Would Adams Defend Gitmo Detainees?
Pie Town, N.M.
I appreciated David Cole’s "Lawyers, Terror & Torture" [March 29]. A historical parallel that might add to Cole’s well-put points, particularly regarding lawyers defending Guantánamo detainees: John Adams agreed to serve as defense attorney for the British soldiers who fired on Americans in the Boston Massacre. He believed it strengthened the American cause to give the British soldiers a fair trial.
Community-Based Relief Efforts in Haiti
New York City
Reed Lindsay is right, in "Haiti’s Excluded" [March 29], that community involvement in relief efforts is essential to ensuring that aid is delivered safely, efficiently and in a manner that respects the dignity of survivors. But his portrayal of international aid agencies as a monolithic group "run by foreigners who have never been to Haiti" and who are "not reaching out to community-based organizations" is inaccurate. There are dozens of major international aid organizations in Haiti, many of them there for years. In Haiti since 1985, our global organization, Action Against Hunger, has a staff of 520 Haitian public health professionals. We have developed strong ties with local community groups, and it is precisely because of these mutually respectful relationships that we were able to respond quickly to the current crisis.
For example, we work closely with neighborhood committees formed in Port-au-Prince’s makeshift camps to identify the most vulnerable families to receive food and other essentials and complete a calm and orderly distribution without armed security. These are the same committees that help us implement a range of programs designed to provide an economic boost to people with vulnerable families, like single parents and those caring for children with disabilities.
NAN DALE, executive director
Action Against Hunger
Helicopters & Solar Panels in NY
I was disappointed with Miriam Pemberton’s March 22 "Swords Into Solar Panels," which mischaracterized the VH-71 presidential helicopter program and ignored the fact that I’ve led the effort to establish New York as a hub for solar energy R&D and manufacturing.
The presidential helicopter fleet was designed in the 1950s and constructed in the ’70s, and all parties agree that a new fleet is needed. Last year, Senator McCain tried to embarrass President Obama by publicly criticizing the cost of the VH-71 program. Obama agreed, and the Pentagon canceled the entire program, even though helicopters had already been constructed, for more than $3 billion. Other lawmakers and I advocated for a restructured program that would have delivered capable helicopters on time within the original budget. Instead, the Pentagon is pursuing a new program from scratch that will cost up to $22 billion and take twelve years longer. Meanwhile, the White House will continue to fly a helicopter fleet the Pentagon internally describes as having a "high operational risk."