An INS Job Well Done

Regarding George Lardner's Jan. 30 front-page article about the detention of Brookings Institution scholar Ejaz Haider by the Immigration and Naturalization Service: We rail, correctly, that the INS, among other government agencies, failed to do its job and through its negligence allowed terrorists to kill thousands and demolish a world symbol on Sept. 11, 2001. Now Lardner uses inflammatory language to describe a case in which the INS does do its job.

The law applies to everyone; the rules are clear, and someone as smart as Haider should be able to follow them. People in the highest of positions should be held to the highest standards.

The article uses inflammatory language, such as "relentless enforcement" and "armed agents accosted him," to describe officers in the performance of their duty. They are not muggers trying to steal a wallet or flashers exposing themselves to an old woman. They were doing their job. As for their being armed, well, by George, I would hope so.

-- Jeffrey S. Wall

Not My Spokesman

A Jan. 25 Religion article reports: "Richard Land, speaking for the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, countered with a letter supporting the president and assuring him that the Iraqi threat satisfied the conditions of a 'just war' that have guided clergy for 1,600 years" ["Evangelicals' Voices Speak Softly About Iraq," Metro].

Baptists do not have a "spokesperson." Each Baptist church is autonomous, and within that church each member speaks only for himself or herself.

Baptists are individually called to belief in God and service to man. Therefore Baptists are individually responsible to God in word and deed.

Richard Land is entitled to, and responsible for, only his opinion. He does not speak for 16 million Baptists.

-- Norman Taylor

Silent in the Court

Courtland Milloy's Jan. 27 adventure in column-writing left me with more than the normal bewilderment his words inspire ["On Race Issues, Justices Looking the Other Way," Metro]. He finds something horribly sinister in the fact that during oral arguments in a case allegedly involving some aspect of racial divide, Justice Clarence Thomas "hadn't bothered to say a word." If Milloy had any familiarity with the Supreme Court, he would have known that Thomas is renowned for not speaking during argument.

-- George Vary

Error Alert

In the Jan. 23 front-page article "Bush Warns Iraqi Troops and Leaders," President Bush is correctly quoted as saying that any Iraqi officer or soldier who follows orders from Saddam Hussein "will be treated, tried and persecuted as a war criminal."

Whether the president's use of "persecuted" instead of "prosecuted" is a result of ignorance or a Freudian slip, the writer or his editors should have indicated the erroneous word use with "sic."

-- Ted Hochstadt

Incoming PR

Concerning the unidentified source who provided your paper with a "puff piece" about the president, Matthew Freeman ["No Names in the News," Free for All, Jan. 25] has a new complaint: "Flak," from the German Fliegerabwehrkanone, means antiaircraft fire, or, metaphorically, severe hostile criticism. Freeman obviously meant to write "flack," which means press agent.

-- Mary Ann Harrell

Funny Valentine

So, in January's story line, the husband roughs up his wife and then shoots her pet deer because he loves her so much. Then she begs his forgiveness for having made a pet of the deer.

"Mark Trail," a comic strip for nature lovers and wife abusers.

-- Nando Amabile

As Old as Beverly Hills?

"The dichotomy between art and commerce is as old as Hollywood," David Ignatius intones ["Hollywood Blues," op-ed, Jan. 24]. Wow! As old as that?

Aristophanes would've gotten a chuckle.

-- Dan McCann