Informing the public or tipping off terrorists?
Regarding your June 2 article "Via eavesdropping, terror suspects nabbed": Although I wholeheartedly support the free and open dissemination of information, I'm afraid your article crosses the boundary of responsible journalism by compromising an ongoing investigation. As you have noted, once an electronic source is publically revealed, it quickly goes off-line. Osama Bin Laden ceased his employment of an Inmarsat satellite phone because he was tipped off about American eavesdropping. You have done the intelligence services a grave disservice by revealing sources and methods that allow us to chip away at the cloak of anonymity these fanatics require to plan and organize future operations.
Coal Township, Pa.
I found your story about terrorists being tracked by tracing their cellphone signals very enlightening; unfortunately I am sure the terrorists did as well.
Overland Park, Kan.
Editor's note: We received dozens of letters similar to these last week from concerned readers. In fact, the information in our story came primarily from official sources who were willing to describe their work because the terrorists already know about these methods. None of the information was classified, and the law-enforcement officials who provided it expressed no concern about its publication.
Regarding your June 3 article "Why oil prices are stubbornly high": OPEC ministers have an interest in keeping oil prices low because when oil prices rise, alternative energy sources become more interesting.
Instead of allowing foreigners to control our energy policy, we should engage in an accelerated program of electric-vehicle construction. A sizable fleet of EVs will not only reduce demand for foreign oil, but will also reduce air, land, and water pollution caused by burning oil.
Seal Beach, Calif.
Regarding Godfrey Sperling's June 1 Opinion piece "Bush likability not to be underrated": Why should our selection of a president be reduced to a popularity contest? The job is far too important, and the long-term effects of a bad choice are far too serious. Vetting a candidate as if he or she were a potential prom date or luncheon partner trivializes our duty as citizens to choose the most qualified person to lead our country. Our present national mess is desperately in need of a little more substance and a little less flash, for more thoughtful flexibility and less staying a course that isn't working.
Regarding your June 1 article "We are the parents. Is anyone listening?": As an attorney and the editor of a monthly periodical on No Child Left Behind, I've heard from many educators who struggle with keeping parents informed the way the law envisions. Filling a letter with lots of jargon and legalese is easy, but doesn't help parents make crucial decisions - which you rightly note is a big part of the law's intent. But without nuance, a notice can send parents into needless panic.
The solution requires honesty and hard work: looking at schools through parents' eyes, and hearing one's own words through parents' ears. No Child Left Behind represents a halting step in that direction, but one that's necessary after decades of unresponsive bureaucracy that too often put parents' concerns last.
Christian P. Johnson
Editor, No Child Left Behind Compliance Insider
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