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Judging the Cunningham case

November 30, 2005

Re "Rep. Cunningham Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Resigns," Nov. 29

Now that former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe) has pleaded guilty to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion in a political corruption case, will the government go after Mitchell Wade and MZM Inc. for allegedly giving those bribes? According to court documents, they got $163 million in contracts illegally. Shouldn't they have to return that money? Shouldn't they have to pay a price for undermining the United States?

JOANNE MINSKY

San Francisco

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U.S. Atty. Carol Lam suggests that Cunningham's worst act was enriching himself through his position. Perhaps, but it's noteworthy that the firm, MZM Inc., that Cunningham is suspected of cozying up to has been involved in "gathering and analysis of intelligence" for the past decade.

Given that we are increasingly recognizing that the intelligence underlying the decision to invade Iraq was fatally flawed, if any of MZM's intelligence was in this mix, the crime of illegally amassed wealth pales in comparison to the ongoing death and disability this war has created.

Irony is an often misused term, but to have a former war hero engaged in dealings that might have put present-day war fighters at risk is truly tragic irony.

KEVIN PATRICK

Del Mar

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So Cunningham pleads guilty. No explanations that it is just some technicality? No blaming other people? Just admitting that he has done seriously wrong and must atone for it? Somehow, my respect for the man has just risen.

Not that I think him a saint, but having taken that critical first step, perhaps he is headed in the right direction to actually learn and redeem himself.

RICHARD MAINE

Palmdale

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