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Reinventing the wheel

Thanks for the excellent article to again alert the people of this region to the great possibility of a repeat disaster from a flood of Monument Creek or Fountain Creek.

As a child, my parents told me that they were stranded by the flood of 1935, and were angry that trees were allowed to again grow in the creek beds. The '35 flood uprooted many trees, which floated down to a bridge and created a dam until the bridge was washed out.

My dad said that the City Council and the commissioners had passed resolutions after the flood that required removal of trees and brush so it would not happen again. It seems that the "wheel always needs reinventing," doesn't it?

-- David Barton Johnson

Cascade

In the name of security

It's ironic that Mike Perrini's rather unconvincing Dec. 15 letter in defense of Northern Command, slamming a solid Dec. 7 cover story by Terje Langeland, was published the same week that NBC uncovered a Defense Department database for domestic spying from Counterintelligence Field Activity, and the same week that the New York Times revealed a three-year-old order from the president for the National Security Agency to loosen its restrictions on domestic electronic intelligence.

It's been fairly obvious to those paying attention that the administration has spent the last four years trying to remove any barrier to using the military for intelligence or law enforcement within the nation's borders. These include efforts to scale back Posse Comitatus laws, and to remove Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act restrictions for signals intelligence.

The members of the Bush administration who justify such actions are only partly to blame. Sharing that blame are those American citizens who demand that their government keep them completely secure, and who think that only total transparency and total "situational awareness" can provide such security.

We've blanketed the nation of Iraq with a multi-frequency intelligence grid, and how much has that protected us from low-level insurgents who don't operate in formal groups? This should be a lesson for us domestically. The only type of nation that can even attempt perfect information is an authoritarian nanny state, and even that type of nation can't stop a determined low-tech terrorist. A nation that wants to call itself a democracy better be damned careful at even attempting total situational awareness.

Has the expansion of military intelligence on the domestic front foiled a few attempts at terrorism? Perhaps. But it's also brought back the days of COINTELPRO and Garden Plot, and given us an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force that can't distinguish between peaceful civil disobedience that breaks a law, and true attempts at violent lawbreaking.

It's time for American citizens to recognize that the tradeoff they're being asked to make is ruining their privacy while doing little to improve their true security.

-- Loring Wirbel

Colorado Springs

The right thing to do

Thank you, Colorado Springs Independent, for your Dec. 8 cover article "Warriors, Rescuers & Spooks. "

The San Francisco Peninsula Raging Grannies worked hard to keep the illegal existence of the California National Guard's spy unit in the eyes of the public. We were fortunate to have the San Jose Mercury News give extensive coverage to the issue, which was picked up around the world thanks to the Associated Press.

However, the recent disbanding of the Guard's "Information Synchronization Knowledge Management Intelligence Fusion Unit" received much less coverage, as the announcement was made very quietly. The Guard hired private attorneys to handle dealings with our state inquiry and are using that leverage to try to protect the Guard's reputation.

Americans should know that Guard spokesman Col. David Baldwin, director of plans and operations for the California National Guard, recently admitted that dismantling the spy unit was "the right thing to do ... The Civil Support Division was not formed in accordance with military doctrine, and it was an organization that did not have the approval of the Legislature in the governor's budget."

Thank you for bringing the U.S. military's growing involvement in domestic affairs to light.

-- Ruth Robertson

Steering Committee

San Francisco Peninsula Raging Grannies

Spying on Americans

Last Saturday, our wannabe dictator started his radio address with the words, "As president, I took an oath to defend the Constitution," then proceeded to warn the country that the Constitution must be undermined with the permanent renewal of the Patriot Act, in order to "protect our freedom."

Then he said exposing his crimes of spying on Americans "damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk" and said it is "irresponsible" for senators to stand up for civil rights.

Without his Enabling Act, he can never be the Fhrer he knows Germany America needs!

Sieg Heil, and pass the Patriot Act.

-- Thomas McCullock

Colorado Springs

Bill of goods

It was very enlightening to read John Hazlehurst's Outsider column last week: solid people from the Wyoming border to past Pueblo, and Springs suburbs extending well into Lincoln County. Should make developers and car dealers very happy and very, very wealthy.

However, I was disappointed to see such a significant typo get through John's and your watchful eyes. It should have read 2030, not 2300.

That (2030) is when the last person stops using our tap water to make coffee; stops bad-mouthing Pueblo, 'cause it became a better place than ours; stops day-tripping to Fort Collins to see the kids; gives up having lawns; quits looking for Pueblo chiles and Rocky Ford cantaloupes (we took their water); accepts a high rate of asthma due to ozone alerts; gives up on finding articles touting our low cost of living, taxes and utilities; can accept always giving incentives to employers to stay here; supports yet another tax increase for much-needed public transit improvements; accepts closing the last senior center due to lack of funds; and once again ignores City Council elections, thinking there is nothing a citizen can do about all this.

Meanwhile, we demonize critics such as Hazlehurst, Dave Gardner and many others, then accept the bill of goods sold us by City Council and developers. No wonder we are critical of our education system, if this thinking is the best we can come up with.

Oh well, at least the children no longer will want to stay here.

-- Dick Anson

Colorado Springs

One flush per week

It was very sobering to read the long-term population projections for Colorado Springs in John Hazlehurst's Outsider column last week.

At current growth rates, Colorado's population is doubling every 35 years. If our cities are using 15 percent of the state's water today, then in 2110 we'll be using 120 percent of the state's water, and by 2300 we'll be using over 3,840 percent of the state's water. We can do this! All it will take is to completely end agriculture in the state, rip out all our lawns, install artificial turf in all parks, ban golf courses, spend a couple hundred billion dollars on dams and pipelines, send those pesky rafters and anglers to Idaho, sue California over the Colorado River Compact of 1922, limit each family to one flush per week, and have communal bathing in Fountain Creek.

I'm sure the EDC has a committee working on this. Let's give them our full support.

-- Ruth Bourquin-Odens

Colorado Springs

Away in the manger

It was good to see in Cara DeGette's column last week that the "Merry Christmas or else" crowd has scoured the Gospels and found that instead of being happy that someone greets them at all, that they can be Grinches and gripe about what type of greeting they get.

Strain those gnats! Swallow those camels! I heard this morning on NPR that the Puritans had them all out-holied and thought the whole thing was a criminal endeavor. So much for the mall being the manger.

-- Kay W. Johnson

Colorado Springs

Opening minds

The First Amendment says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Therefore, the proposal brought about by Anna Bartha from the District 49 school board about changing the name of "winter break" to "Christmas break" is unconstitutional. It is the school district's responsibility to remain neutral when it comes to matters of religion. Neutrality means that schools must not favor or encourage any specific religious belief or activity, or sponsor any religious practice or observance.

My main concern with this topic is: What benefit is this for our children? Does changing the name of "winter break" to "Christmas break" have a distinct educational purpose in mind? This is what the school board is elected to do.

Or is the changing of the name having the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion? Does it, for example, promote one faith over another, or even religion in general? Remember that the school's approach should be academic, not devotional. It is never appropriate for public schools to proselytize.

Controversy does open the minds of our children to new learning opportunities, so I want to thank Anna for the opportunity that has been given to our children to learn about this issue.

Happy Holidays.

-- Jackie Vialpando

Colorado Springs

Seeing red

How irresponsible of the Republican-controlled Senate and House to vote for more tax cuts at this time of unparalleled federal spending and an escalating deficit. How unkind of our elected officials to cut funds at the same time from food stamps, Medicaid, student loans and other essential support programs needed by elderly, disabled, low-income and working-class families.

It's no secret that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting homeless, but this is no accident. It's a deliberate result of public policy led by Rep. Joel Hefley, Sen. Wayne Allard and our other Republican elected officials.

President Clinton brought the budget deficit under control and handed President Bush a balanced budget when he was appointed to office just five long years ago. Now the Republicans have cut taxes (primarily benefiting upper-income persons) and gotten us involved in an expensive war for dubious purposes.

The result of all this "leadership"? The federal budget deficit is close to $400 billion dollars, and we can't respond to Hurricane Katrina or any other natural disaster of mammoth proportions because our books are in the red and our forces over in the Gulf.

Merry Christmas from the Grinches who stole Congress and the presidency! I wonder if the people of Iraq really want American-style "democracy"? Let's hope the quality of their elected bodies proves to be better than what we have in the U.S. Be careful whom you vote for next year.

-- Cyndy Kulp

Colorado Springs

Filthy lyrics

All those who have sacrificed life and limb standing for freedom in the Middle East deserve the highest honor, admiration and respect.

However, there is a hard question the situation in Iraq is forcing us to face. Our troops are being exploded like so many cabbages by an invisible enemy whose motive is simple hatred of everything Western, particularly indecency.

Meanwhile, at home, in our modern Western way, we continue to promote flagrant disregard for moral standards, particularly in the filthy lyrics of our screaming, pounding rap, our raging, uncontrolled sex hormones and our sleazy TV entertainment. Even our so-called adult cartoons are now profane, as though we are unaware that children are drawn to cartoons like bees to clover. And we want to sell this lifestyle to the whole world for profit.

Our rhetoric is that by our Western presence, we can somehow win the hearts and minds of the Muslims. That would truly be wonderful. However, looking inwardly with honesty, one can't help asking: Wouldn't that be the blind leading the blind?

-- Jim Inman

Colorado Springs

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