Letters to the Magazine

Readers responded passionately to our Special Report on what the country has learned five years after September 11. Several took notice of our cover photo. "It is sad that a plane taking off is now a frightening image," one wrote. Many took issue with the new safety measures implemented after the London plot. "By all means let us have stricter checks, but let's use common sense in what and who constitutes a threat to air travelers," said one. Others mourned the consequences of U.S. policy. "We had the whole world behind us after 9/11, including most Muslim countries. Now the rest of the world sees an obvious grab for control of Middle East oil. We are hated and mistrusted. How does that make us safer?" asked one. Citing humankind's common interest, a reader made this appeal: "We need the peace-loving Islamic community with us as allies. We will not prevail without them, and neither will they without us."

Thank you for the colorful photo of passengers crowded at Gatwick Airport ("The New Age of Terror," Aug. 28). It brought real faces to the threat of terror and emphasized the individuals who have died by the thousands in mass-murder terrorism. Each passenger is alive because of good intelligence work. Thank God they survived that day and are not part of a memorial. The photo is a celebration of life, which touches my heart and reminds me why we continue to fight terrorism.

Ruth Gonzalez

Lake Oswego, Ore.

Who would have thought that a picture of something as simple as a plane in flight, featured on your cover, could be so ominous? I don't know how we combat such a threat, but I shudder to think of the ways the Constitution will be ignored, all in the name of safety. Terrorists are winning for no other reason than because we are slowly giving up our way of life and the principles on which this country was built.

David Battistelli

Redford, Mich.

it was extremely depressing to read your cover story. Sadly, so many Americans still believe we are actually fighting terror by invading and occupying Iraq, a nation that never attacked or threatened us. As the article states, "Iraq continues to be not only a recruiting ground but also a training base for future terrorists." To make matters worse, we've inflamed Muslims worldwide and alienated our closest allies. In the six years since the Bush administration took office, we've become the world's most despised nation, squandered our incredible budget surplus to amass the greatest deficit in history, and made the planet far less safe than ever imagined after the cold war. Will our children ever forgive us?

John McEnrue

Kingston, N.Y.

Robert Samuelson writes in "Terror's Economics" that the costs of the war on terror could be a minimum of $1.1 trillion in present value. But then he minimizes the impact on the economy: "Still, this spending is a tiny share of all federal spending." He continues, "The result is that--so far--terrorism has been an economic blank." So I ask, where did that $1.1 trillion come from? Last time I looked the national debt was $8.5 trillion! And the budget deficit already exceeds $400 billion this year. So we obviously don't have extra money to sink into a war. That money must come at the expense of other things. Cuts were made this year in education, nutrition programs for women and children, job training, medical research and science programs. Also slated for cuts this year were the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration, among others. So I ask again, how can you say that "terrorism has been an economic blank"?

Madelon Wetor

Fox Point, Wis

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Anyone who believes confiscating a bottle of water from a 10-year-old heading to Disney World or forcing an 80-year-old woman to remove her shoes is going to make air travel safer is only kidding themselves. Enough already with the mindless scare tactics. I think the average American is well aware of just who should be profiled for suspected terrorist acts of murder and mayhem. Oh, forgive me for using the term "profiling." That wouldn't be politically correct, right?

J. J. Grimes

Watertown, Mass.

Thanks to Michael Gerson's "the View From the Top," we finally have some clear insight into the strategy of the "war on terror" and what the Bush administration is trying to accomplish. Although I typically keep a healthy dose of skepticism for this and every other administration, it is hard to argue with Gerson's logic. And at least there appears to be a strategy after all. If President Bush could deliver his message with the same understandable logic and frankness he may find himself recouping a lot of lost support. Turning the page to see the face of Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah only hammers home how radical Islamic leaders remain united in their hatred of us while our leaders are increasingly divided over how to deal with those determined to kill us.

Michael R. Gourley

Highland, Ill.

Michael Gerson's piece on presi-dent Bush's accomplishments and the lessons of "five tumultuous years" deserves accolades for eloquence, passion and loyalty to his former boss. But it also cries out for a reality check. After five years of such a "democratic idealism" and a "Bush doctrine ... directed toward a vision," what does America have to show for it? An Iraq on the verge of a catastrophic civil war, the Middle East Roadmap for Peace torn to shreds and North Korea and Iran--two of the three "Axis of Evil" members--totally out of control. Our nation is no safer and more divided than ever before and we've alienated our allies. In his zeal and devotion to the president, Gerson manages to make a virtue out of "cowboy diplomacy," and a sin out of the "infinite patience of Europe."

Dorian de Wind

Austin, Texas

For College-Bound Students I have always felt that the large eastern universities are sought after for no reason other than name ("25 New Ivies," Aug. 28). When my children were applying to college we discovered that many prominent people went to state schools and did quite well. So I told them they could go to any college they wanted as long as it was in state. All three went to schools that offered excellent educations, lower tuition, smaller campuses and, best of all, teachers that are all Ph.D.s and do their own teaching--no grad students teaching like in bigger universities. My children are happy and doing well, all for about a third of what Harvard costs.

Nilsa V. Lobdell

Pisgah Forest, N.C.

I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised to see your articles on preparing for college. Instead of the usual assertions that students must have a near-perfect SAT, and have personally and courageously saved the lives of at least five people, I found a story admitting it's fine to take the ACT, an admissions dean stressing that it's all right to make mistakes in entrance essays and statistical evidence showing that going to college at all is much more important in life than what college you attend. Nothing breaks my heart more than to hear young people say they aren't qualified for college because they are "average." They doom themselves to lower incomes, smaller horizons and lesser lives. Thank you for showing plenty of other options.

Sarah Cavanah

Omaha, Neb.

Israeli prime minister Golda Meir said, "We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us." In your Aug. 28 article "The Real Nasrallah," Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah says, "We, in the leadership of Hizbullah, do not spare our children and save them for the future. We pride ourselves when our sons reach the front line. And stand, heads high, when they fall [as] martyrs." Meir expressed a universal drive: continuation of the species. Nasrallah speaks of a principle contrary to the very essence of the life force on this planet.

Steve Campbell

Burbank, Calif.

What happened in New Orleans is a story that deserves to be told ("Spike's Katrina," Aug. 28), but I wish Spike Lee hadn't overlooked the rest of the region. I spent three weeks in Biloxi, Miss., as a Red Cross volunteer and saw the most devastated parts of the coast. Miles of rubble were left in Katrina's wake and many towns were totally flattened. What moved me most was the bravery, kindness, perseverance and survival mentality of those I met--people sifting through the ruins of their homes and a lifetime of possessions. Katrina was an equal-opportunity storm. It did not discriminate among rich or poor, black or white. I saw ruins of mansions and rubble of modest little cabins. The people of Mississippi and the Gulf Coast must not have their stories go untold.

Laurie B. Epstein Folsom, Calif.

The theory that levees in the Ninth Ward were blown up intentionally is by no means an "alarmingly popular notion in New Orleans." And they weren't dynamited to "preserve the city's wealthiest wards by flooding its most blighted." Lakeview is the city's wealthiest ward, and it experienced an identical levee failure yielding the same results as the Ninth Ward breach. The major difference is that residents of Lakeview owned vehicles and had the means (credit cards, second homes, etc.) to evacuate. Those who relied on the government were subject to some horrible conditions. This Spike Lee film will most likely set New Orleans back yet again. Any time you present one side of any given story, it blurs the truth. That's something we're sick and tired of down here.

Eric Doyle

Laplace, La.

In "25 New Ivies" we said Notre Dame University is home to football's legendary Fighting Irish. It is actually the University of Notre Dame

Allan Sloan in "The Truth about Buffett's Tax Bill" (The Cruncher, Sept. 4) reported that Warren Buffett's federal income-tax savings from his big charitable gifts will be about 0.0005 of 1 percent. The correct number is 0.05 of 1 percent.

"Troubled Time for Trees" (Periscope, Aug. 28) stated that American chestnut trees were decimated by Dutch elm disease. In fact, it was the chestnut blight fungus. And hemlocks are being killed by an organism called woolly adelgid, not woody adelgid. NEWSWEEK regrets the errors.