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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Questions on Leaders' Reactions During 9/11

August 17, 2004

Re "Rumsfeld and Bush Failed Us on Sept. 11," Commentary, Aug. 13: Is Gail Sheehy really going to Monday-morning quarterback the events of 9/11?

The run-up to 9/11 took place over a course of years, and saying the response of our president and Defense secretary was so poor that she asks for their resignation is ludicrous. She talks of response time in seconds and minutes. Isn't it funny how critics of this administration accuse it of acting in a knee-jerk manner when it fits, and of sitting on its hands when that answer will satisfy them? The truth is that the most horrific attack on our soil demanded a measured, precise response.

Michael T. McCarthy

Los Angeles

Sheehy provides a compelling analysis of why President Bush is not entitled to run for reelection on the basis of his "superb" handling of the events of Sept. 11. I was particularly struck by the point that the unarmed civilians on Flight 93 did more to protect Washington from harm that day than the entire chain of command, from the commander in chief on down.

Glenna Matthews

Laguna Beach

Sheehy's commentary on the actions of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Sept. 11 is a bit of a stretch even for a California paper. I do not believe that anyone on the morning of Sept. 11 believed that NORAD was responsible to shoot down hijacked airliners, even though today that seems reasonable. The people complaining that NORAD was not available to shoot down airliners on Sept. 11 would be the first people to complain if it had. These people would have been asking, "Why didn't they just force down the airplanes? I don't think they really had to shoot them down."

Looking back at Sept. 11 is easy; everything is so obvious.

Barry Chattillion

Oak Ridge, N.C.

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