Politicians need to think beyond their public image

I’m sure you are well aware of how situations such as the Benghazi terrorist attack happen. This becomes especially true in a time when the GOP has done nothing but try to cut government spending. That fact should never affect our security systems, but indeed they do. After 9/11, President George W. Bush embarked on a costly Homeland Security program and anti-terrorist program to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Why is it at that time, our government didn’t seem to care how much money we spent in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East? The presidential elections of 2008 and 2012 have brought a much different perspective from our GOP leaders in Congress. The Tea Party constituents have painted President Obama and the Democratic Party as liberal spenders, not being realistic or frugal about our federal budget. In reality, we all need to become watchdogs when it involves our government and business activities, be it at the federal, state or local level.

In addition, the GOP is trying to put blame on Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE for the horrific slayings in our embassy in Libya. Shame on you to bring politics into this event! When will we show the world that we are the United States of America, and not the political, finger-pointing, divided country they see every day in the news these days? Don’t you believe that this comes across as a signal of weakness? Remember that with social media, our country is under the scrutiny of people worldwide. The comments to Clinton might have been better served in a closed committee, rather than the GOP using this as an opportunity to bring politics, as usual, into an event that already happened. No one, from either party, wanted that to happen. Please become more like statesmen and less like politicians, and think beyond your politically public images!

From Nancy Keenan, Gloucester, Va.

Science panel a forum for open climate debate

A recent feature in The Hill regarding committee chairmanships in the 113th Congress incorrectly characterizes my views on climate change (Jan. 23). Had The Hill contacted me for comment, I would have been happy to explain my position. 

The profile said I “questioned whether climate change is induced by human activity.” I believe climate change is caused to a combination of factors, including natural cycles, sun spots and human activity. But scientists still don’t know for certain how much each of these factors contributes to the overall climate change that the Earth is experiencing. It is the role of the Science Committee to create a forum for discussion so Congress and the American people can hear from experts and draw reasoned conclusions. During this process, we should focus on the facts rather than on a partisan agenda.

Inaccurate statements are not the only problem with the article. If The Hill were trying to be objective, it would have mentioned the America Invents Act, the only major tech legislation to be enacted in the last Congress. The America Invents Act, which I authored with Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle McConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Nielsen acknowledges Trump used 'tough language' in immigration meeting MORE (D-Vt.), updates the U.S. patent system to ensure that better patents are approved more quickly. The new law unleashes American inventors, allowing patent holders to capitalize on their innovations and create products and jobs. 

Reporting means gathering the facts and presenting them in a fair, unbiased way. Unfortunately, in this case, The Hill needed to do more reporting and less speculating. 

From Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Washington, D.C.

Cuts should not come through sequestration

While Congress has taken us to the brink of some major calamities in recent years, it’s always managed to pull back just in time. Hopefully, that history will repeat itself with military sequestration, although it doesn’t seem likely. (“Rank and file tell GOP leaders to keep sequester, shutdown ‘on the table,’ ” Jan. 18.)

Spending should be cut, but sequestration is the worst way we could do it. Military leaders say it would be a catastrophe for our troops. Hundreds of thousands would be furloughed at the Department of Defense. Ironically, the biggest and most expensive military programs would weather the cuts most easily, while smaller programs with less play in the budgetary joints would really feel the pain.

For example, the National Research Center says America’s missiles defenses need improvements to handle newer countermeasures and to shorten response times for a missile coming from Iran. That means adding an East Coast interceptor base to the ground-based midcourse defense system’s current sites in Alaska and California. Missile defense is a small program — less than 1/500th of the military budget — but it has proven highly cost-effective and won broad bipartisan support after a string of successful tests. But the sequester could undermine improvements and expansion the experts say we need. Other programs from cybersecurity to military aircraft are in the same boat.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (R-Ohio) has said he’s got sequestration “in his pocket.” He should keep it there, for all our sakes.

From Ret. Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, former deputy under secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Farmville, Va.