Bechtel and the bidding process for Iraq work

In your Oct. 7 article "Congress hits warpath on Iraq funding issues," you incorrectly refer to Bechtel's contract for Iraq Infrastructure as "no-bid." We have grown used to the fabrication, but it simply isn't fact.

Six American companies competed aggressively for the $680 million contract, which was ultimately awarded to Bechtel by USAID. That list of bidders is public record. It is a list of American contractors who have the demonstrated capability, experience, and resource depth to complete a large infrastructure project in Iraq. Yet the press continues to hype this contract as no-bid. Too bad, though, because it seems like factual information is something a newspaper might want to offer its readers.

Finally, I would note that it is discouraging to the Bechtel men and women working hard everyday in Iraq, putting themselves at risk far away from home and family, to be repeatedly confronted with this misinformation. These are people who know in their hearts they are doing something good, and they find it difficult to reconcile that their role, as characterized by the press, is somehow inappropriate or wrong.
Cliff Mumm
BaghdadBechtel Program Manager

Iraq Reconstruction Project

Editor's note: The writer is correct that Bechtel did not participate in a "no-bid" process. We apologize for the error. The debate in Congress is rather about the fact that only six companies were allowed to bid, that other companies did not know about it, and that the list of companies was not made public until after the contract was granted.

Born to be wild

Regarding your Oct. 14 article "Lions and tigers as pets: Should they roam freely?": I was surprised to learn that only 19 states prohibit the possession of exotic animals as pets, and that no federal law bans it. Where are these animals being kept? In cages? Bedrooms? Small backyards? I shudder to think of it. Congress and the remaining states should act immediately to make it illegal for private citizens to own such pets.

These animals have a right to live the life God intended - growing, hunting, roaming, forming social bonds, bearing offspring, and dying in their natural habitats. Wild creatures do not exist for our amusement.
Jennifer Thomas-Larmer
Watertown, Mass.

A parking sign - and a sign of decency

Regarding the Oct. 10 Opinion "Pregnant, yes. Disabled, no.": Expectant-mother parking is a wonderful idea. Has our society forgotten how to be polite? To do something nice for the sake of niceness? When I lived in Boston, I was amazed at how many pregnant women would board public transportation and search in vain for a seat. I realized how far from common decency, courtesy, and respect our society seems to have drifted.

How wonderful that Westfield Company and other retailers have adopted family-friendly features such as expectant-mother parking. Pregnancy generally is not considered a disability, but it is a condition that, let's hope, compels other members of a community to be a bit more sensitive.
Pamela Livingstone Fels
Los Angeles

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