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Letters to the Editor: May 6, 2013

May. 5, 2013 - 12:17PM   |  
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Regarding Justice hiring

The April 29 story “Budget cuts squelch hiring” may have given readers the wrong impression of the Justice Department’s staffing situation.

The numbers in the “More hires” table indicated that we hired 6,305 people in 2012, more than were hired in 2011. The disconnect is that the table shows only hires — not retirements, resignations and other attrition. The story makes it seem like the Justice Department is growing when, in fact, it has been shrinking.

If the table had factored in staff departures, which provides a more accurate view of agency staffing situations, your table would have shown a net loss for the Justice Department of 356 positions in 2012. In fact, since January 2011, the Justice Department has suffered a loss of approximately 2,300 once-filled positions.

Lee Lofthus, chief financial officer, Justice Department

Washington

The next Boston

The next 9/11, the next Boston, will likely be CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, high-yield explosives). It could be weapons-grade chemicals taken from failed states such as Iraq or Syria. It could be biological weapons taken from the former Soviet Union program that employed 50,000 people and produced tons of weaponized small pox as late as the 1990s. It could be a few tactical nuclear weapons exploded in major American cities, lost or stolen form the Soviets. It could be radiological material spread by high-yield explosives at major ports of entry, thus disrupting trade to an economy-destroying extent.

The Defense Department is charged with protecting U.S. citizens. It is its job to prepare for this inevitability. Civil support teams and local first responders will not be able to handle the aftermath of the use of weapons of mass destruction within our borders. The time to train soldiers to operate within our borders to detect, mitigate and remediate the damage caused by CBRNE is now, not as this crisis unfolds.

The war is already here, within our borders. The enemy is improvising its tactics now, within our borders. The time to plan for defending against a WMD attack by this enemy is now.

Let us not wait until it is too late to start fighting the war we are in. Let us stop pretending that America is safer because of the two wars we created. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars only enhanced the clash of civilizations, further radicalized extremist Muslims and helped create a new generation of warriors.

I pray that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel understands this.

Robert Eckert

Fort Wainwright, Alaska

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