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Letters

Weighing Bush and Kerry on conducting a war

Regarding your July 26 editorial "Kerry's bid to be war president": "Strong and decisive" are important qualities in a leader, but when they morph into "obstinate and inflexible," they become dangerous. Sticking to failed policies out of pride or stubbornness serves nobody. President Bush has shown that he cannot admit mistakes and will remain on course even when that course is the wrong one, which jeopardizes lives and our standing in the world community and wastes enormous resources.

I prefer a leader who has the humility and intellect to change direction when it serves the interest of the country, not just when it serves the interest of reelection. John Kerry's actions as a leader in Vietnam demonstrate his strength and decisiveness, and his openness and candor show a high degree of humility.
John Compton
New York

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President Bush has been a strong leader in a very difficult war. All of the evidence he was presented with convinced him and the Senate (Kerry included) to wage a war against terror for the US. He has chosen a difficult path and, sadly, has caught too much flak from the very country he is fighting for.

More should be done on Senator Kerry's part to support "our war" and our soldiers. Kerry claims to have the ability to gain the support of our allies. Why is he not working toward that end now? He could be spending less effort making promises and casting aspersions and more on trying to gain the support of our allies.

We don't need his kind of divisiveness during this time. If Kerry cannot find a way to conduct his campaign to promote himself and this war that he helped start, I challenge him to do the principled thing and step down.
Phoebe Fogg
Ledyard, Conn.

9/11 report's reforms deserve support

Regarding your July 23 editorial "Thanks, 9/11 commission": Yes, thanks! Thanks for showing us that democracy can really work when all are looking out for the good of the country instead of the good of themselves and their next campaign-button design.

I and other voters will be watching very closely as the suggestions from the 9/11 commission come up for review or vote, to see just who would dare stand in the way as these measures take concrete form.

I salute all the members of the commission - and the families of 9/11 victims - for their thorough, untiring, and comprehensive work on a monumentally difficult task.
Merrilee Nelson
Kennesaw, Ga.

Reform of spy agencies dubious

In response to your July 25 article "9/11 report: "Uber-agency would help prevent terror": Suppose intelligence reports were improved to the point where they all were completely accurate. If they are not read and understood, they are useless.

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The abiding problem is to get the decisionmakers to act on intelligence. If their minds are already set and they are determined to pay attention only to what confirms their prejudices, accurate intelligence will again be ignored.
Robert A Lufburrow
Langley, Wash.

I quite frankly have my doubts about achieving substantial reform in our intelligence structures, even with a "central czar," as long as we continue to have the same top leadership running them. There will continue to be a shortfall in accurate intelligence-gathering until we have top-ranking intelligence officers who have a deep-seated (native) understanding of those with whom we have to deal. That cannot be learned at Harvard or Yale.
Daniel Jacobson
Silver Spring, Md.

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