In wake of shooting, air marshals' work is scrutinized

The Dec. 9 article, "Air marshal program: Is training adequate?," seemed to be intended to criticize the marshal service.

The article quoted a pilot as saying that marshals' self-proclaimed purpose has evolved from only protecting the cockpit to protecting the back of the plane, as well. Of course the air marshals' role has evolved, and I think the article failed to report the positive aspects of the marshals' work with the same zeal as it reported the criticism.

Before 9/11, most hijackers wanted to take control of the plane and make political demands; there was little threat of them attacking an aircraft from the cabin with a bomb. This is not the case today.

People should ask themselves: If one of my loved ones were on that aircraft in Miami, would I feel more secure in knowing the air marshals are confronting problems such as Rigoberto Alpizar's erratic behavior? I fear that after reading articles like this one, marshals may be more inclined to hesitate to act for fear of the press's reaction.

If a marshal shoots a passenger who is just sitting and reading quietly, then I will join in questioning the marshals' training and tactics. Unless that kind of thing occurs, I think we would be well advised to trust their judgment, and have faith that when our loved ones are flying, they will be safer because of the federal air marshals on the flight.
Steve Weinstock
Effingham, Ill.

I think that too frequently law- enforcement officials do not have enough training in handling people of diminished mental ability. My husband had Alzheimer's for 11 years. Sometimes his behavior was bizarre, unpredictable, and abrupt. On occasions when I needed help, most officers were sensible. But at least once, the officer abruptly abandoned us and wouldn't even listen to me, claiming if he helped and my husband got hurt, I might sue him.

If I had had a chance, I would have suggested that he try talking to my husband, who usually was responsive to authority.

In the Miami incident, did the marshal stop to think that the fellow's stuff had already been searched? How could he have had a bomb? And didn't this marshal pay any attention to the man's wife, who was trying to stop her husband? I also wonder why it was necessary to explode the couple's luggage if the wife had an explanation for her husband's behavior. Finally, why did the marshal have to shoot to kill?
Margaret Mathis
Morris, N.Y.

Saddam Hussein was a threat to the US

Regarding Daniel Schorr's Nov. 4 Opinion column, "Remember the cause of the CIA leak": Mr. Schorr once again takes a story - the events surrounding the run-up to the Iraq war - out of context in order to make a point for Democrats.

What did Schorr expect the president to do after America had been attacked and nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost on 9/11? Should President Bush have ignored the warnings from Iraqi Ahmad Chalabi and the CIA about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and start his own investigation of the facts?

Had Mr. Bush not also been told by former president Bill Clinton about Mr. Hussein and the need to remove him as one of the world's most dangerous players? Hussein was a dictator who proved to have the will and probably the means to use weapons of mass destruction.

Schorr ignores these salient circumstances completely in order to refurbish the image of a sloppy and war-crazy president.
Peter P. Haase
Boca Raton, Fla.

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