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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Sen. Kennedy Points to Bush's Iraq Statements

March 15, 2004

In "The Fringe Fires at Bush on Iraq" (Commentary, March 11), Max Boot conveniently ignores the fact that my case against the decision to go to war was based on President Bush's own statements misrepresenting the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and the intelligence community's specific dissents from those statements.

On Oct. 2, 2002, as Congress was preparing to vote on authorizing the war, Bush called the Iraqi regime "a threat of unique urgency." In a speech in Cincinnati, he said, "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud." In his 2003 State of the Union address, he said: "Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda."

A mushroom cloud. An urgent and unique threat. Close links to Al Qaeda. These were the administration's rallying cries for war. None of that was true. The intelligence community was far from unified. The administration concealed that fact by classifying the dissents in the intelligence community until after the war and continuing to make false claims about the immediacy of the danger. Iraqi exiles are bragging about how they misled us so effectively. The truth was there, but those in the Bush administration refused to see it. They wanted to go to war in the worst way, and they did.

Sen. Ted Kennedy

D-Massachusetts

#S#

Keep Checking Builders

I read "Safe, Smart School-Building" (editorial, March 9) and agree that the school-building process is frustrating. But there are others to blame rather than inspectors. One is the requirement that public contracts go to the lowest "qualified" bidder. Poor contractors are very difficult to disqualify. There are many well-qualified contractors and construction tradespersons in the industry, but they are becoming more rare. With the large volume of construction and the availability of more attractive professions, the good constructors are too few. Workmanship is the main reason inspectors are required. As for the reuse of plans, ask the architects rather than steal their designs.

Timothy R. Stormont, AIA

Bakersfield

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Justice for Women

Re "Ginsburg Has Ties to Activist Group," March 11: It is gratifying to learn that there is at least one U.S. Supreme Court justice who looks after the welfare of women -- one who can speak to the concerns of the women of our nation. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an equalizing voice in the important decisions that affect the lives of women. The diversity of the court makes it fair and strong.

Lea Petrick

Los Olivos

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