Osama bin Laden video won't change minds

Regarding the Osama bin Laden video tape mentioned in "Trying Al Qaeda: US vs. Europe" (Dec. 14): I have no doubt Mr. bin Laden sponsored the attacks of Sept. 11. He all but admitted as much in previous videos. The release of the "smoking gun" videotape will not have a significant impact on world opinion. Those who accept bin Laden's culpability need no convincing, and those who doubt his involvement will not be convinced.

A more relevant issue is the failure of the Bush administration to rally more than lukewarm support for the war on terrorism from the Muslim and Arab worlds, where the efforts are viewed with some degree of skepticism. In many instances, the Bush administration's efforts have been clumsy if not outright counterproductive. For example, attempting to suppress the release of some bin Laden videos, while heavily promoting this one, may be viewed in some quarters as manipulative. Criticizing and then bombing (accidentally or otherwise) the most highly regarded news service in the Arab world, Al Jazeera, won't earn the administration any points either.

It will take much more than a "smoking gun" or any other type of gun to achieve true victory in the war on terrorism.

Basil Abdelkarim Torrance, Calif.

I was reading this morning about the Islamic world's reaction to the Osama bin Laden video. As far as the press reported, the consensus was one of skepticism about the veracity of the video. While I will be the first to admit that the US is the ultimate propaganda machine, I sometimes wonder what it will take to convince cynics of Mr. bin Laden's involvement in the terror attacks.

Eric Schwappach Cataula, Ga.

Profiling a necessity in this war

Regarding "Image in US irritates Saudis" (Dec. 11): In World War II, Japan fought in a uniform and conventional manner; there was a clear distinction between combat troops and civilians. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Japanese planes were emblazoned with their national logo for all to see. Battle conditions were clearly understood and victory in the field could be achieved in a clear and measurable way. The commander in chief of the Japanese empire was a tangible entity.

The extremists of today chose to wage a war that is clandestine, guerrilla-like, and not within the bounds of conventional warfare. They have declared war but not accepted responsibility. They have begun the war yet claim to be its victims, and hide with noncombatants as their means of operation.

The Saudis should understand these circumstances instead of complaining of the infringement of Saudi civil liberties in the US. As a given, any type of racial profiling is unreliable and prone to all types of issues that would infringe on the most basic of rights. Profiling, however, does work in some instances. In these dire and extraordinary times, all resources must be called to bear. Even if that means racial profiling.

Tony Takanaka Boston

Don't identify youth gangs

In your otherwise excellent article "Unwittingly, California exports gang violence" (Dec. 13), I believe you erred in giving the names of gangs causing problems. Several years ago, I was at a meeting with Seattle police department representatives after an outbreak of gang violence. I was impressed when the spokesman refused to name any of the gangs. He said the gangs feed on media recognition, and can use it to recruit new members. While it may seem more authentic to use gang names, please don't give them the fame and recognition they seek.

Cheryl Laufle Seattle

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