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Probing the 'October Surprise'

Regarding the opinion-page column "On Hostages and Captivity," Aug. 21, on the "October surprise": One should not fall into the easy delusion that if something actually happened, the secret died with CIA chief Bill Casey. In addition to the many individuals who claim that the Paris meetings happened, there are no less than three individuals who claim that they attended those meetings. While it is entirely possible that those men are lying, what cannot be denied is that they all share a common background of being steeped in skulduggery. Jon Arnold, Chicago

President Bush said that it is a "cruel" thing that the captors of the hostages do with hints of releases that often do not materialize. Is it any less cruel to request holding back the release of hostages for one's own political gain? The "October Surprise" investigation must continue. B. & E. Nilenders, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.

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Are we afraid to ask? The editorial "Swords and Plowshares," Aug. 21, exposes one of the contradictions of the Bush administration's many policy positions. The editorial says: "The Bush administration has tended to advocate both arms control and continued large arms transfers to the Middle East." Why the contradiction? Why are we continuing to feed the fires of additional violence in the Middle East? Is it possible that we have converted so much of our national manufacturing capacity to the military-industrial complex that we have relatively little else to export? We have been misled by the administration on many issues, foreign and domestic, and aggressive, investigative reporting in print as well as TV seems to have weakened considerably. It's almost like the hidden presence of a censor, as I recall during World War II, a sort of fear to say too much in a letter home. Are we becoming afraid of our own government? Wayne A. Lawson, Bellevue, Wash.

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