The Oct. 19 Style article on Bunny Greenhouse ["A Web of Truth"] was, with due respect to Yogi Berra, like deja vu all over again.

Ms. Greenhouse was one of my students at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1995 and 1996. She was one of two women -- both federal civil servants, both black -- in a seminar of predominantly white male military officers. Ms. Greenhouse's candor and conviction, regularly in evidence, came up against the dismissive intolerance of two or three officers in the class.

Tongue firmly in cheek, the group's yearbook entry read: "Seminar discussions were orderly and seldom raised blood pressures to a critical level."

In fact, the group barely avoided self-destruction.

Ms. Greenhouse came to me on at least two occasions to express her concern about the combustible chemistry of the group and the ill-disguised disdain of the aforementioned officers toward her. I told her she had three things working against her: she was a woman, a civilian and black.

She could, I cautioned, censor herself, or she could stand her ground and keep saying what those destined for higher rank needed to hear.

She wisely chose the latter course, even though tensions continued to mount. Her character was clearly in evidence then, and it is even more so now when the stakes are higher. I trust that she will, characteristically, continue to fight the good fight and give renewed meaning to the highest ideals of public service.



The writer is a professor at National Defense University in Washington.