No Excuses for Military Contracting
Re: “A Contract to Spend”
May 23, 2002

I was reading an opinion piece in The San Diego Tribune by Lawrence P. Farrell Jr., a retired US Air Force lieutenant general and president of the National Defense Industrial Association. Mr. Farrell is a proponent of the planned $48 billion increase in the 2003 defense budget. What is puzzling is that Farrell defends the need for this increase by writing, “for the past 15 years, we tried to buy a defense capability on the cheap — avoiding the hard choices about how to restructure the post-Cold War force while neglecting to adequately fund the forces we inherited from that era.”

Keeping this in mind, what is one to make of the fact that Halliburton has been providing logistical support to the armed forces since 1992 and has delivered the best service for the best price? Does that mean that the “best value” has been “buying defense capability on the cheap?” If so, why does Halliburton continue to receive millions of defense dollars for ten years of what Farrell calls “flaws in systems or shortcomings in logistics?”

It’s hard for a common citizen to make sense of all this double talk but one thing is certain: all the spending on defense over the past 60 years has failed to make anyone here feel any safer. The only answer to this quandary is to identify, and spend money addressing, the reasons why the US so hated by so many people around the world.

Mark McVay
Clinton Township, MI


If Brown and Root were caught overstaffing and supplying far more furniture than was needed in the first incident, why are they not on a probationary period? That’s what a private company owner would do, if she learned of a hired contractor was doing such thing. She would not just withhold payment but would find a new contractor to do business with.

Jessica Owen


Zero Tolerance
Re: “A Notorious Priest”
May 29, 2002

I think it is pitiful that the church can even consider permitting a priest to continue with even one conviction of molestation. Isn’t one break from either Canon Law or US law enough to disqualify anyone from continuing on as a priest?

Thank you for including the most thoughtful commentary by Sister Mary Walsh: “We’re also looking … to facilitate the way to dismiss someone who does not qualify as a notorious offender. So they want to be able to dismiss anybody who puts children at risk.” Sounds like zero tolerance to me.

Peter Eldridge


Pensions are one thing, continuing to wear the collar is another. As to all this bickering about a priest ‘with only one incident’ we would all do well to remember that most people are not caught on their first offense. A few, perhaps, but most behavior is repeated — and particularly the sexual behavior under discussion in the church. A single known incident may be the first or the hundredth. Who’s to know? ‘One strike’ should be the policy.

Nora Porter


War on Terrorism as Gag Order
Re: “Poltics of Victimhood”
May 8, 2002

I think Professor Gitlin has hit the nail on the head. I also think that the War on Terrorism is being used as a vehicle to further the perception of victimhood by stifling an honest discussion on the practices of Israel’s occupation, by associating criticism of Israel’s policies with anti-Semitism, and by equating Islam with fundamentalism and terrorism. This war is creating ill will among Christians and Muslims, and Jews and Muslims by creating fear and suspicion rather than encouraging dialogue.

Imran Nasrullah, M.S., J.D.
Ashland, MA