Successful intercept shows missile defense has a...

Successful intercept shows missile defense has a promising future

The Sun's editorial examining national missile defense listed as a reason for skepticism about the technology's success the fact that "no test has worked" ("Hitting a missile with a missile?" Feb. 9).


To the contrary, on Oct. 2, 1999 a target missile rose from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. About 20 minutes later, a prototype interceptor was launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific Ocean. Ten minutes later, the "kill vehicle" successfully collided with the dummy target warhead moving through space at about 15,000 miles per hour.

Critics said the test was rigged or fixed or worse. Nonsense. Intercepting the warhead was a remarkable feat of engineering and science brought about by the hard work of thousands of people.


Two subsequent test failures resulted not from any high-tech problems, but from a combination of minor hardware glitches and a bit of bad luck.

Even so, what we learned from the failures will help greatly in our development efforts. That's what testing is all about and we have many more tests to go before the technology meets our standards for effectiveness and reliability.

But to say "no test has worked" not only belies the facts, it is just plain wrong.

Lt. Col. Rick Lehner, Washington

The writer is public affairs officer for the national missile defense program.

Crackdown on prosecutors would stem rules violations

While The Sun has for years pointed out the justice system breakdowns which have made Baltimore one of the most crime-ridden cities, it seems to be slow to suggest disciplining those in the justice system who fail to work by the rules.

One of those failings was prominent in both The Sun's article "Prosecutors undermine cases by failure to heed rules of law" (Feb. 11) and that day's editorial, "Justice breakdown demands anger, action": Prosecutors' refusal to divulge certain evidence to defense attorneys, as required by Maryland law and the U.S. Constitution .


I don't know a lot about the legal profession, but in any other profession, practitioners who ignore the rules tend to have their licenses suspended or revoked.

How many discovery violations would there be if a few of the most flagrant violators lost their licenses, either temporarily or permanently?

Not many, I trust.

Chuck Frainie, Woodlawn

Editorial on judicial failings overlooked signs of progress

Strangely The Sun's editorial "Justice breakdown demands anger, action" (Feb. 11) contains only a passing reference to the good work done by Baltimore City's Circuit Court, which is reviewed in "State of the City Docket," recently issued by Administrative Judge Ellen Heller.


It may be viewed on the judiciary's Web site, at

Also of interest are recent statewide statistics that show that while the average number of criminal cases terminated per circuit judge is 618, the average for Baltimore City is 1,753.

The Early Disposition Court The Sun mentioned is a product of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, a body re-established by the judiciary in early 1999.

To the extent the process needs improvement, keeping in mind that speed and quantity are not the only indicia of quality or success, this should be done by the council.

With regard to juries, the report and recommendations from the Judiciary Council on Jury Use and Management are posted on our Web site.

Also available on the Web site are regular releases and reports to the public about the progress made by the judiciary on a number of initiatives, progress often not reported by the media.


Robert M. Bell, Annapolis

The writer is chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals.

Smoke detectors save lives, but so do city firefighters

Fire officials' calls for smoke detectors seem hypocritical ("Boy's death spurs fire officials to repeat smoke detector advice," Feb. 6).

The recent death of an elderly person at 1010 W. Baltimore St. and the tragic death of the child in the 2500 block of W. Fairmount Ave. both occurred in Truck Co. 13's old district.

This was one of seven companies that city officials chose to close a few months ago.


Yes, smoke detectors save lives, but so do firefighters.

Ray Lockett Sr., Baltimore

Bush may follow footsteps of another president's son

President Bush likes to compare himself to John Quincy Adams, the only other son of a president to hold the office.

I wonder if Mr. Bush realizes that Adams, like both of their fathers, was a one-term president who was soundly defeated in 1832 by a guy from Tennessee who had won more popular votes than Adams in 1828, but was denied the presidency in a hotly disputed post-election process?

Hey, I like this analogy.


Vincent DeMarco, Baltimore

With public schools in need, why underwrite private ones?

The notion that the state should again fork over funds for textbooks for private schools ignores the real needs that exist in public schools and our obligation as a community to meet them ("Funding for books enters next chapter," Feb. 11).

It doesn't matter to me if funds come from the tobacco settlement or anywhere else; that's irrelevant. The effect is that private schools receive money that should be dedicated to our public schools.

Perhaps the governor and his supporters can be persuaded to address textbook problems in public schools first.

For example, my son in high school has no Spanish textbook. My son in middle school cannot bring textbooks home, because the one set must remain in the classroom.


Let's focus on these needs and much more pressing ones, such as the stagnant state funding for special education in the face of exploding needs.

The list of needs is long. So why are we even thinking about money for private schools?

Chris Brennan, Catonsville