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Legal Spying Helps Companies Compete

Regarding the Economy page article "The Rise of the Company Spy," July 12: I am a competitive intelligence consultant whose business is built upon legally and ethically providing clients with useful knowledge about their competitors.

I see daily how such intelligence fosters competition among producers, resulting in tangible benefits to consumers and the economy. These benefits include excellence in consumer service, innovation in new products and services, distribution, and technology.

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By monitoring their competition in an increasingly global economy, United States companies are regaining their premier positions despite the industrial espionage practices such as those employed by the French security agency, as alleged in the article.

The large majority of individuals engaged in competitive intelligence activities - nearly 2,000 corporate employees, consultants, and business school academicians - are members of the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP), headquartered in Alexandria, Va. These people are committed to SCIP's professional code of ethics, which emphasizes fairness and lawful behavior in the profession. I believe the members of the SCIP and their corporations would find many of the practices described in the article unacceptable. Alan V. Lombardi, Princeton, N.J. Violence begets violence

The Cover Story "Texas Tackles Its Crime Problem," July 26, fails to mention the dark side of the Texas criminal justice system - the ghastly parade of death row inmates being executed at an ever-increasing rate.

Texans concerned over rising rates of violent crime would do well to consider the evidence that the death penalty does nothing to deter it; rather, the death penalty contributes to the general climate of violence by demonstrating that vengeance and killing can be acceptable to society. Steven McAllister, Rockport, Maine

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