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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Missile shield system well worth the price

In response to the editorial "Let's pretend" (June 10), I think a couple of points need to be made.

First, missile defense is not a "boondoggle." The system is tantamount to an insurance policy.

The Government Accountability Office has estimated the value of the property damage alone to the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks at $83 billion. Imagine the costs if instead of jet-fueled airliners, the projectiles that struck that day had been ballistic missiles with warheads that contained nuclear, chemical or biological agents.

The effort to prevent such a catastrophe is well worth the investment in a missile defense system.

And indeed, this agency's efforts represent only about 2 percent of the Defense Department's annual budget.

The 9/11 attacks demonstrated there are those who are intent on attacking America and its way of life, regardless of the consequences to them.

Since 2001, the Missile Defense Agency has successfully conducted 27 intercepts in 35 attempts of the system it is developing. The complexity and rigor of the simulations increase with each test.

A European missile and radar site makes sense for the defense of not only America but also those who live between a possible launch point for an attack and this country.

Geography matters in detection and early destruction.

Chris Taylor

Washington

The writer is deputy director of public affairs for the Missile Defense Agency.

Backing of bombers isn't so reassuring

The report on Muslim Americans by the Pew Research Center is 108 pages long, and The Sun certainly could not report every finding contained in that report in its June 10 "By the Numbers" column.

Compared with similar studies conducted in Europe, the findings for the United States are more reassuring.

However, to me, the most important finding in that report, and one that was not mentioned in that column, is that 15 percent of the Muslims living in the United States who are 18 to 29 years old told researchers in phone interviews that suicide bombings are justified.

According to the report, there are about 1.5 million Muslims in the United States over age 18, with 30 percent of them being ages 18 to 29 - and 15 percent of the Muslims in that age group believe that suicide bombings are justified. That means there are more than 60,000 young Muslim Americans who believe suicide bombings are justified.

How many people did it take to fly the planes into the twin towers and the Pentagon?

Terrence H. Scout

Chestertown

The Senate skirted no-confidence vote

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales did not win a no-confidence vote - a vote that, in fact, he clearly would have lost. Rather, his party (and a chief enabler of the president, independent Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman) prevented such an embarrassing vote from coming to the floor ("Gonzales beats no-confidence vote in Senate," June 12).

It is fascinating that Senate Republicans, who used to rend their garments over the notion of Democrats threatening filibusters to prevent the Bush administration from pushing its extreme candidates for the federal bench, now apparently find it appropriate to refuse to cut off controversial debates.

The simple truth is that the Bush administration has fully politicized the Justice Department, and Mr. Gonzales has been at its helm in changing its mission from working for the nation to working for the Republican Party.

David Schwartz

Baltimore

Tests can provide valuable life lesson

I have to disagree with Callandra S. Cook's column "High-stakes tests in Maryland will drive some students to drop out" (Opinion * Commentary, June 8).

Many employers require people to take tests before they are hired.

If we do away with demanding that students meet certain standards, when will they learn that success does not come easy and quitting is not an option?

Persevering in the face of failure is how kids learn that they cannot give up, and this is where teachers and parents are needed the most.

James Mullen

White Hall

Exposing our kids to shocking dangers?

I was shocked and dismayed to read in the photo caption on the front page with The Sun's article "Skaters: Heel!" (June 7) that 6-year-old Elie Soueid fell recently and scraped his knees and elbows while using his Heelys.

How could we have let such a thing happen? And to a child, no less? What kind of society are we, anyway?

Why wasn't he better protected? Where were his parents, the police, the fire department, the government?

Next thing you know, he'll want to get on a bicycle, and we all know how dangerous those things are.

He also (I hope he doesn't read this and get any ideas) might even want to climb a tree. I don't even want to think about that possibility.

All I can say is that we must - as a fearful, frightened and childhood-robbing society - put a stop to all this foolish behavior.

Thank you to The Sun for bringing such an important issue to our attention.

David R. Binette

Owings Mills

Lying presidents don't get jail time

It strikes me as disingenuous for anyone to claim he or she can't see the equity in I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's being sent to jail for his lies while former President Bill Clinton, also caught in lies, goes scot-free and collects big speaking fees ("Libby goes to jail as Clinton gets rich," letters, June 11).

Perhaps this is unjust, but in the United States we don't typically send our presidents to jail. If presidential lies were all to earn jail time, we probably never would have had a leader who didn't get sent up the river after his White House term.

More important, Mr. Libby seems to have lied to avoid prosecution for himself and possibly other, more highly placed officials in the Bush administration for a possible breach of national security.

Mr. Clinton's lies about his marital infidelities, revolting as they may have been, hardly rise to that level.

If it is unjust that Mr. Libby got sent to prison, it is because his superiors have not been dealt a similar sentence.

But, again, we don't typically send our presidents to jail.

Thad Paulhamus

Baltimore

Libby's lies reached very different level

So the writer of the letter "Libby goes to jail as Clinton gets rich" (June 11) is "having a lot of trouble understanding" how differently former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former President Bill Clinton were treated for the crime of perjury.

Well, it always helps to look at the facts.

President Clinton lied about a consensual sexual relationship.

Mr. Libby lied in an investigation of who had disclosed the identity of a CIA operative involved in work related to weapons of mass destruction.

The two cases are not legally or morally equivalent.

G. Byron Stover

Baltimore

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