Letters

In US security, a disregard of chemical hazards

Your article "A less innocent US moves on" (Sept. 11) reminds us all that while many security threats have been addressed, a gaping hole still exists two years later. Although a majority of Americans may feel "somewhat safe" from a terrorist attack on US soil, Congress and President Bush have done nothing to keep Americans safe from terrorist attacks on chemical facilities.

The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges there are 123 facilities nationwide that could each put at least 1 million Americans at risk of serious injury or death in the occurrence of a hazardous chemical release. In addition, the National Infrastructure Protection Center warned that Al Qaeda operatives may attempt attacks on chemical and nuclear industrial facilities here in the US.

There are many steps chemical facilities can take to reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals they store and use that endanger lives in surrounding communities. In July 2002, a Senate committee unanimously passed legislation that would not only require facilities to increase security, but also look for opportunities to make their plants inherently safer. Unfortunately, industry lobbying has stalled this much-needed bill. We cannot let another year lapse without closing this major security gap. We urge Congress to pass the Chemical Security Act.
Meghan Purvis
Washington
Environmental Health Associate, US Public Interest Research Group

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Musharraf's pledge with 'a grain of salt'

I would take your Sept. 11 article "Pakistan gradually purges Army extremists" with a grain of salt. In the two years since the Sept. 11 attacks, we have seen its president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, order many a crackdown on the hard-liners within the Army or the intelligence service, only to find them back in action after a few weeks. President Musharraf fired the hard-line intelligence chief, Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed, only to appoint him as the head of a major government agency. Banned terrorist groups are back after merely changing names. Taliban remnants are operating openly from Pakistan. There is no evidence to show that Musharraf is serious about undoing the Army-Islamist nexus. Also, the suggestion that only the lower level of Pakistan's Army has Islamist links is incorrect. The Army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Mohammed Aziz, is an avowed fundamentalist.

Given this background, it is likely that this current purge by Musharraf may be to avoid a coup and save his job. Only democracy can bring a real deradicalization of the Pakistani Army.
Kaushik Kapisthalam
Atlanta

A Cambodian renaissance

Regarding your Sept. 2 "Little Cambodia looks to trade up in the world": The subject was interesting. As one whose parents immigrated to America from Cambodia, I found it scary that the country is still filled with corruption and despair. I hope Cambodia thinks long and hard, and doesn't just see joining the World Trade Organization as an opportunity to "hit the jackpot." It should enlist help from teachers from foreign countries so that Cambodia can be less illiterate, and, in turn, become less dependent on others. A country that can hold its own in education will prevail in the end.

I am not there and cannot judge, but one day I will go see my country with my own eyes and will do my duty to try to help improve a nation that was at one point so strong and rich. I have a dream that one day Cambodia will be free of corruption, free of poverty, free of a government that cannot do its duty, and free of persecution of the poor.
Ren Chhorm
Emporia, Kansas

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