Our U.S. attorney is a dedicated public servant
I am writing to protest your outrageous front-page hit piece on U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan ("No Trouble for Buchanan to Stay in Line," March 18), which accused her of being loyal to Bush administration priorities.
What is so wrong with that? Public officials are elected because of the policies they support, so why shouldn't they appoint people who agree with them? That's why we hold elections in the first place. The PG conveniently omitted that when Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he, in an unprecedented move, fired all 93 U.S. attorneys at once to appoint his own. And, I bet, at that time, the PG was not concerned about any political motives in the Clinton Justice Department.
The PG also observed that Ms. Buchanan's office successfully prosecuted only Democrats on corruption charges. But the county and city governments as well as the overwhelming majority of municipalities in Allegheny County are controlled by Democrats. And corruption is a crime committed by those in power.
The article went on to criticize Ms. Buchanan's lengthy inquiry into former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy's actions with regard to promises made to the firefighters union to secure re-election in 2001. The PG failed to mention that this election was the Democratic primary and it was fellow Democrats who accused Mr. Murphy of wrongdoing.
This article is an appalling attempt to intimidate, paralyze and silence the Bush administration by criminalizing Republican policies through innuendo and selected facts. This is a nonstory and does not belong on the news pages. The PG should be ashamed of itself for trying to besmirch the good reputation of a dedicated public servant.
The writer is vice chairman of the Allegheny County Republican Committee.
Confidence in us
Your March 18 article concerning Mary Beth Buchanan ("No Trouble for Buchanan to Stay in Line") was most interesting because of the manner in which she operates the U.S. attorney's office when compared with the office when Dick Thornburgh was in charge.
I worked as an assistant for Dick Thornburgh in that office from 1969 to 1975. While you could hardly say that Mr. Thornburgh lacked ambition or desire for media attention, he certainly allowed me and other assistants to speak to the media and make television appearances. While one of Ms. Buchanan's defenders claimed that she hired a great staff, she clearly has little confidence in their ability to speak for the office, which is in sharp contrast to Mr. Thornburgh.
Somehow Dick Thornburgh managed to serve as attorney general of the United States and governor after being U.S. attorney even though he did not "closet" his assistants. Times have changed indeed.
SAMUEL J. ORR III
Politics and proof
I read with interest the Perspectives piece by a former assistant U.S. attorney, Thomas Farrell, on Tuesday ("Our U.S. Attorney Should Resign," March 20). Despite being a registered Democrat, I feel I must take exception with the apparent characterization of the case against Dr. Cyril Wecht as one that is politically motivated. The facts available in the public domain do not seem to bear that out.
On a national scale, it certainly appears that this administration has pursued more corruption charges against Democrats than Republicans. The growing national furor over the apparent firing of U.S. attorneys who did not pursue a partisan agenda is very troubling. However, the goal we should all pursue is the depoliticization of the Justice Department, for justice itself should not be tied to politics.
It is time for the rhetoric to moderate and time for the administration to prove by example that it has nothing to hide. If the White House did not release competent staff for political reasons it will be obvious when Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and others testify under oath.
If the charges against area Republicans whom Mr. Farrell discusses were ignored for political reasons, I suggest he produce evidence of his claims instead of leveling charges without facts. To continue the charge/countercharge in the public arena serves no purpose unless there is proof of fire where there is the appearance of smoke.
If Ms. Buchanan has been part of the politicization of the Justice Department, as Mr. Farrell charges, we all deserve facts and not accusations. I personally hope she has not been part of the corruption of justice in this country.
I read with great interest the March 18 feature on "The Next Page" by Patrick Young ("Tools of the Trade"). Mr. Young describes the development and application of new techniques for civil disobedience.
The application of technology and new devices has made civil action high-tech and more attention-getting and in some ways riskier than in the 1960s. To quote Mr Young: "The amount of time and effort that is required to plan, train for and execute the lockdowns is great." The same should be said for the Pittsburgh police and the cost to taxpayers.
The "Other Side of the Page," which should be mentioned, is that we are fortunate to live in a country where we have the right to free expression (within reason) and realize that if the law is broken, our police authorities, paramedics and others will respond. Kudos to the city and Carnegie Mellon University security for their training and nonviolent/nonescalation response to the recent protest action at the university's National Robotics Engineering Center.
I cannot help but close with the thought on how Mr. Young's group (the Pittsburgh Organizing Group) would carry out these types of actions in Moscow, Beijing or Havana.
End the war
I am 9 years old and I don't believe that the war in Iraq should keep on going. It has been going on for over four years.
Almost all the time on the news, I hear about the war. I think President Bush should talk more with leaders from other countries and sign a treaty.
We need to spend less money on weapons and spend more on schools, books, food and medicine. And hopefully the troops will come home soon and safely.
LILY K. KONDRICH
Yes, there's hope
I applaud Jack Kelly's principled stand against Ann Coulter's remarks, but I'm dismayed that he still manages to somehow wring right-wing sanctimony out of the affair ("Coulter and the F Word," March 11). He does so by giving credence to the absurd argument that playground venom-spewing disguised as political analysis is mostly the province of liberals, that liberals have been doing it longer and louder, and that liberals started it.
I wonder where he was during the 1990s, when the hate-filled rants of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and many others filled the airwaves and went essentially unchallenged by the left. I do understand that left-wing flamethrowers help to degrade political discourse as much as anyone. At the same time, however, after years of feeling like the punching bag for simple-minded demagogues, I can't help being a little glad that people like Al Franken and Bill Maher are punching back.
Still, I close by again offering kudos to Mr. Kelly for not taking the low road of a knee-jerk Coulter defense. It gives me hope that constructive conversation is possible in this frighteningly divided country.
The Walter Reed scandal is no surprise to those who follow veterans issues
Joseph L. Galloway's comments on U.S. Army medical care should be nothing new ("Failing Our Fallen," March 18 Forum).
Through the VFW and related sources I was aware shortly after the war started that the medical-care system was failing.
The first indication was volunteer harassment at Walter Reed hospital. That is, veterans organizations were not welcomed because they kept telling the patients that they should be getting better care. Also, these veterans organizations and their volunteers are the main factor in successful VA and Department of Defense hospital operations.
The second indication was in the AFSCME magazine. A few years ago it reported that a member's son was in Walter Reed and needed donations for better care. This was reported to the VFW because any donations should be illegal as the U.S. Army should be footing the bill for any health care necessary for recovery.
All this information predated the 2004 presidential election and largely determined whether a veteran backed the president or the loyal opposition.
WILLIAM H. MENTZER
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