We were appalled by Sidney Blumenthal's story on the Second Thoughts Conference {Style, Oct. 19}. It was partial in both senses of the word: it covered only the first half of the conference, and it focused on a hidden ideological agenda, misrepresenting the nature and purpose of the event and, we believe, slandering the integrity of the participants.

Mr. Blumenthal said that the conference was an attempt on our part to engineer a mass conversion of former leftists to the Right. This is ludicrous, and Mr. Blumenthal must know it. The call to the conference, several press releases and other preliminary literature all made clear that the participants had a variety of current political commitments and, in fact, shared only the belief that their past affiliation with the Left had harmed them personally and the country politically.

We made this point as forcefully as possible in the cursory interview Mr. Blumenthal conducted with us. This point was also made by the nearly three dozen speakers at the conference, at least half of whom (including figures such as Martin Peretz, David Ifshin and Barry Rubin) are self-identified liberals who obviously have no intention whatever of moving to the Right. Editors and reporters working for The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, etc. managed to get the point.

Mr. Blumenthal claimed -- ridiculously to those who paid attention to the event -- that our attempt to railroad a conversion of former leftists to the Right had miscarried. To make this point, he used the example of Bruce Cameron. Mr. Blumenthal reported that "the weekend did not unfold as planned. In the midst of the choreographed conversion, there was a spontaneous conversion -- the wrong way." In fact, Mr. Cameron's position paper reconsidering his past support for the contras was submitted to us five weeks in advance and, as Mr. Blumenthal must know, was not the surprise he claims. As Mr. Cameron acknowledged at the outset of his remarks, he asked to be relieved of his commitment to appear at the conference on three separate occasions -- lest he embarrass us.

Precisely because we were not proselytizing for any single political position, we refused to allow Mr. Cameron to withdraw. We wanted the diversity he represented. Mr. Blumenthal interviewed Mr. Cameron for nearly two hours before writing his story, and we happen to know that Mr. Cameron told him in detail about the history of his involvement with us. Mr. Blumenthal evidently suppressed this information.

Mr. Blumenthal came to the conference knowing that we did not intend some mass hypnosis that would convert leftists to conservatism. He knew that we intended only to give a platform to people who had been under the thrall of destructive left-wing ideas to describe that daunting experience. He portrayed this forum, in a slick McCarthyite fashion, as an effort to steamroll individuals of immense integrity and accomplishment into a commitment they didn't intend to make and a stereotype they don't deserve.



Peter Collier and David Horowitz are codirectors of the Second Thoughts Project. James Denton is president of the National Forum Foundation, the project's sponsor.