KUDOS TO CORN
Kudos to David Corn for being the first to report Robert Novak's White House leak way back in July. Simply the best investigative reporting, which I've come to expect from The Nation. My roommate called me into the room while watching the "breaking" Joe Wilson-White House news on CNN, to ask if I had heard. Yes, I said--months ago.
MATTHEW G. GRONDIN
I offer my praise and admiration to David Corn. Long before the mainstream media were gasping about the White House leak, Corn was reporting the story. I immediately referenced his column(s) when I began seeing the leak scandal on TV and felt immensely thankful knowing that I can rely on The Nation and its reporters. Kudos to a sublime publication that illustrates the need for unfiltered, honest, investigative reporting.
NOVAK: 'CRAVEN WATER-CARRIER'
As probably one of a small number of registered Republicans who read The Nation cover to cover every week, I have often disagreed with its commentary. Not this past week. Thank you, Eric Alterman, for giving voice to something I and other conservatives (not neocons) have been raging about ["Stop the Presses," Nov. 3]: Robert Novak is not, nor has he ever been, a journalist. He is a craven water-carrier for every hateful agenda ever concocted by the radical fringe of what was once a worthy party. His despicable and cowardly action in "outing" the estimable wife of former ambassador Joe Wilson should have made him a pariah. While I rigorously defend the sacred rights of journalists to protect sources, for this Neanderthal I extend no such privilege. He should be tried and imprisoned. He is not Daniel Ellsberg bringing important new knowledge forward. He is a worthless scoundrel.
The Novak incident is distressing to anyone in the intelligence community. As a retired member of that group I have always trusted that my connection would never be exposed (placing not only myself but my family in danger). Then to see the smug Novak not only exposing someone but not being jailed for it is beyond belief. The person who leaked the information to him should be punished, but Novak should be charged with treason for naming a member of the intelligence community in a time of war.
"JOHN C. ANDREWS"
As Eric Alterman implies, the mainstream media have dropped the ball on Robert Novak's revelation of the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Perhaps they believe that criticizing Novak will narrow the reporter's privilege to keep information sources confidential. But the reporter's privilege is not absolute. Every case requires balancing the public's First Amendment right to know against the government's interest in confidentiality. In this case the public has no "right to know" the information revealed, and Novak has no right to invoke the First Amendment. Unlike a typical whistleblower case, this was not a leak of information useful to the public; it was a deliberate plant for political purposes.
former judge and professor of constitutional law
COUP IN THE GOLDEN STATE
Your coverage of the recent recall of California Governor Gray Davis was abominable ["The Morning After in California," Oct. 27]. Your editorial and Marc Cooper and Alexander Cockburn all attempt to portray it as some kind of spontaneous populist rebellion instead of what it was: a right-wing coup, fueled by $1.7 million from reactionary Congressman Darrell Issa and pushed to success by relentless propaganda on hard-right radio talk shows.
Davis wasn't targeted for recall for what he did wrong but for what he did right. Despite his Clintonesque corporate whoredom, he actually did a lot of progressive things in office, like signing into law the nation's toughest antipollution laws against cars, ordering that workers be paid overtime after eight hours a day (reversing the viciously anti-labor policy of his Republican predecessor, Pete Wilson), signing domestic-partner legislation that goes further in recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian couples than any other state's besides Vermont, supporting the rights of Native Americans to raise money through gambling and, most notorious for his opponents, signing a bill to give undocumented immigrants driver's licenses.
The pro-recall propagandists unashamedly promised to end all these progressive advances. Under Arnold Schwarzenegger--who showed his true colors when he refused campaign contributions from labor and Native Americans on the grounds that they were "special interests" but accepted them from corporations and land developers--California's workers, people of color and queers are likely to find themselves the second-class citizens they were under Davis's predecessors. And contrary to your pie-in-the-sky hopes, Schwarzenegger as governor is more likely to help George Bush's chances for election in 2004.
MARK GABRISH CONLAN
You have ignored California progressives' tremendous gains during the past five years despite Governor Davis. Rather than allow the Democratic governor to limit their agendas, activists held his feet to the fire and mobilized the grassroots to win sweeping progressive victories, including passage of the country's strictest auto-emissions standards, record spending for affordable housing and a domestic-partner law covering more than 15 percent of the nation's lesbians and gays. Davis signed bills doubling unemployment benefits, increasing worker protections, authorizing driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants and bolstering union organizing. California enacted Senator John Burton's "pay to play" healthcare measure, which will bring coverage to more than 1 million residents.
Davis rarely publicized these and often signed the bills, like the measure boosting farmworker organizing, only under pressure. Many progressives know only about Davis's support for prisons, but the record of progressive achievements in California since 1999 is clear. The message is that progressive gains are won when the grassroots are mobilized. This is a lesson worth remembering should America elect Wesley Clark or Howard Dean next year.
director, Housing America/Tenderloin Housing Clinic
Christian Parenti's "Stretched Thin, Lied to & Mistreated" [Oct. 6] is some of the best journalism I have read on the war. It is edgy, detailed and goddamn brilliant. It amazes me that dozens of TV channels are filled with thousands of hours of reporting about this war, and they have failed to tell the story one-tenth as well as Parenti. Damn good job.
Mercer Island, Wash.
Your cover story is one of the shittiest things I have seen you do. Criticize Bush, Rummy et al., call our government corrupt and immoral, reveal the inanities of our elected public officials, but never, ever make the job of our military men and women more difficult than it already is. Telling them they have been lied to and mistreated is to ask them to frag their leaders; you are traitors to them and their leaders for engaging in this irresponsible speech.
Old Greenwich, Conn.
"Stretched Thin, Lied to & Mistreated" gave me flashbacks. I am a Vietnam vet. The low morale, the ill-defined mission, a hostile indigenous population, the inadequate training for the war and dangers young soldiers face daily besieged us in that long-ago struggle. I am stunned and saddened that this also prevails today for our soldiers in Iraq. Poor equipment, antiquated weaponry and inadequate housing and food are outrages that must be redressed immediately. Perhaps part of that roughly $10 billion (of the $87 billion Iraqi aid package) slated for the likes of Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan could be diverted to our troops.
Your article on the Florida Army National Guard in Baghdad was right on target. I spent sixteen years in A Company and retired in 1998 as its first sergeant. I've known many of its senior NCOs and officers since they were privates and green lieutenants. They are the finest men and soldiers I have ever known, and I am outraged by the treatment they are enduring. Sadly, it is symptomatic of a far larger problem experienced by the rest of the Florida Brigade and reservists in general.
The officers who reshaped the military after the Vietnam War intentionally shifted a large portion of the combat force into National Guard and Reserve forces to insure that in future conflicts the political leaders would seriously weigh the consequences and seek a broad base of public support before going to war. But this is a two-edged sword. While the call-ups bring a broad spectrum of public commitment, the treatment of these soldiers will quickly erode that support. These soldiers have become the new draftees. As a Vietnam veteran, I see the Regular Army "lifers" treating them with the same indifference the young draftees were treated with then. These soldiers were mobilized as individual companies, not as an intact brigade. I have received e-mails from company commanders and soldiers requesting everything from duct tape to portable two-way radios to ammunition. I fear they will return home as bitter and disillusioned as my generation did some twenty-five years ago.
Granite City, Ill.
This article is dead on about the sad state of affairs in Iraq. Even sadder is that I'm old enough to remember reading the same type of article about Vietnam. And about the USSR in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Heavy weapons cannot erase the handwriting on the wall, they can only destroy the buildings.
THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR...
Oro Valley, Ariz.
Several of your contributors have made factual errors, which I wish to correct. First, they refer to George W. Bush as a Texan. He is not a Texan. I am a Texan, or more accurately a Texian, because my great-grandparents (who arrived there in 1839) were in Texas when it was a Republic. Bush was born in Connecticut so I suppose that makes him a Conn man.
Second, Bush does not wear "cowboy boots." Cowboy boots have the manure on the outside.
JOSEPH M. BRANOM