Letters to the Pilot

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Readers Respond

It wasn't 'hazing,'

Congressman King


In a recent written statement Congressman Steve King compared the abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison to "little more than hazing." With that statement he sets himself apart from the Bush administration, from the military, from religious leaders across this country and the world, and the rest of Iowa's Congressional delegation. When Congressman King downplays the abuse to the level of college hazing he demonstrates that his extremism has placed him outside his own political party and the religious community. His statement underscores the fact that he doesn't understand the ramifications of the events in the Abu Ghraib.

The acts of abuse have put our soldiers and sailors that are serving in harm's way in even greater danger. With every passing week the perception that Americans are not liberators, but rather occupiers, has grown in the minds of the Iraqi citizens. Events in the Abu Ghraib prison only serve to reinforce that perception. Soon even Iraqi citizens who welcomed our arrival will be taking up arms against our troops or giving aid to those that will.

The United States is the undisputed world leader in economic and military strength. If we fail to combine those strengths with moral leadership, we will be perceived by the world as nothing more than a wealthy bully. Yes, the events in the prison do pale next to barbaric acts committed by others, but as a world leader we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Once we begin to minimize or justify our actions by comparing them to the acts of barbarians, we have forfeited the high ground of a world leader.

One of the goals stated by the Bush administration for invading Iraq was the establishment a democracy in the Mid-East. Iraq would then become a template for other countries in the region. The success of the plan relies on winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi citizens. Many of those abused in the prison were guilty of nothing. They were simply caught up in a wide sweep conducted by the military...

Congressman King, this was not hazing...The ramifications of the events in the prison will echo through the Muslim world for years.

- Gene Blanshan, Panora

Democratic Candidate for Iowa's

5th Congressional District

'Maniacal raving'


We've gotten used to Steve King saying outrageously offensive things, but his statements yesterday on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners go beyond the pale.

"King alleged that the crimes perpetrated by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison were comparable to the 'crimes of Heidi Fleiss.' If King thinks that American soldiers setting attack dogs on naked prisoners and forcing prisoners into sex acts is anything at all like the Hollywood Madame, then he really should pay more attention to the horrifying images coming form Iraq, and less attention to supermarket tabloids.

Even defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld called what happened in Abu Gharib sadistic, cruel and fundamentally un-American. But Steve King said it was tantamount to hazing. This is almost exactly the same rhetoric that Rush Limbaugh has used on his show. I'm not sure what fraternity these guys were in where pledges were sodomized with chemical lights, but it seems to me that a United States Congressman should be able offer more insight into this problem than to parrot for a talk show host.

Furthermore, King attacks Senator Tom Harkin for pitching 'partisan hooey,' but has the temerity to send out his extremist vitriol on official Congressional letterhead. Is he kidding?... All Steve King has offered are maniacal ravings."

- Gordon Fischer,

Iowa Democratic Party Chair

Casino doesn't fit with Park project


We are looking toward a Destination Park, where the emphasis is the out-of-doors and that which is natural. And then there's talk of a casino, where the emphasis is on the indoors and that which is artificial. To me, the two goals don't fit together very well. And gambling addicts lead lives of real desperation. That doesn't sound like loving my neighbor to me.

- Mel Suhr, Storm Lake

Security and service


This year, May 3-9 was designated as Public Service Recognition Week by the Congress and the President. The purpose is to recognize the efforts of those who make service to the public their profession - people like school teachers and support staff, police officers, firefighters, military personnel, scientists, astronauts, social workers, air traffic controllers, etc,

I would like to take the opportunity to say a very public thank you to the staff of the Spencer and Storm Lake Social Security Offices. These folks genuinely care about providing exceptional service to the residents in the 10-county area we serve. Callers and visitors to our offices see that caring on a daily basis - even as pressures on employees build due to declining resources and increased work demands.

While I'm at it, I'd also like to say a very public thank you to the many, many individuals, businesses and organizations in these 10 counties who assist us in administering the Social Security programs.

Who are all these people and places? They're funeral home directors, accountants, attorneys, financial planners, school personnel, doctors and hospitals and nursing homes, insurance companies, the news media, employees of financial institutions, individuals who provide interpreter services, volunteer representative payees, county courthouse personnel, workshops which employ the disabled, employers, other human service agency personnel, all of the various law enforcement agencies (city and county) etc., etc,

I've been part of the Social Security Administration for over 30 years. During that time, I've come to appreciate one important fact - Social Security is a huge and a tremendously complicated program. In order to make this program work, an office needs both excellent employees and excellent assistance and support from a large number of outside individuals and groups.

In the Spencer and Storm Lake offices we have both. I really appreciate that...

- Orren E, Knoffloch,

Branch Manager

Social Security Administration