Swift-boat claims kindle Kerry debate

Regarding your Aug. 23 article, "Political shoals of the swift-boat wars": I'm a vet who served before the Vietnam War. I have studied both sides of the debate of what John Kerry did or did not do in Vietnam.

One example of many: Mr. Kerry has said repeatedly that on Christmas or Christmas Eve of 1968, his swift boat moved into Cambodia on a covert and illegal mission. He was shot at by Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge and by "our South Vietnamese allies." He wrote in 1979 that "the absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real."

When challenged by the swift-boat vets on this claim, he and his supporters could not substantiate it and retracted it. Whatever the merits of his actual service in Vietnam, he has distorted his record for political gains. My old anger about his antiwar activities while Americans were still fighting has been rekindled. I won't forget when I'm in the voting booth.
J. Gary Fox
Princeton Junction, N.J.

The squabble over Kerry and his service record in Vietnam continually misses the point. We are talking about choosing a commander in chief. President Bush's record shows that he took military action based on inaccurate information. He took this action without a viable plan for securing the peace. In the aftermath of these mistakes, he is running for a second term and claims he can't control his supporters and what they say about Kerry.

Kerry's military record shows that he took military action and was honored for his efforts. He returned to the US and questioned the military action. Kerry earned his right to protest the Vietnam War. He then spent the rest of his life serving the US. No matter what you think of his record in the Senate, he served.
Mary Ficalora
Agoura Hills, Calif.

Prudent to wait on intelligence reform

Regarding your Aug. 20 article "Intelligence reforms hit resistance": The 9/11 commission's intelligence recommendations should not be taken as gospel and responded to in haste. Changes are needed, but only after careful deliberation and evaluation as free of personal or political self-interest as possible.

In my opinion, the 9/11 commission was corrupted by partisan politics and the personal self-interest of the members, staffers, and news media.
Arthur G. Shadforth
Merritt Island, Fla.

Ex-cons have earned right to work

Your Aug. 13 article "Background checks rile professors" told how Pennsylvania seeks to block the hiring of qualified professors like Paul Kruger simply because they are ex-cons.

When a prisoner is paroled, the decision is based upon the opinion that he has been rehabilitated and is ready to become a productive, law-abiding member of society. At that point, any job for which he is qualified should be open to him. If true rehabilitation is impossible, then every felony should bring a mandatory life sentence.
Thomas Giesberg
Rosharon, Texas

Exotic animals shouldn't be performers

In your Aug. 16 editorial "Humanity under the big top" you call for stricter rules on care for circus animals, but the use of exotic animals in circuses should be banned altogether. These animals are forced to perform ridiculous tricks for screaming children, and at the end of the day they are sent into cages. We need to show that we have more integrity than to accept entertainment at another being's expense.
Laura Lux-Thompson
Uniondale, Ind.

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