Calling the release of the so-called Nunes memo a legitimate exercise of the congressional oversight and not an attack on the FBI, the Department of Justice or the Mueller investigation, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was immediately belied by the president's own comments, citing those very reasons for the memo's release ("Hotly disputed Russia-probe memo released over FBI protest," StarTribune.com, Feb. 2). To any reasonable person, President Donald Trump's open and ongoing attack on the integrity of the people tasked to investigate him is reason enough to suspect obstruction of justice. Instead, Speaker Ryan ignores his own responsibilities as a constitutional check on the president in favor of a lame lecture on the "normal" bureaucratic functions of a House committee.
Face facts: This is not "normal." The people of his Wisconsin district have elected a pencil-pusher when we are desperate for moral leadership in support the Constitution. Paul Ryan is in way over his head. Sad!
Mark Rosenwinkel, Minneapolis
• • •
I am probably showing my age, but I feel we are reliving Watergate. Are Trump and his campaign guilty of a crime? I do not know the answer to that question, but when your defense is to attack the investigators it sure reminds me of "Tricky Dick" and his crew.
Jim Weygand, Carver
• • •
I read the U.S. House memo and have listened to the TV commentators. My questions are: How extensively did the FISA court judges question the warrant applicants, and did the federal judges bring in their own biases? I understand one judge was from the Ninth Circuit, which has had its share of bias in its decisions. I bring up this issue as a prosecutor for more than 30 years.
Roger Swenson, Delano
Bureau needs a new director — and not another public servant
Due to its perennial operations ambiguity and the management debacles of recent years, there are those of us who were prompted to do some reading up on the FBI.
• J. Edgar Hoover inculcated the FBI culture of unauthorized searches, surveillance and investigations.
• Its organization is one of decentralization and independence.
• Its outdated operations mode and information system survived as a consequence of our dysfunctional Congress.
Think about how the boards of major Minnesota corporations (such as Target, Best Buy, 3M and Medtronic) wisely brought in new CEO blood and thereby authorized distinguished executives to reset their organizations' strategic paths.
Congress is not the FBI board of directors. The FBI desperately needs a turnaround manager — not a career public servant, but one who has competitively excelled in the real world of stakeholder accountability.
America's "chairman of the board" must appoint an FBI director for our time.
Gene Delaune, New Brighton
• • •
Dear FBI Director Christopher Wray:
I would like to make a request of you today. It had been reported that you might resign as director when a certain FBI intelligence memo of parsed classified material regarding the Russian collusion investigation was revealed to the public.
I would like to ask you not to do that.
Just Friday, we found out (through Russian sources) that your counterpart at the CIA has met with Russian intelligence officials on U.S. soil, one of whom was sanctioned and under penalty of arrest if he were to appear on American soil. Somehow, the State Department allowed him in. (I assume that they didn't inform you.) It was said this was simply coordination of intelligence-gathering techniques, but the coincidence of the president not adding sanctions against Russia, sanctions the Congress voted overwhelmingly to add just months ago, and this meeting seem just too close to just dismiss as mere coincidence.
It is apparent by your statement about the grave concerns you have over releasing this information that you hold country concerns over party demands and that you want to protect the country above all else. I ask you to keep doing that. I fear that for you to walk away from protecting the country at this very moment would lead to more confusion and less safety than we have faced for quite some time.
We need people in positions like yours to speak truth to power (as you have recently done), but for a lasting effect it would be best for you to stay. To walk away from it now, I feel, would send the wrong signal to Americans dealing with the confusion we are embroiled in today.
For this reason, I ask you to stay.
Nelson Williams, Minneapolis
THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
The insensibility of plea deals makes a person shake his head
Two crime reports covered on the same page recently (B5, Jan. 26) have me questioning whether there is any sense or justice in our criminal justice system. First, a 20-year-old man pleaded guilty to assault in a well-publicized 2017 stabbing at the Mall of America. He had previously stabbed two staff members at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. His sentence is to be around 16 years in prison, where he is very unlikely to get proper treatment for his mental illness. When he is in his early 30s, he will be released on the public, probably unemployable, sicker and more dangerous.
Second, a 25-year-old man pleaded guilty to being drunk, high on methamphetamine and operating a motorcycle, from which his inebriated girlfriend fell and died (also Page B5, Jan. 26). This guy callously dragged her body to the side of the road and roared off. The next day he tried to dispose of the bike in a lake, belying any notion that he simply panicked. His plea deal nets him 180 days in jail, less time served. 180 days for a life!
There is something seriously wrong with our justice system.
Mark Gortze, Maple Grove
WAR AND PEACE
A 'strong America' is the 'best guarantor.' So they say.
Not without good reason did pride get its place as a deadly sin. Thus we read on the Jan. 29 Opinion Exchange page ("Global war: it's closer than you think") "The best guarantor of world peace is a strong America." What evidence are we offered for this remarkable claim from the Economist?
Combining the opening observation that "in the past 25 years, war has claimed too many lives" (one wonders how many would be just right) with the concluding reminder that in recent time America has "still by far the world's most powerful armed forces," might the evidence not point the other way?
Truly it is more comforting to picture one's own country as the best guarantor of world peace than as a warmonger, but can we already have forgotten raining on Baghdad not terror, which we unshakably oppose, but the entirely different phenomenon "shock and awe," in order to free the world of nonexistent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction?
And we are told the point of remembering America's unique virtue is this policy implication: "America needs to invest in new systems based on robotics, artificial intelligence, big data and directed-energy weapons." Arms racing without end, the surest path to lasting peace.
Let us weigh not the evidence of the last 25 years, but the last 2,500 years, to decide whether we believe that.
Chuck Baynton, Roseville