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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

FEAR OF TERRORISM IS DOING THE REAL DAMAGE

The Senate recently released a report scolding the CIA for "groupthink" when assessing Iraq's capabilities for weapons of mass destruction. Today, all of America suffers from groupthink in assessing terrorists' capabilities of attack. We are far more frightened than the actual threat warrants.

Sept. 11, 2001, was a great tragedy, but airplane hijackings are also easily preventable with passenger awareness and improved cockpit security.

Nuclear weapons are extremely difficult to produce and could be easily screened out at our ports. Chemical weapons have been used effectively only in large quantities by armies, and were a notable failure in the Tokyo subway attacks of 1995, where only 11 people died in spite of the terrorists' timing the attacks for rush hour.

Biological agents have not even been successfully used by the military, and the anthrax attacks by mail in 2001 had very little direct effect.

Terrorists may take advantage of our exaggerated fears with threats that never materialize, such as bin Laden's warning that airplanes would "rain from the skies" after we attacked Afghanistan. We now know that hijackings weren't even attempted.

The Bush administration adds to our fears with its terrible "war on terror" to justify unprecedented executive powers and actions, while the opposition Democrats wilted in response, afraid to appear "soft on terror."

America is far stronger than Americans realize, and we are currently doing far more damage to ourselves than any terrorist could ever achieve.

Chris Mullin

Amherst

WHY SPEND NEEDED RESOURCES ON RUBBER-STAMP CONVENTIONS?

Since both major political parties have already chosen their candidates for president and vice president what need is there for their conventions?

With security prognosticators forecasting "trouble" and major transportation center services in both Boston and New York being drastically reduced, why not use the money proposed for increased "security" and the disruption to the local economies for more humane and realistic measures?

This may well be the opportune time to begin to revamp the presidential selection process. Look to our neighbors to the north who in the space of five weeks ran a national campaign to select their leader.

Thomas Goeddeke

Buffalo

REAL AND OPEN DEBATES ARE NEEDED FOR THIS ELECTION

This is in support of George Farah's Citizens Debate Commission for an Open Debate. Ralph Nader and all of the minor party candidates for president should be included in the debates.

I believe if there had been real debates before the Iraq war, we would be in a better position there, in the Middle East and in regards to national security.

Elner J. McCraty

Buffalo

ACTS OF CORPORATE CORRUPTION AREN'T TIED TO PARTISAN POLITICS

Before John Kerry and John Edwards tar the Bush administration with the brush of corporate corruption and scandal, let them remember that the acts of which Ken Lay now stands accused and John Rigas now stands convicted were committed during the Clinton administration.

Are the corporate scandals Bush's fault because his Justice Department has prosecuted them, or Clinton's because he didn't prevent them or catch them before they wiped out workers' savings?

Corruption and greed know no politics. They shrink (we hope) when we are vigilant and prosecute wrongdoing, and they flourish when we are so blinded by historic peaks of the stock market that we don't ask the tough questions about the companies our 401(k)s or our dreams are invested in.

If there's something more Kerry knows how to do that would have prevented Enron, Adelphia, MCI and the Martha Stewart case, I trust he'll share it not only with us, the voters, but with George Bush too.

On the other hand, if Kerry had the secret solution all along, why didn't he share it with President Clinton and prevent all those disasters as the crimes were being committed?

Christopher J. Bieda

Buffalo

EXAMPLES OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT ABOUND IN EXISTING PROGRAMS

A recent letter on same sex marriage stated that all people should be treated equally under the law. However, all people are not treated equally now.

Single people have hundreds of benefits that are different from married people including Medicare, Medicaid, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, death benefits for public safety officers, federal pensions, and on and on.

Although there are hundreds of other examples of unequal treatment under the law (income tax rates, government funding, schools, state scholarships, etc.), the comparison to single people is most appropriate because as another writer stated: "society has offered special privilege to stable heterosexual unions called marriages because of their unique public service, that is, the preservation of the species through natural reproduction," whereas "homosexual acts are by their nature not apt to procreation."

Equality under the law is not a valid justification for same-sex marriages.

Donald Adams

Williamsville

BUSH'S REPUTATION DAMAGED BY THOSE WHO REJECT HIS IDEOLOGY

It never ceases to amaze me the picture people paint of President Bush as some evil leader who has deliberately tarnished the reputation of America and its people. One writer recently stated that President Bush is "playing politics" by using "sleight of hand and deception."

I think Bush is doing the exact opposite. He is fighting the war on terror against militants who do not value human life. He is also fighting a battle here in the United States against those who seek to detroy the most innocent of lives using abhorrent techniques such as those used for partial-birth abortions.

To think that Bush does not respect life in all its forms or he is putting on a facade for the American people is a gross misperception and lie that some people espouse because they do not agree with his policies and ideology. Those who do believe such false statements should look at how Bush respects and values all life and not just the ones that will give him votes.

Kristin Brown

Amherst

SCHOOL UNION OFFICIAL WAS RIGHT TO OPPOSE CHARTER

I believe Anthony R. Palano should get a standing ovation for his letter of July 10, opposing the conversion of Westminster Community School into a charter school by the Buffalo Board of Education.

When I chose to teach in the Buffalo public schools 19 years ago, I wanted to meet the needs of all students. This includes those with behavior problems, low achievement and school suspensions.

By rejecting such students, Westminster is "rigged for success at the expense of many other Buffalo public schools," wrote Palano, president of the Buffalo Council of Supervisors & Administrators. As he says, no other Buffalo school enjoys such advantages.

Marion Raimond

Town of Tonawanda

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