The editorial ``Post-Cold-War Spying,'' Feb. 24, observes correctly: ``The need for intelligence gathering is one of the sad realities of a wicked world.'' The end of the cold war has not resulted in a decrease in the amount of intelligence gathering by the United States and Russia. Both countries reoriented their intelligence collection priorities to reflect the end of open hostility and the beginning of limited cooperation.
To expect Russia to cooperate with the US in the damage assessment of the results of Aldrich Ames's alleged spying and to suggest that friendly powers don't spy on one another - as the Clinton administration did - is naive and hypocritical. The US maintains a highly developed intelligence gathering system to obtain necessary information on Russia and other world powers. In the past the US has cautioned at least two friendly powers against aggressive intelligence targeting.
The timing and subsequent spin given to the Ames affair made it seem more important and urgent than the central issue of the present US-Russian relationship: the evolution of Russia, with US and international assistance, into a politically and socially stable, economically viable nation.
As devastating as the high-level penetration of the CIA by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and KGB has been, it is time for the Clinton administration to be realistic about the culture and craft of intelligence and to concentrate on delivering support to the Russian institutions, political parties, and policies (not personalities) that are committed to long-term progress. William F. Dunkelberger, Randolph, Vt.
Look Beyond the Spyglass View of Russia
The article ``Russia Urges the US to Try to Stay Calm About CIA Spy Case,'' Feb. 24, gives much insight into the post-cold-war relations between the United States and Russia. This case must not go by without quick and proper action. Despite the end of the cold war we must not let our guard down or become even a little laid back when it comes to our nation's security.
While maintaining this tight national security we must improve relations with our neighbors: It is a delicate balance of trust.
No matter what you call the security organizations in a country, they will continue to gather the same intelligence using the same effective yet ethically questionable methods. Russia needs to remember that yes, we are spying, but we did not get caught. This is a significant difference and justifies the action we take relating to the Ames spy case.
Despite this sticky situation we still hope to be able to work with Russia toward a strong future. Justin Hutzley, Springfield, Ohio
Books, news, entertainment merge
The Economy article ``Players Gather Under One Roof,'' Jan. 24, quotes experts saying that because there is no monopoly created, the Paramount/Viacom merger ``should not concern the public or lawmakers.''
There is an aspect of such deals, however, that should concern everyone: control of book publishing and newsmaking by fewer and fewer persons.
At the National Council of Teachers of English convention last November in Pittsburgh, Paramount Publishing included Prentice Hall, Silver Burdett Ginn, and Globe Fearon. Since then, other publishers have come under the control of megacompanies such as Time Warner. Decisions about what gets into and remains in print, as well as what is taught in school textbooks, are being made by entertainment and communications executives whose interests are most likely not literary or unbiased. Moreover, they often own the bookstores that sell their products and the networks that interview the authors on news shows (which seem more entertaining than informative). Is this the beginning of thought control in America? Ernie Karsten, Berkeley, Calif.
A cappella group no stranger to US
The article ``South Africa's National Treasure Enriches Hearers,'' Feb. 22, while replete with fascinating detail, is incorrect on one important point. This was not Ladysmith Black Mambazo's first United States tour.
They were presented in 1991 by Britt Festivals, the northwest's oldest continuous outdoor festival, which runs from late June until early September in a beautiful hillside park in historic Jacksonville, Ore. Elizabeth Udall, Gold Hill, Ore.