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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

War on terror has serious repercussions

As I ponder our present war on terror, two astonishing insights have surfaced. One is the invisible, to us, air war in Iraq. The use of cluster bombs and the devastating effect it has on the Iraqi civilian population has brought our wanton tendencies to kill to nihilistic proportions.

A cluster bomb bursts above the ground, releasing hundreds of smaller, deadly sub-munitions that increase the weapon's kill radius causing horrific, indiscriminate effects. Trying to kill four or five insurgents usually ends up inflicting terrible collateral damage to Iraqi civilians. That this aspect of our war of choice is not being publicized by our media outlets is nauseating.

The second remarkable elucidation regards the use of sensory deprivation as a means to torture enemy combatants. Sensory deprivation is a remarkably simple concept, which can be inflicted by immobilizing individuals in small, soundproof rooms and fitting them with blacked-out goggles and earmuffs. It is estimated that some folks begin to hallucinate after only two hours of this "treatment" and become completely psychotic after two days. Imagine that.

The next time you are out walking your dog, try to imagine your neighborhood erased, along with all of your neighbors killed or maimed by someone trying to "get" five thugs hiding somewhere in it. Then go home, put yourself in a small closet and duct-tape yourself with earmuffs and blacked-out goggles and sit there for a couple of hours. What in God's name have we become?

Stephen Saracino

Buffalo

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Bush tactics mimic those used by Nazis

Despite all of the statistics about the high percentage of Americans opposed to the war in Iraq, people generally seem to be going about their business as if there were no war. The thousands who have lost loved ones or who have friends and relatives in the service or among the wounded are notable exceptions, along with the minority of protesters and the anti-war candidates running for office. What will it take to make more of the general public cry out loudly, "Enough!"?

We were recently reminded of the statement that Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, second in command only to Adolf Hitler in the Nazi party, made to American interrogators during the World War II Nuremberg war trials: "Naturally the common people don't want war. . . . But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along. . . . All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Sound familiar? Two things seem sadly obvious: Goering had it right, and little has changed since the good old Nazi days.

Kenneth M. Sroka

West Seneca

Frank J. Dinan

Tonawanda

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Bush and Cheney must have guilty consciences

We're all familiar with the practice of lowering the flag to half-mast to honor the service and sacrifice of an individual or group. I believe the young people who have fallen in President Bush's war on terror should be honored in this manner. These men and women were called to serve in the nation's interest. They reported to duty with great courage and determination, only to learn that the reasons given were outright lies.

This administration proclaimed they would be welcomed as "liberators." The volunteers' efforts were thwarted by the Bush administration's mistakes on strategy, equipment and planning for the post-Saddam era.

By losing the post-war, the United States created a political vacuum, which drew in elements of the insurgent force. Bush has refused to recognize what Middle Eastern experts knew from the start -- that a unified, democratic nation is not attainable in Iraq with the myriad of differences between groups.

The fallen and physically and psychologically wounded deserve the highest respect. I wonder if the unwillingness of Bush and Cheney to so honor them is out of fear that these flags will increase their guilty consciences. Hopefully Americans will fully realize who's to blame for this situation and vote out the Republicans in 2008.

William G. Klaus

East Aurora

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Libby has only himself to blame

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby stands convicted of lying before a grand jury, to federal investigators and obstruction of justice. The News' assertion that "the rule of law could be made without going to the extreme of sending a previously law-abiding, highly accomplished citizen off to prison for 30 months and fining him $250,000. That's on top of the implosion of his career, emotional pain loaded onto his family and what must be millions in legal fees he now owes" ignores the reality he brought this on himself.

Libby had plenty of opportunity to correct the record. It was his conscious and deliberate lies before a grand jury and to investigators that earned him his conviction. As an attorney, he knew what he was doing was illegal, and that if convicted, he would be subject to fine, imprisonment or both.

The opinion that the "prison sentence handed down is over the top, and not necessary to warn future White House employees that there is a price to be paid when those hired to carry out the laws are caught subverting them" in this case ignores the consequences of their actions. Libby lied to cover an act of revenge against someone who caught the Bush/Cheney administration in an even bigger lie.

Edmund J. Gentner

Williamsville

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Libby's sentence was slap on wrist

In response to the June 8 News editorial, "Sentence too harsh," I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby committed a serious crime of perjury by lying to the FBI and a grand jury. The rule of law for perjury is a conviction that brings at least two years in prison. The crime and punishment denies the convicted person the privilege of freedom. Prisons across America are full of people who have committed nonviolent felonies for the first time and are serving time, from two years and beyond.

Libby's lying is interrelated to the Bush administration's violation of international law, with its invasion and occupation of the sovereign state of Iraq. This has caused more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths, left 3,500 American forces dead, seriously wounded more than 25,000 U.S. soldiers and virtually depressed the U.S. economy. With that in mind, Libby's sentence was a mere slap on the wrist. It seems The News' softness on the criminal behavior of the privileged class was a bit over the top.

Roy St.Clair

Depew

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Punishment seems a bit too harsh

Fabulous editorial on I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The opinions of The News editorial board are completely in agreement with mine.

Terry Griggs

Buffalo

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Too many kids lack respect for authority

We are witnessing the steady decline of respectful behavior and respect for authority. At the Pepsi Center, an unsupervised "Johnny Brat" shot pucks repeatedly toward a man and his 5-year-old son, striking the man. The boy ignored the man's reprimand so the man grabbed Johnny by the collar and took him to the customer service desk.

Johnny should have been punished by his loving parents. He could have hit and potentially killed the man's 5-year-old. Instead the "puck target" faces criminal charges and must pay a defense attorney. Johnny should be charged with child endangerment and sent to live at Gateway for a week.

Is he the byproduct of two working parents and substandard caregivers? Johnny's parents will most likely defend him until the grass is blue, worrying about his fragile self-esteem, thus issuing improper guidance. Johnny has learned that if he is the first to press charges, he is let off the hook.

Future trouble? Undoubtedly his parents will pay an attorney to keep Johnny's record "clean." He has received a green light to become a menace to society, with common or white-collar criminal potential.

Altemio Sanchez's uncle covered for him after one of the first rapes he committed. This haywire society is beyond comprehension.

Rose Mary Girone

Getzville

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Pepsi Center shares blame for incident

Where is the Pepsi Center in all this? Where was the rink guard? I used to do open skates there, but don't anymore since Amherst took over operation and let go all of the adult rink guards except one. The barely-more-than-children rink guards, when present, don't know how to police people, and open ice time has become a zoo dominated by badly behaving children and hockey dads who encourage rough play.

The Pepsi Center is hiding its head but it completely failed in its duty to monitor activity on the ice. If there was a rink guard present as required by ice rink regulations, this event would not have played out this way. The wrong party is on trial. The Pepsi Center needs a formal complaint registered and owes Charles Schmidl a public apology. It set this up to happen.

Chris Cronin

Buffalo

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Firefighters, citizens deserve better from city

As Firefighter Mark Reed fights for his life at Erie County Medical Center, the remaining firefighters continue to work protecting the citizens of Buffalo. Under the best working conditions, firefighting is a dangerous career. These brave men and women do this to help others and for this I am grateful. When you add in more than 10,000 vacant homes and thousands more that do not meet code, you increase the risk of injury and death to these brave firefighters.

The burden to demolish these homes falls on the City of Buffalo. We hear that demolition is a priority, but with more than 10,000 homes boarded up, how can anyone believe the city is making this a priority? Seeing is believing, and I see way too many. The citizens deserve better and, more importantly, the firemen deserve better.

I hope and pray that Reed makes a full recovery. I also hope the next time city officials sit down with the Fire Department to negotiate a contract, they remember Reed and the numerous others who have been injured or lost their lives protecting the citizens. These brave firefighters deserve to have the wage freeze lifted. The city should continue to protect these workers and their families with health care, retirement and the safest working conditions possible. Shame on Buffalo for letting this get so far out of control.

Linda Herbert

Buffalo

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City must demolish abandoned houses

Mark Reed, the Buffalo firefighter injured fighting a fire at a vacant house, is a tragedy that should never have happened. Abandoned houses dot Buffalo's landscape like never before. The city has only itself to blame for this. Unchecked absentee landlords have created this mess.

Mayor Byron Brown said this house was one of 3,000 on the city's list of houses to be demolished, but there are 10,000 more that need to be demolished. Are the neighbors going to tolerate their existence for long? I doubt it. You almost can't blame someone for burning down a rat-infested, crack house that stands next to his property if the city refuses to demolish it because it has no funds. The city should use all money available at its disposal, including money earmarked for raises, to demolish these houses before more firefighters get injured.

It would be wiser to hire more workers and train them to take these houses down instead of contracting this work out. Beautify Buffalo and make it a safer place to live and work.

David M. McNamara

Buffalo

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Local IDAs are wasting millions of tax dollars

What state agency wastes more money than our industrial development agencies? Numerous studies have shown that the IDAs are a terribly inefficient way to create or retain jobs. Take, for example, the Amherst IDA's gift of $1 million in tax breaks to an orthopedics practice that relocated doctors from Buffalo and Tonawanda to Amherst, or its grant of $79 million to HSBC to expand a data center and create 12 jobs.

The law allows IDAs to give huge public subsidies in return for weak and unenforceable promises. There is too little public input, too little reporting and too little corporate responsibility required of the recipients.

Assemblyman Sam Hoyt has introduced an IDA reform bill that deserves support. It promotes local hiring, living and prevailing wage requirements, anti-sprawl measures, green building provisions, greater accountability and transparency measures.

We are foregoing millions of tax dollars in Erie County. It is only fair that businesses have to meet basic standards in return for our public investment. If they can't, we should get our money back. It's that simple.

Joanna Boron

Cheektowaga

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