Once more, I listened to the cliche-ridden, tired rhetoric of President Bush as he presented Tuesday night's version of his administration's reasons for going to war in Iraq. By referring to the Sept. 11 attacks when he spoke about Iraq, he was again linking these two entities in the minds of the American public, despite established evidence to the contrary. He offered nothing of substance to an audience that could only be lulled further into numbness by his repeated extolments regarding liberty and freedom.

The public needs to hear the truth about Iraq. We see, via the media, the carnage from the recent upsurge of suicide bombings, and we hear about the numbers of dead, the American dead, and, far more numerous, the Iraqi dead. How can we square this information with the empty tone and content of the president's speech?

MARIE PAVLICEK-WEHRLI

Silver Spring

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Thank God we have a president who has the understanding and courage to act on his responsibility -- not just on what polls say. The killers won't let up, and neither should we. The only choice is to stay the course.

As we celebrate Independence Day, those who disagree have the chance to return to the roots of what this nation stands for and join the Iraqi people in celebrating their own independence.

BECKY LIDDELL LANNON

Tallahassee

Before President Bush spoke Tuesday night, the administration declared that he would mobilize Americans in support of his cause and present a clear strategy for victory in Iraq.

The lackluster speech Mr. Bush gave achieved neither goal. By merely reiterating the purposes for the war and restating the already failing strategy, he missed his target. He also once again erroneously linked the war in Iraq to the events of Sept. 11, and his statement that "Among the terrorists, there is no debate" that "Iraq is a central front in the war on terror" doesn't reflect the fact that this situation didn't exist before the invasion.

JENNIFER LEWIS

Columbia