LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Lack of strategy sheer negligence

Mistakes happen, even errors of omission. When they do, and they're acknowledged and corrected, they can be valuable learning experiences.

But when serious fundamental failures, such as the failure to plan or implement security strategies, are repeated by a commander in chief without acknowledgment or correction of the errors, that is more than just a mistake. It is a tragedy.

Last week, after seven years of unrelenting ineptness by the Bush administration, the public learned that the president has no integrated plan to fight al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden in Pakistan ("Pakistan border a terrorist haven," April 18).

This is the enemy that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and this is the place where it is based and may be planning its next assault.

Yet U.S. government auditors and senior officials at the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan confirmed that the U.S. has no comprehensive plan or coordinated strategy to combat this nest of vipers.

In light of the auditors' report, embassy officials' statements, intelligence information and the administration's avowed goals, how can the failure to provide a comprehensive counterterrorism plan for Pakistan (one that includes economic, political, diplomatic, reconstruction, interagency and military components) be anything other than sheer negligence?

Roger C. Kostmayer, Baltimore

Carter is consorting with our enemies

Former President Jimmy Carter's decision to meet with leaders of the terrorist organization Hamas is deplorable and uncalled for ("Carter rebuked on Hamas," April 22).

Members of our State Department tried to persuade Mr. Carter not to meet with the enemy or the terrorist organization Hamas, but he rejected their sound advice.

For a former president to meet and consort with leaders of a terrorist organization is nothing but a disgrace. I call on Congress to officially admonish and chastise Mr. Carter for this unwise decision.

We are involved in a war against terror, and Mr. Carter is consorting with the enemy.

Al Eisner, Wheaton

Carter seeks break from failed policies

The tone of Michael B. Kraft's column "Carter lifts terrorists, undercuts peace" (Commentary, April 17) was negative, bigoted and disconcerting.

The dismissal of former President Jimmy Carter's efforts to break the gridlock in the peace talks by engaging Hamas leaders simply reflects more of the same Bush administration policy.

The majority of Israelis support talks with Hamas, and a recent editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz praised Mr. Carter's efforts.

Simplistic, one-sided slogans are no substitute for constructive ideas and sincere efforts to resolve the conflict.

Nora Burgan, Falls Church, Va.

Shiite crossfire a no-win quagmire

The Sun published an ominous and puzzling report from Los Angeles Times reporter Tina Susman on Muqtada al-Sadr, ("Cleric warns of Iraq uprising," April 20), which notes that "hard-line Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened 'open war' as Iraqi and U.S. forces battled his Mahdi Army in two key strongholds."

Hmm, I thought open war had been ongoing for five years.

The report suggested that Iran doesn't like U.S. air strikes in support of the Shiite-led Iraqi government's military offensives against Mr. al-Sadr.

As best I can tell from this report, the Shiite-led Iraqi government is fighting the Shiite army of Mr. al-Sadr, and the Iranians, who are also mostly Shiites, are mad at the U.S. for helping the Shiite-led Iraqi government fight Mr. al-Sadr.

If you're thinking that's a lot of Shiites, well, so am I.

What is going on over there, and why is the U.S. caught in a three-way Shiite crossfire?

Weren't the Shiites the ones we rescued from Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-based regime?

I used to think it strange that nobody has ever defined "victory" in Iraq.

Now I see why: There's no such thing.

The Democrats in Congress must bring the U.S. Army home.

Kathy Lane, Columbia

Let primary process run its full course

I'm tired of hearing political pundits declare that Sen. Hillary Clinton should cede the race ("Clinton keeps the race alive," April 23).

Let's see what the two Democratic candidates are made of in this race for the highest office in the land.

Why are the pundits so intent on stopping the Democratic primary process?

We have had seven years of political disaster in this country. I don't think we need to be in such a hurry to resolve the nomination process.

There are too many Americans hurting, and they obviously want and need to feel a part of the political process.

Mary P. Remington, Cockeysville

A Clinton victory could be big defeat

There is a gigantic risk posed if Sen. Hillary Clinton persists with her campaign and somehow manipulates a "win" at the Democratic National Convention ("Clinton keeps the race alive," April 23).

Millions of new voters, African-American voters and young voters will be alienated from the democratic process, perhaps abandoning participation altogether.

In the long run, Mrs. Clinton's "win" could be a monumental loss to this country.

I hope the Democratic Party's "superdelegates" are cognizant of the long-term damage that could be done both to the party and this country if they ignore the popular vote.

I hope that they are wise enough to honor the democratic process.

Sarah Bur, Baltimore

Green power is the better answer

Nuclear power is not the energy answer, and it will not help America achieve energy independence ("Don't dismiss nuclear risks," Commentary, April 18).

The real answer to the energy crisis, especially in Maryland, is alternative energy.

Alternative sources of energy can help solve both the energy crisis and the climate crisis, while also producing jobs to sustain our neighbors.

Wind power, solar power and geothermal energy are examples of alternative energy.

The more people use green power, the cheaper and safer energy will become for everyone.

Apparently, meeting the state's goal of getting 20 percent of Maryland's electricity from renewable sources by 2022 is a daunting task.

But is building a nuclear power plant that could endanger millions in Maryland an acceptable alternative?

Hattie Quick, Baltimore

CDC underestimates hospital infections

The Government Accountability Office report cited in the article "Report calls for better hospital standards" (April 17) found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's data on hospital infections are unreliable.

I testified at the congressional hearing about this report and provided the evidence in support of that finding.

The CDC claims that 1.7 million people contract infections in hospitals each year. The real number is probably several times that number.

In 2007, the largest survey of hospitals in the U.S., conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that 2.4 percent of U.S. hospital patients got methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in the hospital.

That's 880,000 patients a year sickened by one type of bacteria. So just imagine the number of infections caused by the numerous other deadly bacteria found in hospitals.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, the director of the CDC, testified to Congress in November that MRSA infections account for only 8 percent of total hospital infections.

The conclusion is obvious: Many millions of patients are affected by hospital infections each year.

Betsy McCaughey, New York

The writer is chairwoman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths.

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