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Harvey Silverglate’s " The Gray Lady in Shadow " (January 6) was excellent and raised extraordinary concerns. He also made a valid point about the importance of an uninhibited press when he quoted Thomas Jefferson, in 1787: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." However, after Jefferson was elected president, his attitude changed. In 1807, he said: "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day." The more things change, it seems, the more they stay the same.

Sandor M. Polster

Durham, ME

I’m sorry you can’t find anyone in Boston who doesn’t think Bush "almost certainly" broke the law. Even a cursory reading of the statutes makes it clear that all the manufactured hysteria re: "wiretapping" does not apply to the gathering of foreign intelligence. Communications that have one terminus outside the US do not constitute domestic spying. Why can you people not be honest? NSA computers are set to recognize a large number of key words. If a call is made to or from numbers on the watch list, this will trigger more detailed surveillance. This has nothing to do with intruding on private domestic communications. If I call a number on the Al Qaeda watch list and ask if one of my 72 virgins can be a redhead, someone had damn-well better sit up and figure out what I am up to. The only thing that matters to people like you is attacking Bush; you couldn’t care less that the next jet could hit Fenway. What a bunch of idiots.

Terry O’Neal

Riverview, FL

Silverglate presumes, as a foregone conclusion, White House criminal conduct and vengeful motives in "terrorizing" leakers, but presumes New York Times’ public service and bravery in risking indictment by "dangerous" federal prosecutors for the "alleged crime" of publishing "supposed national secrets" which the author scoffs are well known to terrorists.

I’m a lawyer, and I’m astonished by this level of double-talk. I never called Clinton a criminal, and I gasp at freely calling "the White House" criminals. To me, that violates common decency and demeans this country’s processes of law and justice. But I’m not from Boston. If your audience buys it, so be it.

Karen F. Gray

Lufkin, TX


Regarding " Rhode Island Follows Through on Medical Marijuana ," by Ian Donnis (January 6), if health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Marijuana can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the AMA. By raiding voter-approved medical-marijuana providers in California, the very same US DEA that claims illicit drug use funds terrorism is forcing cancer and AIDS patients into the hands of street dealers. Apparently marijuana prohibition is more important than protecting the country from terrorism.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC

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