A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

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Armoring the Army

A new take

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on shock and awe

Editor, The Times:

After four excruciating years, I should no longer be surprised or shocked by anything anyone in the Bush administration ever says. Yet I am appalled and absolutely furious with the response by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to a soldier’s brave and justified question regarding a lack of properly armored vehicles to transport our troops.

Rumsfeld tells the soldier “you go to war with the Army you have … not the one you might want or wish to have.” What a caustic, flippant and totally insensitive comment to make to this person who is risking his life 24/7 in a war this administration convinced us we must engage in.

How must the families of every soldier in harm’s way feel to hear these tactless and seemingly indifferent remarks — and they’re just the kind of comments recruiters must want to hear in their attempts to attract more people into service. I wonder what Rumsfeld would have said had it been his own soldier-son standing before him posing the question.

— Barbara Gust, Lynnwood

Whose version of truth?

“Our troops in Kuwait, on their way to Iraq, spoke truth … ” according to the liberal version of truth, that is. The main point of the syndicated column “The secretary of defensive” (Dec. 10) is that we should not be in Iraq, and it’s President Bush’s fault that we are. Are the liberals not aware that it was a Democratic president who left our military in bad need of all kinds of equipment and personnel? Donald Rumsfeld said it all: You must use the Army you have, not what you’d like to have.

It’s as American as apple pie to have the troops complaining about some aspect of their plight. That’s not to say leaders should not listen to the complaints, but they must learn to fix what they can and fight with what they can’t. Do the liberals really expect the rest of us to believe that President Bush and the other leaders are unsympathetic to the needs of the troops? As unsympathetic, as say, the liberals who vote no on defense appropriations?

I think it’s time for the liberals to figure out that the majority of their countrymen voted for the president and to pledge to stand behind that decision.

— Charles George, Stanwood


If this country is attacked, I would expect that we pick up what we have and defend ourselves. However, if the government chooses to invade, I would expect that we not do so until we are well-prepared to attack and defend. Obvious to everyone, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was done without anywhere near full preparation.

— Jim Braddock, Seattle

Class question

We must face our
economic inequalities

I appreciated Lynne Varner’s column “Conquer your fear and face America’s complex palette” (Dec. 7) on structural racism and the ways in which even people with good intentions can help perpetuate racist inequality in our country.

She’s right, and it is important to keep focus on the ways in which racism is woven into the fabric of our social and political institutions. However, I also think it is important to recognize the ways in which our American focus on race often obscures class issues and makes the poor of all colors an invisible category in our political discourse.

With our egalitarian ideology, we Americans are uncomfortable admitting that we are not all “middle class” and that we live in a society with tremendous economic inequality and economic segregation. It is often easier to blame our inequities on our legacy of slavery and racism than to take a hard look at the ways in which our current systems and attitudes breed inequality of both race and class.

— Sarah Murray, San Francisco

Taking on torture

Security fears

don’t excuse abuse

Regarding Molly Ivins’ column “It’s called torture, and you need to stop it” (Dec. 6) and your article detailing the FBI’s report on abuse at Guantánamo two years before Abu Ghraib headlines (“FBI saw Guantánamo abuse,” news, Dec. 7). I wonder how my country can regain respect of other nations.

Past U.S. governments have committed acts in the name of national interest that we are not proud of. At times, one could reasonably justify certain clandestine actions. But who will want democracy if the best example is so tarnished? A check and balance that protects from abuse is oversight. At these prisons where we deny that principle, principled behavior disappears.

We believe in the sacredness of the individual, yet we don’t speak against abuse of individuals. We hold constitutional principles as the ideal for those aspiring to freedom, yet we violate its principles when we deny fair trial or inflict cruel punishment. Tell our president and representatives that even at greater national risk we cannot abuse people. We must find better ways.

— Brian O’Leary, Vashon Island


Many thanks to Molly Ivins for putting the subject of torture in such “for heaven sakes” language. She is another American Treasure. It is also nice to hear straight talk from Texas, once in a while.

— Don Bazemore Sr., Seattle

Church and state

No out for bankruptcy

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” does not make separation (“Does separation mean no protection?” letter to the editor, Dec. 9).

It merely prohibits Congress from enacting any laws whatsoever establishing a particular religion or from preventing the worship of God. That is hardly separation, which concept is merely a line from a personal letter of Thomas Jefferson’s fed repeatedly to the masses and believed to be true.

The Catholic Church is a nonprofit corporation, evidenced by its 501(c)(3) status under the Internal Revenue Code. Corporations are creatures of the state and are subject to governance by it. That would include bankruptcy.

Churches are of God and are immune to any interference by man or government. Churches do not go to government to get permission to be churches. Churches do not provide parishioners a tax write-off merely to encourage them to support it. Corporations do.

— Larry Penner, Woodinville