Africa is not a US strategic interest

Regarding Dennis Jett's opinion article "African confusion": Secretary of State Colin Powell does not need a lesson in how to do his job. Respectfully, Mr. Jett is more than knowledgeable about African affairs, but he is failing to understand that the world is a pretty big place and the secretary of State deals with more than just Africa.

When President George W. Bush said, "While Africa may be important, it doesn't fit into the national strategic interests as far as I can see," I believe him. I am not a strong advocate of the president, but his administration has its international priorities in line and is handling them very well.

Leave our leaders to their respective jobs, they are more than qualified, and in my opinion, no one has any room to criticize a man like Colin Powell.

Chris Peel Huntington, W.V.

Polygraph screening has no validity

Regarding your Feb. 28 editorial "Spy vs. Lie": You should be aware that the FBI's top scientific expert on polygraphy, Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Drew C. Richardson of the Laboratory Division, has testified before a Senate subcommittee that polygraph screening is "completely without any theoretical foundation and has absolutely no validity" and that "anyone can be taught to beat this type of polygraph exam in a few minutes."

Anyone can beat a polygraph test. Aldrich Ames is just one of many double agents who have "beaten the box" over the years that our government has been relying on this voodoo science.

It is nothing short of scandalous that pseudoscientific polygraph "testing" has been made the cornerstone of America's counterintelligence policy.

George Maschke The Hague, Netherlands

US should remain vigilant on espionage

Regarding your Feb. 21 article "Cold war over? Not for spies": Many Americans felt that with the end of the cold war would come an end to espionage between the US and Russia.

However, the recent arrest of FBI agent Robert Hanssen should show all Americans that espionage between the two nations has not stopped or even slowed down. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB man, understands the importance of knowing what his old adversary is up to, as does our government. This is why we as a nation must not relax our guard on espionage.

We cannot be mad at the Russians for trying, as we are doing the same to them. All we can hope to do is stop people with access to secret information from being enticed to sell our nation's secrets.

Cory Dennison Huntington, W.V.

Microsoft improves lives

Regarding your Feb. 28 article "Brighter outlook for embattled Microsoft": The one characteristic of a monopoly absent from Microsoft is that Bill Gates does not have the coercive force of the state granting him exclusive domain over the industry. There is competition, and anybody who comes up with a better idea and marketing plan has nothing to fear from Bill Gates. Napoleon had an army to do his bidding for him whereas Mr. Gates has only charm, business savvy, and personal fortitude. Gates earned every penny he owns the old-fashioned way, through honesty and hard work.

Microsoft and the people who created it have improved the lives of every person on planet Earth. Those who relish the power of the state to destroy such individual entrepreneurship ought to give their collective heads a shake.

Chris Buors Winnipeg, Canada

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