Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 13, 2007

U.S. law requires anti-missile system

The Sun's editorial position on the U.S. missile defense program is not only misinformed, it is irresponsible ("The missile gap," Dec. 9).

To tell readers that "the only way an Iranian missile could inflict really serious damage" is if it had a nuclear weapon completely disregards the deadly consequences of a ballistic or cruise missile loaded with a chemical, biological or even a high-explosive warhead.

Any of these weapons could kill thousands of people, and are readily available to North Korea, Iran and non-state terrorist organizations.

The Sun has also erred regarding missile defense funding. With such a huge amount of information available, it is unbelievable that The Sun would tell its readers that "the U.S. is pouring $9 billion this year" into long-range missile defense.

Even a cursory review of congressional funding documents would show that the $9 billion cited by The Sun is for research, development, testing, procurement and deployment of all U.S. missile defense elements, with more than two-thirds of the money devoted to defending against short- to medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles that are abundant around the world and today threaten our military forces, our allies and friends.

Finally, The Sun seems to have forgotten that deployment of a missile defense system to protect the United States is the law.

In July 1999, then-President Bill Clinton signed a law directing the Defense Department to deploy a missile defense to protect all 50 states as soon as technologically possible.

With only four failures in 11 tests of the long-range missile defense system since 1999, the technology necessary to defend ourselves is proven.

Also, since 2001, missile defense interceptors of all ranges have successfully destroyed 33 target missiles in 40 tests.

This is an enviable record, and certainly doesn't justify The Sun's recommendation that we "hold off" to allow technology a chance to "catch up."

Rick Lehner

Washington

The writer is director of public affairs for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

Rare sense of sanity in policy on Iran

Last week, when I read that the CIA destroyed videotapes of "intense interrogations" and heard Bush administration lawyers argue before the Supreme Court that prisoners in Guantanamo have no fundamental due process rights, it was easy to be convinced that this government has been blinded by fear and lost sight of the ideals of liberty and fairness that attracted me, and perhaps most other immigrants, to this great land.

But then comes news that instead of assassinating Iranian scientists and officials working on that country's nuclear projects, the CIA gave them the opportunity to defect, gaining not only useful intelligence about the status of the Iranian program but also slowing it with a brain drain ("CIA sought Iranians," Dec. 9).

So perhaps there is hope that, even in this administration, one can find intelligent policies that protect us without assaulting our moral standards.

Reza Shadmehr

Ellicott City

Sowers sentencing a travesty of justice

What a travesty of justice the Zachary Sowers case and sentencing was ("40 years given in attack," Dec. 11).

Four teenage thugs rob and then stomp Mr. Sowers into a coma, and what happens to them? Three of them were sentenced to eight years in prison and the main perpetrator gets 40 years but will be eligible for parole in 20 years.

Shame on the entire Baltimore judicial system.

Kurt S. Willem

Hydes

Broaden base, cut rate for sales tax

It is not surprising that the owners of computer services companies object to paying the new tax ("Repeal sought for computer tax," Dec. 9).

I don't much like the idea of the coming 20 percent increase in the sales tax either. So here is a thought: Let's cut the sales tax from the new 6 percent rate to 5.5 percent and apply the tax to a wide range of services that now go untaxed.

Many states already tax more services than Maryland does.

The principle here is simple - broaden the tax base and lower the tax rate.

And we shouldn't forget to look very closely at the 18 business tax credit programs Maryland provides to see which ones still make sense today.

Dick Strombotne

Gaithersburg

The writer is president of the Maryland chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.

A Schaefer statue belongs at station

Edward Gunts wrote an excellent article that clearly points up the need for the Public Art Commission ("Public Art: Who Decides?" Dec. 9). I was very happy to hear that its discussions have been so thoughtful and that its members seem to be genuinely concerned about the public interest.

I agree that a traditional statue of William Donald Schaefer in the Inner Harbor area would look out of place.

Many such traditional statues downtown look dwarfed and unimportant these days.

One solution for the Schaefer statue would be to put it where the Jonathan Borofsky sculpture now stands, in front of Penn Station.

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