Once again the federal government gives politically powerful people shockingly better treatment than the average citizen (“Petraeus reaches plea deal with Justice,” March 4). Retired Gen. David Petraeus now admits that he gave highly classified information (including the identities of covert operatives and war strategies) to his paramour, Paula Broadwell, while he was the director of the CIA and that he lied to the FBI about it during the investigation. Such felony crimes would send the average American to prison for years — you get six months in jail for simply lying to an FBI agent — but the Justice Department is giving Petraeus a misdemeanor, two years’ probation and a $40,000 fine. (I’ll bet Julian Assange and Edward Snowden wish they had such good deals waiting for them.) And he’s still allowed to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year (his net worth is already in the millions) on speaking fees, advisory work and as a partner in a private-equity firm. Boy oh boy, post-government work pays very well for some folks.
This preferential treatment is unjust and corrodes the faith we all have in our federal justice system. However, nothing will change until we have a federal system that is more concerned about fairness and the law than it is about power and cronyism.
Joe Tamburino, Minneapolis
Once again, workers will take the blow
I challenge Target CEO Brian Cornell to find a better way to save money than by slashing several thousand jobs at the company’s Minneapolis headquarters (“Target reboot has steep job cost,” March 4). Too often in corporate America today, executives boost the bottom line by eliminating the livelihoods of productive workers, through layoffs, outsourcing and/or “offshoring.” These job losses have a ripple effect throughout the economy, since those who lose their jobs seldom find new work at comparable pay and have less to spend on goods and services. Why should these people and their families (and other businesses) suffer while those at the top who caused the failures get their golden parachutes or other positions? I am tired of seeing good workers fired because of the ineptitude of corporate leaders.
I have always been a loyal Target customer, but feel strongly enough about this that I will cease shopping there if these job cuts go through.
Joseph Humsey, Woodbury
• • •
Perhaps Target could offer some of those people at headquarters a job as a cashier. I shop at Target weekly, and only two or three of the many checkout lanes are ever open.
David M. Blank, Fridley
The many angles we didn’t hear
So what’s next for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahyu? Will he be stumping across the country, speaking on behalf of our Republican presidential hopefuls and against President Obama’s “bad deal” nuclear policies? Perhaps he should extend our president the opportunity to make his point of view known before the Knesset. I’m not against the prime minister’s right to state his case, but a more appropriate venue for the kind of speech he presented this week would have been the United Nations, not the halls of the U.S. Congress.
Bill Herring, Minnetonka
• • •
Netanyahu warned Congress of Iran’s “march of conquest, subjugation and terror.” The prime minister must not be aware that Iran is providing substantial aid to Iraq’s government in its effort to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant — the world’s terror poster child. As to a “march of conquest,” the last major Iranian effort at conquest was in 479 B.C., when Xerxes led Persian forces against Greece. Greece crushed that effort at Salamis and Plataea.
Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors, and we can understand Netanyahu’s concerns. But Israel is bristling with nuclear weapons with the capability to return the country of Iran to the Stone Age, and Iran knows it. Iran has a commercial nuclear reactor, and it wants more reactors, along with the ability to produce nuclear fuel. An agreement with effective inspection can limit its enrichment capability.
Rolf E. Westgard, St. Paul
• • •
Listening to Netanyahu’s demands that Iran be perfect in the eyes of Israel for some period of time (maybe a century would be enough) before we do any deals reminded me of another talk I have heard recently — a hard-right congressman talking about how we must secure the border perfectly (I assume including every airport and harbor as well) before we do any immigration reform.
The parallels were a little spooky. Both statements were aimed at a position of doing absolutely nothing. Whether you are trying to change your spouse, your company or a foreign country, demanding that the other party do 100 percent of the changing first is unlikely to lead to any success.
Michael Emerson, Eden Prairie
• • •
It is unfortunate that the objections to the Republican invitation to Netanyahu’s speech have focused on a breach of diplomatic etiquette and the fact that an election campaign is underway in Israel. We should really be more concerned that the obvious purpose of the invitation was to obtain advance support for a plan to oppose a negotiated agreement with Iran regardless of its merits. The relationship between the United States and Iran has been largely emotional since 1953, when the CIA ousted Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s secular, democratically elected, anti-communist leader and restored Shah Pahlavi and his torture-happy secret police. All of that is too complicated to explore here. But we should remember that Iran refused to use chemical weapons in its defense of the invasion by Iraq, even though Iraq had used them, because former Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had said they were un-Islamic. And we should remember that current Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic. The claim that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons is not supported by evidence and is a manufactured crisis. See the book by that title by investigative reporter Gareth Porter.
Edward J. Schwartzbauer, Edina
A shared approach to implementation
Recent letters about the gradual implementation of alternative energy sources bear consideration. Community solar gardens (larger arrays of solar panels in neighborhoods) are a development worth watching and supporting. Not everybody has the means to cover their roof with panels, and many feel inclined to buy an initially small share of a larger array that can supplement their demand for traditionally generated electricity and reduce pollution.
Fossil-fuel companies are finding reason to invest in a growing market for alternatives. It provides a hedge against falling profits for fossil fuels and a way for established companies to continue growing.
Paul Hoffinger, Eagan