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Letter: In defense of the NSA leaker

Edward Snowden may have broken laws by revealing secret federal data-gathering, but the government broke people's trust ["What to do with Snowden," Editorial, Jan. 12].

Snowden revealed something that's been happening for a long time. The government betrayed our trust, and without Snowden's audacity, President Barack Obama -- who now cannot be trusted -- and the government would still be spying.

Should Snowden be punished? He's been punished enough and is still being punished. He's in exile from his home, his family and friends. He knew what would happen and still decided to go forward for Americans' sake.

What to do with Snowden? Leave him alone, that's what.

Philip Boccia, New Hyde Park

Those who call Edward Snowden a traitor would also consider our Founding Fathers traitors. They renounced their British citizenship in the name of liberty, risking their lives and fortunes.

Benjamin Franklin was quoted saying that sacrificing your liberty for temporary security would eventually lead to the loss of both.

There is no mention in this editorial about James Clapper, director of National Intelligence. Clapper lied before Congress, denying the effort to monitor Americans' phone calls.

The last time I checked, lying under oath was a serious crime. What is the point of having agencies testify to congressional committees if they are allowed to lie with impunity? Is it all for theater?

Robert Dirmeir Jr., Baldwin

Edward Snowden's revelations, and the subsequent government reactions, might lead us to mute our own response to the monstrosity that government-sponsored surveillance has become.

The National Security Agency reportedly employs more than 30,000 people and has an annual budget of more than $10 billion. This beast has lost all sense of proportion. If we did some rigorous thinking about this and considered reactions from abroad, we might begin to regain some ethical objectivity on the issue.

Snowden has shown us inside the castle walls, and there is a warped reality reigning there. It has grown unchecked and will continue to ensnare all of us in its paranoia if we don't dismantle it.

James Deegan, Wading River

Tree trimming program is welcome

I am pleased to see a utility exercising a little common sense ["PSEG: More trimming," News, Jan. 7].

I have lived in a heavily treed area in Huntington for 22 years, and I have lost count how many times my neighbors and I have lost power due to fallen trees and tree limbs, overgrown brush and the like.

Once I watched an ivy-covered tree come in contact with an electrical line and catch fire; the tree burned for hours and melted the electrical lines. The Long Island Power Authority finally came in to cut the tree down to four feet below the line. It took 12 men more than two hours before the power could be restored.

Time and again, I have called LIPA to trim the trees. It claimed that my neighbor, on whose property the vines continued, would have to call it in. What a waste of time and resources! I always thought that the utility companies had an unfettered right of way over property so that they could do exactly the kind of preventive work I am describing.

Wendi Stranieri, Huntington

Transition instead to Common Core plan

Kudos to State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) for publicly taking a position on the poor implementation of the new Common Core standards by our state education leadership ["Common Core delay advised," News, Jan. 8].

I am one of the 60 school superintendents in Suffolk County who proudly provided input and signed the letter referenced in the story. We again tried, after numerous previous attempts, to provide our state education leaders with sound advice for fixing the mess related to the Common Core, state assessments and teacher and principal performance evaluations. The letters asked the state to slow implementation of exams tied to the new academic standards, using this year and next as transition years.

For the past three years, this advice coming from the collective wisdom and experience of a great many respected public educators from across the state, has fallen on the deaf ears of our well-intentioned Education commissioner, John B. King Jr., and others in charge in Albany. As intelligent as these people are, they can't seem to bring themselves to admit their implementation mistakes. Instead, they have continued to ignore reasonable voices and to plow forward.

Now that state lawmakers in leadership positions from both sides of the aisle have spoken, along with parents across the state, perhaps we'll see some welcome adjustments that will help reduce the heated rhetoric and allow us to focus at the local level on the true needs of students.

Charles A. Leunig, Wading River

Editor's note: The writer is the superintendent of Copiague schools.