Letters To The Editor


December 08, 2005

Cameras open court to public scrutiny

Steve Chapman's column calling for televised Supreme Court hearings was on target and necessary ("Supreme Court's `public property' belongs on television," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 30). The high court should reverse its ban on cameras and let the sun shine in.

The age-old arguments against cameras in the Supreme Court are specious in the 21st century. While we don't expect to be privy to the justices' closed-door deliberations, we are certainly entitled to see and hear cases presented before the court on key issues that impact the lives of millions of Americans each day.

There is a fundamental difference between being told what happened and seeing it for yourself, unfiltered, without anyone else's perspective intervening.

Therefore, hearing the oral arguments as well as the questions posed by the justices is vital to the public's understanding of the judicial machinery of the highest court in the land.

Technological advances, including smaller cameras, enable us to expand the experience of being in the courtroom to the greater community, thereby allowing it to observe the functioning of the judicial branch and making "public trials" truly public.

Justice Louis Brandeis is famous for saying that "sunshine is the best disinfectant."

Television is one of the many ways to bring that sunshine to the courts, and our judicial system gains public confidence from the exposure.

Henry Schleiff

New York

The writer is the CEO of Court TV.

Time to take war to the terrorists

How many reasons do we need to go to war in Iraq? Any one of those Dan Rodricks mentions is sufficient for me, and all of them are the right reasons ("A modest suggestion: Feed poor despite law," Dec. 1).

Dead Kurds in Iraq were an excellent reason to believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And Saddam Hussein's deception that he had weapons of mass destruction in 2002 was a successful ruse - much of the Western world believed it.

For more than 25 years, we in the West have been attacked by Islamists. Most in the West didn't put the whole puzzle together before Sept. 11, 2001.

But the attack on the USS Cole cinched the terrorist question for me. Our sailors were in an unfriendly port in Yemen, patrolling the decks of their ship, when they were cravenly attacked.

I'm tired of turning the other cheek to terrorists who don't wear uniforms and are supported by underhanded governments.

We must attack the most likely supporters of terrorism. And I have no problem with that.

Dione J. Meinhardt


The war in Iraq aids our enemies

Gordon Livingston is absolutely correct that "willingness of soldiers to fight" is the key to the effectiveness of any military organization ("Lesson from Vietnam," Opinion * Commentary, Dec. 6). This is a lesson learned the hard way in actual combat.

Unfortunately, most of the hawks in the Bush administration have not had that experience.

And in Iraq, just as in Vietnam, we are probably often helping the enemy when we think we are helping our friends, and hurting friendly Iraqis when we think we are hurting the insurgents.

No wonder progress in Iraq is so slow, and its people seem to be against us, despite the good intentions of our brave soldiers.

Paul Streckfus


The criminals kill many thousands

The Sun correctly calculated in a recent editorial that since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, there have been 1,000 executions nationwide ("1,000 and counting," editorial, Dec. 4).

What it failed to mention is that just in Baltimore since that time, if you use an average of 300 murders per year, the human predators who roam our city's streets have executed almost 9,000 citizens without the benefit of any trials.

To put that figure in some perspective, 1st Mariner Arena holds approximately 10,000 people.

Dave Miceli


Give the light rail priority at lights

Judging from my light rail trip to work on a recent morning, double-tracking has sped up the service in places that once had single tracks, but unfortunately, it is still slow going on Howard Street ("4 miles of light rail to reopen," Dec. 4).

Of my 25-minute trip, about five minutes was spent at traffic lights, waiting for signals to change.

If Baltimore's light rail is to be a successful component of a comprehensive mass transit system, it needs to have priority over cars along the Howard Street corridor. It is time to adopt a signal priority system that would allow light rail trains to override red lights at traffic signals.

Other cities, including car-centric Los Angeles, have adopted such systems for certain transit lines. And transit times have been reduced by as much as 35 percent.

All the new double-tracking will be wasted as long as light rail trains and their riders must continue to wait at red lights for automobile traffic.

Brian Sullam


The writer is a former editorial writer for The Sun.

Delaware's charges exact excessive toll

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