A City in Ruin
Re "Special Report: Why New Orleans Still Isn't Safe" [Aug. 13]: When I moved to New Orleans as a young man in 1967, I viewed the city with fresh eyes. As I explored Canal Street, I saw three monstrous pipes on the edge of the road and heard the deep rumble from the pumping station. I recalled that New Orleans is 20 feet or so below sea level. As I looked up at the clear sunny sky, I realized that New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. If it took that amount of pumping on a sunny day to keep the city dry, what would happen when the water overflowed the levees? I love this city and think the Federal Government should pay to relocate the people, but never rebuild. Our government could spend $10 billion to restore the city and the levees, and another hurricane could destroy it the next day. This is Nature's way of saying, "Don't build here."
Don Clary, PALOS VERDES, CALIF.
Protecting New Orleans from deadly storms is no one's top priority. This is the reason the city's main hurricane project was 37 years behind schedule when Katrina hit two years ago. Louisiana's congressional delegation steered Army Corps of Engineers funds to issues that had nothing to do with flood protection. Local officials actually helped scuttle a Corps plan to build pumps and floodgates along Lake Pontchartrain, a plan that could have prevented much of Katrina's massive flooding. The local and state governments are at fault for the lack of flood prevention. There has been nothing but corruption and incompetence since at least 1900. There is no way the Corps of Engineers can get anything done without better response from the government.
Jim Land, MANDEVILLE, LA.
Michael Grunwald is right: New Orleans isn't safe. But how could anyone expect a guarantee that a city built below sea level will not flood? Why are so many residents expecting better protection than they received against Katrina? The poor and elderly who endured the horror at the Superdome are back. How will the residents of New Orleans make it through the next storm?
Mary Frances Herrin, GALLIANO, LA.
While Congress has been somewhat generous with funding for the purposes of rebuilding New Orleans, pet projects continue to take priority. The Corps of Engineers has demonstrated its ineptness in managing the task. It lacks the expertise required to evaluate the myriad alternative solutions and execute a plan. Rebuilding and protecting New Orleans and the coastal wetlands is indeed analogous to putting a person on the moon. It should be orchestrated by an independent civilian agency composed of experts representing all the branches of science and engineering from which expertise is required. That agency would not build a wall or a levee or a canal but rather an ecosystem compatible with nature, mankind, arts and industry unique to this great place on our planet.
Michael G. Youngblood, BATON ROUGE, LA.
No Apology Necessary
Michael Kinsley's article asserting that the American public should accept responsibility for being wrong about the Iraq war rests on the assumption that we have an informed citizenry [Aug. 13]. As an eye physician and surgeon, I know firsthand about the concept of informed consent. A doctor is held accountable for a surgery that goes sour, regardless of any other circumstances, if he fails to inform the patient of the risks and benefits of the procedure beforehand. What holds true in medicine is also true in politics. The press merely parroted President George W. Bush's assertion that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, while dissenting voices went unheard or were labeled naive appeasers.
Walter Harris, PHILADELPHIA
The culpability for Iraq lies not with the American public but with the corporate-controlled media so eager to demonstrate patriotism in the wake of 9/11 that they neglected to scrutinize the government's claims. By repeating the lies of Bush and his henchmen, the media lent credibility to those self-serving assertions with the simple caveat "as seen on Fox News." The media fail our country and our Constitution when their regard for truth is secondary to the need to ensure their own prominence.
Glen Winger, SAN LORENZO, CALIF.
I was one of the 93% who supported Bush when he went to Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden. I was one of the 30% who was against the Iraq war in 2002. I was one of the 50% who changed their mind when they saw then Secretary of State Colin Powell make his presentation to the U.N. Security Council. Now I am one of the 67% who do not support Bush anymore, and I do not find any need to apologize to anyone for my opinions in the past.
WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y.
Bush's Buddy List
All the reasons Massimo Calabresi's story gives for Bush's keeping Attorney General Alberto Gonzales point to obstruction of justice [Aug. 13]. The President is trying to protect himself and his friends from investigation and prosecution. Congress has an imperative to begin impeachment proceedings against Gonzales immediately. The system of checks and balances on which our democratic way of life is based depends on it. Our country was founded on the principle that no man is above the law. No President can abuse the authority of the office to protect his own failures and criminal wrongdoing.
Brandon Bittner, ROYERSFORD, PA.
Harmony Through Hamas?
Andrew Lee Butters' story "A Sort of Peace in Gaza" puts all the blame on Israel [Aug. 13]. He seems unaware that Hamas fires rockets at Israel every day and captured an Israeli soldier. Would any other country in the world be expected to aid people who are trying to kill its citizens on a daily basis?
Max Rosenthal, HUNTSVILLE, ALA.
Butters' story proves that if left to their own devices, most governments would do fine without U.S. interference in their internal affairs. We should restrain ourselves when it comes to Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Give them an opportunity to succeed unhindered. Unless, of course, we are afraid they might succeed, which would indicate that there are systems out there at least as capable as our own.
David G. McGrady, MUSKEGON, MICH.
Battling a World of Worry
Jeffrey Kluger's story on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) was superb, especially in detailing possible new treatments and emphasizing the deleterious effects of this malady on the family [Aug. 13]. Many people with OCD fear the rigors of treatment even though they have watched their family life deteriorate as a result of their condition. A method is needed to persuade OCD sufferers to seek relief for their problem, as they would if they got a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease.
Ferdinand K. Levy, ATLANTA
The Slim Truth