Reihan Salam’s June 1 commentary raised an interesting question: Did Prohibition create any benefit other than increasing awareness of alcohol abuse? Absolutely. The 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion is upon us. Let’s accept that Prohibition greatly helped the Allies win that battle — and therefore win the war. Stick with me.

A recent special on public television detailed the history of Higgins boats, the lightweight landing craft developed by entrepreneur Andrew Higgins. His boats allowed small groups of troops to quickly exit onto the beaches during the invasion. Although the soldiers on those boats were vulnerable, overall they were not as vulnerable as they would have been on larger, slower targets. That fact allowed them to eventually succeed on that fateful day, when otherwise they probably would not have.

Before the war, illegal rum-running during Prohibition had motivated Higgins. He played both ends of that trade. He built fast boats for the feds, then built faster boats for the rum-runners. That meant the feds needed even faster boats, so he accommodated them again. In the process, Higgins developed the boat-building skills that allowed him arguably to be the most important contributor of all to the defeat of the Nazis on D-Day.

History is a story, and a thought-provoking, entertaining one at that.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park


No place for weapons in the marketplace

There is absolutely no reason for anyone (outside of law enforcement) to enter a restaurant, bar, shopping mall or any other type of business bearing a loaded weapon (“Target in middle of gun squabble,” June 5). This is neither a war zone nor the Wild West. I, for one, will not shop at Target until it changes its policy on guns so that it is once again a family-friendly place.

Kay Kemper, Crystal

• • •

The picture of a shopper at a Target store in Texas on the front page of the business section looked like any other war zone around the world. Why would any diaper shopper be concerned with a semi-automatic weapon slung over the shoulder of a stranger?

The NRA on its website last week posted that the open-carry laws in Texas were “downright weird” but came to its senses this week and apologized for the statement.

In the military, we never carried loaded weapons unless in a war zone or on the firing range, yet today we must lock and load as civilians while shopping or eating.

Don Kerr, Woodland



Hypocrisy is evident in attacks over release

For several years, conservatives have been blogging, tweeting and petitioning their demands that the president not leave Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan, but now that Bergdahl has been rescued, they are criticizing the president and viciously attacking not only the sergeant but his father.

Aren’t these the same people who were appalled that an American who publicly renounced his citizenship, joined the enemy to fight against American soldiers and made propaganda videos for the enemy urging others to do the same was killed in a drone attack? Apparently, a known traitor actively fighting against U.S. soldiers is held in higher esteem by these people than a soldier being held as a POW.

The 2010 investigation by the Pentagon did not conclude that Bergdahl was a deserter, as some are now calling him. After all, he continued to receive promotions while in captivity. The claim that soldiers died looking for him is not substantiated by the actual combat records. It doesn’t seem reasonable that all deaths that occurred while Berghdal was in captivity should be attributed directly to him.

As the high-ranking officers in every branch of the military have said, no matter the circumstances, no soldier should ever be left behind. First bring him home, then investigate the claims, including hearing from the accused, as our justice system demands. Those convicting Bergdahl in the court of public opinion contradict their claims they support the troops.

Dee Richards, Eagan

• • •

Bergdahl was probably the most disciplined soldier in a unit that was a rotten mess. Read Michael Hastings’ June 2012 Rolling Stone story ( to see the facts.

Hastings’ story shows that, far from being out of the loop, Republicans on Capitol Hill not only knew about the rumors spread by some of the troops in that unit but backed Bergdahl’s release anyway. Not only that, Republicans like John McCain and Kelly Ayotte attacked Obama for not doing enough to free Bergdahl (

Once Obama heeded GOP calls to free Bergdahl, GOP strategist Richard Grenell got a compliant press to spread the stories of his three unit interviewees while hoping none of his media marks ever found out about the whole ugly truth of a unit so messed up that members lost weapons and wore baseball caps on patrol.

Kinda puts a different picture on things, eh?

Tamara Baker, St. Paul

• • •

Three points regarding the June 4 editorial (“Bergdahl critics desert U.S. values”). First, the release violated the law requiring 30 days’ notice to Congress. Second, the five released terrorists are among the worst who had been detained in Guantanamo. Third, the editorial bemoans how critics (Republicans in particular, although many Democrats have expressed dismay at this release) have “politicized” the issue. Excuse me, but didn’t the president just expose the CIA station chief in Afghanistan by mistake, creating a furor? Didn’t Obama just find himself in the hot seat about VA hospitals? Might this release have been timed to take heat off the president?

Jerry L. Nowlin, Minneapolis

• • •

“Six, six and a kick!” That was our vernacular in the Marine Corps for confinement at hard labor for six months, forfeiture of all pay and allowances for six months, and a bad-conduct discharge (BCD). This was the maximum punishment imposed by a special courts martial. In the 1960s and ’70s, BCDs were meted routinely on deserters. A deserter was a Marine with an unauthorized absence for more than 30 days. It was probably an 18-year-old kid, scheduled to go to Vietnam, who “deserted” to his hometown.

Bergdahl should go before his commanding officer for an Article 15 investigation and, if the evidence warrants, should be tried in a special or general courts martial. If what is alleged is proven, the minimum he should receive is “six, six and a kick.”

Gary Nash, Chanhassen

• • •

Please do not refer to Bergdahl as a sergeant who was captured by the Taliban. He was a private, or a private first class at best, when he was captured. He was administratively promoted to sergeant while in captivity. He did not earn his stripes.

Girts Jatnieks, Minneapolis