Before invading Iraq, Bush should have allowed inspections to finish

In his April 12 column, "Bush had good reason to believe there were WMD in Iraq," John Hughes concludes that President Bush did not knowingly lie to the American public about the existence of Iraqi WMD. Mr. Hughes may be right, but his conclusions ignore the issue of the president's judgment in deciding to invade Iraq in the first place.

As Hughes points out, Saddam Hussein went to great lengths to mislead both his own generals and the outside world about Iraqi WMD. At the time of our US invasion, many of our allies were suspicious of Mr. Hussein's sudden claim that Iraq no longer had WMD. But that is why the UN had restarted their inspection program.

What most of the rest of the world counseled was to allow these inspections to play out. But Mr. Bush ignored this. I think he chose old intelligence information about Iraqi WMD and speculation about what might happen over more current inspection results and what continuing inspections might have brought.

Three years after Bush's rush to war, Iraq is adrift, tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans are dead or injured, hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent, and an invigorated terrorist network is flourishing in the Middle East.

Either Bush has been dishonest about his reasons for going to war, or he has been incompetent in pre- and post-invasion assessments, decisions, and execution.
Phil Bock
Libertyville, Ill.

Healthcare bill invades privacy

In his April 14 Opinion column, "In Massachusetts, a nonpartisan good deed," Daniel Schorr neglected to report a very important fact about the new mandatory medical-insurance law in Massachusetts: It infringes upon all citizens' privacy.

The law requires insurers and health-care providers to submit patient data to a centralized clearinghouse (a new council) without obtaining individuals' consent. Insurers and providers who fail to submit "required data" to the council on a timely basis will face financial penalties (a penalty of $1,000 for each week of delay; a maximum penalty of $50,000).

Is the new law that mandates the invasion of privacy - with the intent of covering some who are uninsured - really a good deed? Surely, there must be a better way to help the uninsured without overriding the precious ethics of privacy and consent.
Sue Blevins
President, Institute for Health Freedom

If Iran wants nukes, maybe worry is why

Regarding Helena Cobban's April 13 Opinion column, "Work through the NPT to address concerns about Iranian nukes": I'm old enough to remember threats from Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev to "bury us" as he built an ever larger arsenal of nuclear missiles. I also recall the angst when the then anti-Western government of India exploded its first nuclear bomb. Pakistan has the bomb, and we Americans shudder at what will happen if there is an Islamic revolution there. Former Soviet states have insufficiently guarded nuclear material, and we spend little to help safeguard it.

If the Dubai ports deal was a security concern to many, and cries against it were to others "racism," couldn't opinions about Iran getting the bomb be comprised of a few of the same elements? We must consider the possibility that Iran wants the same deterrent that many other states employ. And while I don't stay up nights worrying that Israel has the bomb, some Iranians probably do - whether rationally or not.
June Sullivan
Lawrence, N.Y.

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