Letter of the Week

Friendly fire

"The Unknown Kerry" [Liberty Beat, September 15–21] is precisely the reason why I, a proud conservative and Limbaugh listener, look for Nat Hentoff's column. He is honest about who he is as a liberal, but isn't blinded by his liberalism. He has the ability to see reality and not the talking points or spin someone else wants him to see. He uses his own eyes to observe. Then he writes.

While I may disagree with Hentoff on some items, I think it would be a friendly intellectual disagreement over ideas, not the screaming invectives of a Begala or Carville. Thanks for the opportunity to express the opinion, and Nat, keep up the pressure on the Sudan issue.

Robert Spain
Paris, Texas

An officer and a gentleman

Re "The Unknown Kerry" [Liberty Beat, September 15–21]: Yes, Nat, I would buy a preowned car from John Kerry.

You ask why he doesn't sue the ones who are slandering his character. Is he going to give up his campaigning time to sue them all? This includes the Swift boaters, Cheney, Bush, and all the rest. He'd be in court for the next 10 years.

The bottom line is that Kerry is a gentleman. If he has anything he doesn't want us or his enemies to know, it couldn't possibly be as rotten as the lies, deceptions, and dangers Bush and Cheney have brought upon our country, notwithstanding the fact that they've squandered our resources on a war that had no grounding. And still there is no capture of bin Laden. Bush's actions in Iraq have developed breeding grounds for splinter groups of terrorists who are wreaking havoc in Iraq.

Bush has got to go. Period.

Sylvia Barksdale Morovitz
Lynnfield, Massachusetts

Asset management

Thank you, Nat Hentoff, for raising the issue of John Kerry's lack of candor and evasiveness about his military records, which have been called into question by dozens of members of the officer corps Kerry served with. These Swift boat vets have put their reputations and assets on the line and have nothing to gain from this. Both Kerry and Bush should be required to release all military records. The seriousness of the charges made against both men warrants full disclosure.

Thomas McGuinness
Geyserville, California

Moving in

So Nat Hentoff wants Senator Kerry to publicly release all of his personal letters, journals, and diaries related to Vietnam. "Last bastion of privacy," indeed, Mr. Hentoff. Liberty Beat just lost its groove and has joined the invasive ranks of the total surveillance society.

Jay Mandeville
Independence, Missouri

Nat Hentoff replies: Since Kerry has insistently focused on his record in Vietnam, he should voluntarily disclose all his records. This is not surveillance by government. Of course, a defamation suit by Kerry would take months, but if he were to start one, it would indicate his transparency on the subject, and the facts would finally emerge. Why is he withholding many of those records now? Bush too should release all his service records in the United States.

Southpaw grammar

Thanks for Francis Davis's article on Tal Farlow ["Speed, Harmony, Warmth: All the Farlow You Need, but Not All the Eddie Costa," September 15–21]. Guitarist Farlow, along with Vinnie Burke and Eddie Costa, used to play Sundays at a bar on Bloomfield Avenue in Orange, New Jersey. There would be half a dozen listeners, and I was one. The two recordings done at Ed Fuerst's New York apartment show Costa with a left hand that few could equal—it's on my list of CDs to take to that desert island.

Ashley Seward
Greenwich, New York

Borrowed wings

Re James Ridgeway's "Ex-Feds Blast 9-11 Panel and Bush" [Mondo Washington, September 13, villagevoice.com]: Diane Kleiman stated that she still has her security-clearance pass. I do too.

I worked for seven months at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix and was issued an all-access clearance pass. After quitting, I was never asked to return it (nor was the return of my airline ID requested). And unlike Kleiman's situation, I quit my job after September 11.

Airport security is as big a joke as the war on terror and foreign policy in general in the United States. And this doesn't even address the quality of people who are hired to work around passenger airliners (the pay is barely over the minimum wage).

When you arrive at your destination in one piece, breathe a sigh of relief.

Duane Johnson
Tempe, Arizona

The cone of silence

Re "Ex-Feds Blast 9-11 Panel and Bush": I am the president of the JFK Airport Chapter 153 of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents legacy Customs employees in Customs and Border Protection within the Department of Homeland Security. Before 9-11, federal employees' union representatives working within border agencies would be ignored as we tried to raise the concern of possible terrorist activities in order to get management to modify the implementation of its latest industry-friendly changes. To slow the most dangerous aspects of government-intended systems changes, union reps and employees resorted to whistle-blowing in Congress and the press.

Three years after 9-11, the same union reps and employees are now awaiting their permanent silencing with the pending announcement of new human resource changes within the Department of Homeland Security. The changes are designed to further limit bargaining rights and to lower an unbreakable cone of silence against "unauthorized releases of information."

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