Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 15, 2006

Taxing the trust in our government

Any trust I had in government evaporated when I learned the National Security Agency has been collecting so many phone records ("Just trust us," May 12). And I was appalled to discover that Verizon customers like me are now in a giant databank ripe to be mined and scrutinized.

I consider myself a patriotic American. As such, I make countless calls to my U.S. senators, my congressman, Maryland state officials and my representatives here in Baltimore.

My profile is clear: I am involved, I am aware and I take my views to higher, bureaucratic levels.

Any company that would deliberately and surreptitiously supply the NSA with my private telephone records has lost my trust.

I cannot go back and undo all the calls I have made to my elected officials, but starting today, these calls will cease.

Now a 39-cent stamp is the price I will gladly pay for my privacy.

But it's a shame Big Brother takes such an interest in law-abiding Americans.

Rosalind Ellis

Baltimore

Surveillance is fine if it keeps us safe

I have a new morning routine - after I take The Sun from its plastic bag, within five minutes I'm outside looking up to see if the sky has indeed fallen. The Sun is so shrill these days.

As to the federal government collecting data on my phone calls and reading my e-mail, my first response is, "Get a life" ("Just trust us," editorial, May 12).

My second is, "As long as I don't have to bow to Mecca five times a day, read away."

We live today in a country where it seems that everyone has rights and no one has responsibilities.

If the media of today had been around in the early 1940s, we'd all be speaking German or Japanese.

Harold Screen

Parkville

Domestic spying is real threat to rights

The most recent revelations from the Bush administration regarding the wholesale spying on the American people clearly show that the greatest threat to democracy in this country is not from some ayatollah but from this administration and this Congress ("Bush defends spy program," May 12).

In many ways, we have recovered from the 9/11 attacks, although terrorists certainly still have the ability to hurt this country.

But the only way it can be destroyed is from within, and the erosion of constitutional rights has been relentless since 2001.

If this sort of data collection by Big Brother is tolerated, the possibilities of this information being used by a corrupt or oppressive government (or political party) are endless.

Will Congress now show the rare courage to challenge this recent attack on our civil rights?

Nora Connell

Freeland

Destroying freedom in order to save it?

Ironically, in defending the National Security Agency's policy of snooping through the phone records of millions of Americans, President Bush tells us that he's just doing it to protect us ("Bush defends spy program," May 12).

He has to curtail our freedom in order to protect us from the terrorists who, he often tells us, hate our freedom.

But as Mr. Bush shreds the Constitution, the terrorists win without even having to take another life.

Mary Shaw

Norristown, Pa.

Can a horse park be a high priority?

Did I read this headline right: "Horse park cost detailed in report: Stadium authority says $114.2 million" (May 11).

The Maryland Stadium Authority plans to build a deluxe horse park in Anne Arundel County that even County Executive Janet S. Owens opposes for reasons that involve financial, traffic and environmental concerns.

Yet in the very same edition of The Sun, I read an article that described boys sleeping in bathrooms in the state's juvenile jails.

This article further explains the overcrowding, insufficient staffing and out-of-control behavior in the state's juvenile detention centers ("Monitor details incidents at state's juvenile jails," May 11).

One advocate described the Department of Juvenile Services as "beyond dysfunctional."

Such conditions have existed for years, and remedies have repeatedly been promised.

Where are the priorities in Annapolis?

Henry Seim

Parkville

Claims law applies to all federal fraud

While it's true that the impetus to revise the Civil War-era False Claims Act was widespread Defense Department contractor fraud, the amendments I helped craft with Sen. Charles E. Grassley and Rep. Howard L. Berman were intended to apply to any instance where the government is defrauded out of money.

And The Sun's article "Improper sales of medicine targeted" (May 7) wrongly stated that "Until Genentech, the [False Claims Act] had been applied only to military procurement."

In fact, a Medicare fraud lawsuit I brought on behalf of a whistleblower in 1987 against an ophthalmologist and his eye clinic was the first case pursued under the modern-day False Claims Act. It settled in 1990.

My law firm also represented a whistleblower in a major Medicare fraud case filed in 1990 (one year before the start of the Genentech case) against a medical testing lab.

The case was settled in 1992 for $110 million.

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