Anti-Academy Agenda

Richard Cohen's June 9 op-ed column, "Flying Over the Line," is more about his liberal agenda than the truth. His premise that "religion is not kept in its place" at the Air Force Academy is bogus. According to academy officials, there have been 55 complaints about religion over the past four years at the academy, one-third from the same people and only one this year. All but three complaints were about insensitive remarks. Cohen is overreaching.

Lt. Gen. John Rosa, the academy's superintendent, acknowledges a problem, but it isn't "systemic or pervasive," as argued by Capt. Melinda Morton, an Air Force chaplain. Every so-called infraction that Cohen asserts was quickly and appropriately resolved.

-- Robert L. Maginnis


What About Israel?

The Post's June 14 editorial "A Loss of Momentum" lamented slow progress toward freedom in the Middle East, with detailed criticism of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. Yet there was no mention of Israel, despite its occupation of the Palestinian territories. A report in The Post on June 9 said that Israeli settlement activity in the first quarter of 2005 has almost doubled compared with the same period in 2004. In January The Post reported a 9 percent increase in Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip in 2004, every one illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

-- Walter S. Friauf


Survivor Song

Where did Tom Shales get the idea that the theme song of HBO's comedy series "The Comeback" is "a parody of all those other assertive anthems about being a survivor who's going to make it" [Style, June 5]. Far from parody, the song is one of those very anthems: "Survivor," the Destiny's Child hit single and title track from their multiplatinum 2001 CD.

-- Ken Norkin

Takoma Park

Mission Unmistakable

I was disappointed to read the June 10 front-page story "Building Iraq's Army: Mission Improbable." It was a distortion of how we are training Iraqi army soldiers. I have been training such soldiers for five months, and we have defeated the insurgency on Haifa Street. We have started training a new battalion, and its soldiers are successful. We have none of the problems The Post's reporters outlined.

I invite you to send a reporter to visit me in Baghdad. I am confident that he or she will get a completely different picture.

-- Edward Ballanco


The writer is a captain in the Army's 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, at Camp Independence in Baghdad.

Hubris on Hybrids

Warren Brown's June 19 "On Wheels" column took a shot at the Toyota Highlander hybrid but missed the mark.

Brown admits that the cost savings of the hybrid pay off in just over five years -- the car-buying period for most Americans. He admits that the smallest federal tax incentive of $500, which he lists, actually makes the hybrid option cheaper. And he admits that the hybrid's performance is identical -- in some ways better than the guzzler. Yet he picks the latter. Why? "I like hearing the engine kick over the second I turn the ignition key." He also argued that the only reason to be fuel efficient is "ultimately to save money." There are two other good reasons: global warming and national security.

First, Brown argues that "a fractional reduction of an already minimal output of tailpipe emissions doesn't cut it." The United States could cut automobile greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in 10 years if all new cars were hybrids. Second, he doesn't consider that if the costs are essentially the same, the dollars spent on the hybrid are shifted from oil producers (such as Saudi Arabia, homeland of Osama bin Laden) to energy-saving technologists (in this case, our democratic ally Japan, or even U.S.-based Ford, which makes the hybrid Escape).

-- William Antholis


The writer is director of strategic planning at the Brookings Institution.