Three parents who lost children in the 2001 terrorist attacks denounce Bush's stonewalling of the 9/11 commission. Plus: Readers discuss the Bush dynasty and the CIA revolt against the White House.

By Salon Staff
January 31, 2004 12:06AM (UTC)
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[Read "Playing Politics With the 9/11 Commission," by Eric Boehlert.]

Thank you for your excellent article and for caring. As parents who lost a child at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, we are angered and deeply disturbed by President Bush's insistence that the Independent Commission complete its report by May 27. This is an administration that has constantly used national security as a device to withhold information from the American public. Now, when their own political gain conflicts with the security of our country, there is no contest: political expediency wins. The Independent Commission's work is truly about national security, attempting to keep our nation safe from future attacks by examining the past.


Where is the concern for national security now? The Bush administration is more than willing to sell short this country and its national security.

-- Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman,
parents of Peter Alderman,
106th floor, North Tower, WTC

My son, firefighter Christopher A. Santora, died on Sept. 11, 2001. He was 23 years old. As a result of this my daughter Kathleen and her husband Christopher are currently serving in the Army in Iraq. My son-in-law Eddie is also serving in the Army in South Korea. All three joined because they wanted to make a difference.


As I read about the constant stalls and delays in the 9/11 commission, I can't help wondering if the president has something to hide. He seems more concerned about his reelection than the truth. Would the truth hurt his chances of reelection? If not, then the commission should be provided with the time it needs to complete its job in the most comprehensive manner possible. Time constraints should not be an issue here. Family members of the victims are wondering why the president is objecting to an extension. If there is nothing to hide, then the truth must be told. Thank you for your on-target article about the commission.

-- Maureen Santora

[Read Joan Walsh's interview with Kevin Phillips.]


Kevin Phillips' book may just be the tip of the iceberg and the vanguard of a conservative abandonment of the Bush '04 effort. There are indeed many conservatives and libertarians who distinctly loathe what this administration is doing. Rightly so, because this administration is anything but conservative. From lapsed leftist neocons to lapsed Democrat Dixiecrats and their enflamed fundamentalist Christian backers, this administration is systematically violating every GOP tenet other than tax reduction. The natives are restless, hence the president's lip service to spending restraint within an otherwise pork-rich, platitude-laden, fear-peddling State of the Union speech. It would appear now that the repair of the GOP can only come with a Bush defeat and with that, perhaps the party can be rebuilt along traditional lines, a sad and draconian imperative.

These men are intemperate, pork-shoveling, profligate and belligerently arrogant internationalists, and they must go before the damage they cause is crippling.


-- Dirk Sabin

Joan Walsh did an excellent job on her review of Kevin Phillips' new book and she is always a pleasure to read, but I feel that one clarification is necessary. "The notion of 'blowback'" may have been "a staple of lefty debate for years," but its origins lie within the Central Intelligence Agency. The term was coined by the U.S. intelligence community to describe the inevitable and dangerous reaction to just such reckless ventures as the support given to the mujahedin by the Carter and Reagan administrations. It has never been a left-wing fantasy that violent actions will have violent consequences; it is simple and obvious fact.

-- John Ring


Kevin Phillips is an important thinker in terms of the American political discourse. His analysis of the path the country is on and where it may be headed are correct and should be taken as an indication of the next cultural shift. But a conservative authority who bravely criticizes Bush and the cabal of cronies who have hijacked our democracy is not necessarily one who can make astute observations about the Democratic presidential candidates.

Phillips' opinions about specific candidates conflict with his own theory of a new progressive era in American politics and culture. On the one hand, he rightly believes the candidate who harnesses the growing populist sentiments of Middle America will win the election. Yet, he singles out the most unsuitable candidate to the populist moniker, John Kerry, as likely to give Bush a run for the White House. I find his opinion in this regard self-interested and superficial. Of course, Kerry would appeal to a conservative. Howard Dean is the only candidate who embodies moderate populist "disgust" and, more important, dares to actually run a populist-style campaign.

-- S.L. McNatt


[Read "The CIA Revolt Against the White House," by Mark Follman.]

I believe in war to protect our country. However, I still believe this latest war on Iraq was about oil. Coming from the Vietnam era I learned that hard facts and a knowledgeable press are needed for my vote for war. The British press reported that the U.S. under Nixon planned to overtake an oil country in the Middle East during his presidency. American policymakers with similar designs have been in and out of politics for years. Often they have ties to our intelligence agencies.

I think it's easy to see that our intelligence agencies have been manipulated to keep the plan alive on Iraq. And once the right people were in position, the plan became a go. Even though Bush campaigned against nation building in 2000, it now appears his staff was considering the invasion of Iraq all along. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks gave them the excuse they needed to do it; it's all the more clear now that politicians with deep ties to the energy industry are willing to get their oil power with our taxpayer money and American lives.

-- Ronald Fuller


Finally, the T-word is used in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. "Who's the traitor?" was my first thought when the news broke. Why the term "traitor" has not been used more prominently escapes me. The disclosure of Plame's identity after her husband Joseph Wilson's criticism of the Bush administration was vindictive, petty, cheap -- and an abuse of power detrimental to our national security.

Yes, the White House needs to find the mischievous blabbermouths, make them apologize publicly, and send them packing. It will be up to the justice system to decide whether or not there is enough evidence to try them. For treason.

-- Desiree Marquez

[Read "Right Hook," by Mark Follman.]


I enjoyed reading Mark Follman's incisive comments about political consultants and filmmakers in his column "Right Hook" on Jan. 28, but was taken aback by his characterization of my recent analysis of the Democratic race for president in the Washington Times as "conservative" -- and his conclusion that I "hoped Dean would wrap up the nomination quickly, convinced Bush would trounce him in the election." I thought it has been obvious for years that I am a centrist, having discussed centrist issues even before the Democratic Leadership Council was created, and having been one of the first journalists to assert that then-Gov. Bill Clinton was going to be elected president. Whoever wins the presidency in 2004 will have to occupy the political center, but you would have to have your head and your fanny buried in sand to ignore the movement Howard Dean has inspired. I was amused by Follman's suggestion that I wrote favorably about the Dean campaign's success, up to his Iowa debacle, with the secret hope that Dean would be easy to beat by President Bush. Those who accomplished what Dean's organization did this past year cannot be dismissed out of hand by any pundit, and although Dean is still reeling from his self-inflicted wounds, I suspect that the truest assessment of his impact on the 2004 presidential race remains to be made.

-- Barry Casselman

Salon Staff

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