Readers respond to "The New Pentagon Papers," Karen Kwiatkowski's insider account of the Bush administration's secret intelligence unit that promoted the Iraq war. Plus: Are attack ads legit?

By Salon Staff
Published March 16, 2004 8:16PM (EST)

[Read "The New Pentagon Papers," by Karen Kwiatkowski.]

This is one of the most fascinating and eloquent pieces of journalism in the past two years on the topic of our country's foreign policy and the war in Iraq. Better than anyone to date, Kwiatkowski has provided names, dates and events that consist of a true conspiracy within DOD to manipulate our foreign policy without a true national debate on the situation in Iraq.

I am sure it took some measure of courage for Kwiatkowski to write this piece, as powerful persons' jobs may be on the line in the future. For that, all Americans should be grateful. Thanks for contributing to the national postwar debate.

-- Joseph Griesemer

I am completely shocked by this recent article by Karen Kwiatkowski. It was candid to a degree that I have not heard before on the subject of the current administration and the lead-up to its unprovoked aggression on one small nation in the Middle East.

I, like many, originally supported Bush's war out of fear. This fear came partly from 9/11, and largely from wild proclamations of doom from the president. Since then I began to question and doubt the administration. This article has brought me from doubt to rage. I have never voted before in a national election, but I cannot wait for the chance to vote these oil tycoons out of office. I would love to see this article reprinted in publications across the country and talked about on the nightly news, but unfortunately I doubt it will be. One other casualty of this war has been my trust in the mainstream press.

-- James Young

I'm a retired Army officer. This article is scary. It is terrifying to think that the author would believe that any of us would sign up to this extreme account. If we did, wouldn't we be just as naive as the Americans that were discussed in the article? One would have to think that the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes highlighted in this officer's account.

-- Bob Brooks

Karen Kwiatkowski's article is a jaw-dropping, deeply disturbing reality check. What we have always suspected has now been confirmed by a legitimate insider. What courage she has for stating the truth and not being afraid to sign her name to her facts she has presented. She is a true patriot, which is more than George W. Bush can say.

-- Rosie LoBrutto

Karen Kwiatkowski is very courageous. She has described a criminal conspiracy, which amounts to treason. The perpetrators, including the secretary of defense and the (putative) vice president, belong behind bars. If there was any life left in American democracy, they would face an uprising from every corner of the land. How we can continue with business as usual in light of such a world historical outrage is incomprehensible.

-- Bart Laws

[Read "Going Negative," by Eric Boehlert.]

The recent launch of the Republican negative ad campaign is yet another example of what is wrong in American politics and its relationship with the media. It seems to me that the objective of a negative ad campaign serves a greater purpose in diverting media and voter attention to campaign "process" and preventing the desperately needed focus on issues. This works very well for incumbent Bush whose strong point has never been dealing on the issues. Until someone calls the Republicans on this, Bush will continue to get away with making noise without really saying anything at all.

Castellanos makes me ill with his idea that the use of the negative makes the process more interesting. He was quoted as saying, "If you take all the negative aspects out of politics, if you take all the divisiveness out of politics, what you're left with is very bland, unimaginative oatmeal."

How is constructive campaigning bland oatmeal? This isn't to say that the American people should not know about the character flaws or the lack of experience of the candidates. Rather I ask you, when a campaign becomes all about why not to vote for the "other guy" instead of why to vote for "this guy," doesn't the choice become a matter of selecting the lesser of two evils?

A negative ad campaign doesn't feed my family, find me a job or improve my quality of life. Only a candidate with a real plan can do that. It's our stance on the issues that divides us. Why not try a few ads that actually address them? This election shouldn't be about entertaining the masses. It should be about which candidate is going to best address the needs of the American people.

-- Rhianna Sulock

The debate over negative ads has always been a stupid one. Bringing down the opponent is the point. The issue shouldn't be whether an ad is positive or negative. It's whether the ad is filled with lies. We need to save our breath about negativity and reserve our moral outrage for the true affronts: out-of-context quotes, cherry-picked facts, made-up figures, false charges. I don't care that Castellanos' ads are negative. What matters is that he seems to be a chronic liar.

-- David Karp

[Read "Spanish Bombs," by Mark Follman.]

Although Charles Kupchan's theory that the attacks in Madrid will polarize Europeans to the right has merit, it looks like the opposite is happening, at least with Sunday's election results. With the defeat of the Popular Party in this weekend's election, Spanish citizens are taking the opportunity to say that terrorism stops at home.

Too bad Americans were not brave enough to say the same and learn a lesson from the tragedy of 9/11. The only way to end violence against our citizens is to stop perpetuating it in countries around the world.

-- Eric Schubert

[Read columnist Joe Conason on the financial practices of Ralph Nader's campaign.]

Citizen Works has no explaining to do.

Citizen Works does not participate, directly or indirectly, in any political partisan campaigns. Our former president is now the campaign manager of a presidential campaign for the candidacy of our founder, who has founded dozens of nonprofit organizations which have no involvement in his electoral activities. The exploratory committee of that campaign, like all of our half dozen sublettors, paid fair market rent to Citizen Works, pursuant to a sublease, the terms of which are approved of by our landlord, a for-profit corporation, which receives the rental monies.

Joe Conason quotes that I was "surprised that anyone knew about" this sublettor, but my surprise stemmed from the fact that I don't recall ever getting a call, much less at 7 a.m., about any of our sublettors, and therefore simply referred him to the sublettor for comment.

For more information about Citizen Works, visit our website, join our list or sign up for our free Corporate Reform Weekly, at www.citizenworks.org.

-- Lee Drutman, Communications Director, Citizen Works

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