizens.
No principle of American law requires this bizarre result; only American citizens and — because of some questionable Supreme Court precedents — foreigners resident in the United States are entitled to these constitutional protections.
This guy should have been interrogated by intelligence and military authorities for weeks and then detained as an enemy combatant or tried in a military tribunal. An invaluable intelligence opportunity has been squandered as he now follows his lawyer's direction to keep silent.
How did we get to this unconscionable position? The one policy the Obama administration has consistently followed in the war against our enemies is: Anything the Bush administration did, they won't do. By following that policy they believe they will convince our enemies of our high moral stature and the virtue of our principles, and thus persuade them of the error of their ways.
Of course, it is because of those very principles that our enemies hate us, and seek to destroy our society. And at this moment our enemies are laughing at the self-paralysis the Obama administration's policy of "non-Bush" is imposing on our ability to defend ourselves. And so I guess I know the answer to my question: As they laugh, we have to cry.
Barry Augenbraun, St. Petersburg
Where's Obama's outrage? | Jan. 10, letter
Where's the good sense?
The letter writer is upset because President Barack Obama is not as gung-ho as President George W. Bush was, resulting in a lack of unity in the United States.
First, let's not forget that the 9/11 attacks happened on Bush's watch because he and his administration ignored the dangers posed by al-Qaida, while this recent error on Obama's watch got no one killed. Bush needed to strike a blow on our enemy, al-Qaida, but chose to strike out at Iraq, diverting resources from Afghanistan, and allowing Osama bin Laden to escape. Some gung-ho!
I hope no one else confuses Bush's anger and determination with presidential good sense and purpose. Just count the young Americans dead to see how Bush failed us. I worked hard to elect President Obama, but will not again. Obama's war against all of Afghanistan seeking out the Taliban and a handful of al-Qaida will not bring us safety, any more than Bush's war crimes have. Each Friday morning I carry a sign at the corner of Ridge Road and U.S. 19: "Obama and Bush: Blood brothers."
I'm ready for some common sense, fortitude and facing up to our senseless violence as well as theirs by a president smart enough to know better. Semper fi.
Daniel Callaghan, New Port Richey
Sen. Harry Reid's remarks
Let's move on
Sen. Harry Reid is from the same era as I am, when racial remarks were acceptable in matter-of-fact conversation. I was never in favor of segregation, having arrived in the United States early in my years, but I can understand how these comments can be spoken unwittingly by someone making the adjustment from one society to another. Everyone should understand that fact. So let's accept Sen. Reid's apology and move on to things that are overdue for our immediate attention.
Every time I turn the television on there is an in- depth discussion regarding the comments. Even the president has been brought into the discussions. He is a busy man but seems to be working with lawmakers who want to find a way to stay away from problems at hand and dwell on something they can do nothing about.
Let's be real. Enough already!
Hartley Steeves, Tampa
Sen. Harry Reid
A false issue
I imagine another description on another day: "He's a red-faced Arkansan with no Oxford accent (unless he wants one)."
This whole false "issue" insults black people. What? People cannot describe one another now? Sen. Reid should have said, "He's a Chicago politician from Hawaii who is more educated than the rest of us?" That would be politically correct, I assume.
Bruce H. Alexander, St. Petersburg
Harry Reid and Trent Lott
Sen. Harry Reid was commenting on Obama's marketability to the masses in an election. Trent Lott was expressing an opinion by saying that all would have been better had a segregationist won in 1948. How can the two be compared?
Ginger Watters, Tampa