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The Baltimore Sun

Libby helped create far greater tragedy

Many former Bush administration colleagues have expressed sympathy for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby following his conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice ("Ex-aide to Cheney guilty of perjury," March 7).

They note that he was convicted of lying about a crime that apparently never occurred (leaking the name of a covert agent in a way that violates the law), for which no one else will be prosecuted and which may have been done at the direction of his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney.

However, Mr. Libby willingly helped conduct a smear campaign to discredit an opponent of the administration and the Iraq war, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, who asserted -- correctly, as we all now know -- that crucial evidence relied upon to justify the Iraq war was false.

Mr. Libby and his boss were among the most zealous of advocates for that war and spread what proved to be false and questionable intelligence.

The consequences of these falsehoods, along with many others, include the deaths of more than 3,000 American troops; more than 100,000 Americans wounded, with many now facing severe lifelong disabilities; the deaths of thousands of Iraqis; and the wounding of thousands more, who now live amid an unending spiral of violence.

More profoundly, the prospect of a peaceful and stable Middle East has been ripped asunder by the unleashing of sectarian rivalries, just as many opponents of war predicted.

Former U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton, a Baltimore native, has said that Mr. Libby's conviction shows how flawed our judicial system is.

No, this trial and conviction demonstrate how flawed this country's leadership has been -- how it put ideology, intimidation, secrecy and its "master of the universe" mentality before reason and sound policy.

This trial demonstrates that at least one branch of government has awakened from its slumber to acknowledge the excesses of the last six years.

I hope Congress will now do the same.

Mr. Libby's personal "tragedy" pales compared to the one he helped unleash.

Eric F. Waller


Slots a dishonest source of revenue

Once again, slots are being pushed, this time as the solution to our long-term fiscal problems ("Miller awaits O'Malley slots clue," March 7).

But the math does not work. Bringing slots back will have indirect social costs that far outweigh the take to the state.

Slots are basically a dishonest way to increase revenue and avoid the unpleasantness of justifying direct tax increases.

As to the idea of justifying slots as a way to boost our ailing horse racing industry, I would note that the public is not supporting horse racing.

Awarding a monopoly franchise for slots to a dying private industry in the name of heritage, jobs or open space is not an efficient use of public resources. It is just bad public policy and smacks of cronyism and special-interest pandering.

The state should not be subsidizing an industry the public isn't supporting.

If we must have slots, they should be limited and under full state control.

At least then the state would receive the bulk of the benefits to offset the negatives.

Mel Barnhart


Ground rent isn't so hard to grasp

I am embarrassed and insulted that ground rents may be eliminated in Maryland ("Ground rent bills assailed," March 5).

Gov. Martin O'Malley is, in effect, telling me and all of his constituents that we are too stupid to understand the terms of our mortgages.

But not only are homebuyers told by their agents that a ground rent applies to their mortgage, but this fact is clearly stated in the mortgage papers.

If someone can't understand the terms of a mortgage, maybe he or she shouldn't be buying a house.

Stephanie Myers


Public art must be palatable to public

So new Mayor Sheila Dixon wants to fund public art ("City seeking to craft artful image," March 3)?

As a musician, filmmaker, graphic artist and general ne'er-do-well, I think that's a great idea to beautify the city. To that end, the first order of business should be to use the funds to tear down the Thing in Front of Penn Station (the "Male/Female" sculpture).

Maybe sell it for scrap to fund other art projects. I like that idea. Or sell the land under the Thing to Baltimore's Catholic Archdiocese: It seems to be tearing down everything these days anyway.

My point is that it's not just the art itself but the placement of it.

We all love the Mona Lisa. But putting it in a men's room would somehow not be quite right -- both for the art and for the purposes at hand.

I'm all for public art. But because it occupies public spaces, citizens who share those locations have a right to expect that funds spent on public art be used to create something they will like and appreciate.

So if the mayor plans to put in more creations like the one at Penn Station, this is a wasted exercise.

Harry DeBusk


Build ICC to ease traffic, pollution

For many years, I drove from Pasadena to Rockville to go to work.

I really had only two choices to get to work: Either take Interstate 95 to Interstate 495 to Interstate 270 or travel the back roads. Both of these routes are now overburdened.

As for reducing auto emissions, well, I'm not a scientist, but it seems to me that having thousands of cars stuck in Beltway traffic going nowhere fast will pretty much destroy our environment.

I now live in Essex and work in Towson, but I still support building the Intercounty Connector ("ICC puts brakes on transit projects," letters, March 4).

This road has been on the drawing board for years.

Let's build it and move on already.

Sam Wright


Could ban be end of 'the Free State'?

The writer of the letter "Ban offers new twist on old city slogan" (March 5) suggests that in light of the city's new smoking ban, Baltimore should adopt the slogan "The City That Breathes" as an homage to the none-too-accurate Schmoke-era slogan "The City That Reads."

May I suggest that if the General Assembly goes ahead with a statewide smoking ban, Maryland should drop its venerable tag "the Free State" and substitute a new, all-too-accurate motto: "the Police State."

Jon Swift


Ignore Ann Coulter until she goes away

I am baffled that anyone is surprised about Ann Coulter's latest incredibly offensive comments.

Whether she is attacking 9/11 widows or using anti-gay slurs, Ms. Coulter has made a career out of shocking remarks.

And the media are playing right into her hands -- as whenever she makes another outrageous comment, she gets all the free media coverage in the world, and this lets her promote her disturbing views.

Let's ignore her, and hope that she goes away.

Steven M. Clayton

Ocean, N.J.

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