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Letter: On war crimes, respect the code of military justice

President Donald Trump delivers a statement in the

President Donald Trump delivers a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 22, 2019, in Washington. Credit: AP/Evan Vucci

It’s reported that our commander in chief is considering pardoning former members of the military accused or convicted of war crimes [“Don’t pardon war criminals,” Editorial, May 22].

Pardons could serve to undermine the Uniform Code of Military Justice and good order and discipline in military units. As an infantry officer in combat in Vietnam, I found that one of the biggest challenges was managing the violence of war and suppressing instincts for revenge and unlawful acts. Existing military policy and procedure should be adhered to, not command influence from above, even from the White House.

Alan G. Vitters,


Editor’s note: The writer served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1992, retiring as a colonel.

Your editorial decried the consideration of pardons for U.S. servicemen who committed atrocities in war zones. But the fault lies with the leaders, not the grunts sent to do the dirty work who are expected to exhibit high-class table manners among a bunch of people who are out to kill them.

Remember, young soldiers are sent to get killed in foxholes by elders who die in their warm beds at home.

Leonard Marino,


Editor’s note: The writer served in the Army infantry in 1950s.

Skeptical of school district’s motives

On my way home from work Tuesday evening, I stopped at the Santapogue Elementary School to cast my vote in the West Babylon school district election [“LI school budgets get support,” News, May 22]. At the same time, the school staged a student art show starting at 6 p.m.

I believe this was done to ensure that while the parents attended the art show, they would also vote for the school budget. I think it is inappropriate to use students this way to make sure the budget passes.

Chris Gallagher,

  West Babylon

Graffiti shouldn’t be celebrated

How disappointing it was to read the “Painting the town” story about an art exhibit of graffiti coming in June to Williamsburg, Brooklyn [News, May 21]. Graffiti is still a misdemeanor crime. What has become of us as a society when we celebrate crimes?

Graffiti was the scourge of New York City and the transportation system for many years. Graffiti highlights the blight of neighborhoods.

I rode the New York subway system for years starting in the 1980s and was appalled then at the disgraceful defacing of subway cars. This article seems to give license to anyone who wants to go out and deface the property of others, including buildings, subways, buses and anything else that can be used as a canvas.

Jim Witkowski,


Your photo from 1981 showed a subway car covered in graffiti inside and out.

Beautiful, moving street art.

I’m kidding! Look again at the photo; the windows are painted over as well!

While riding in those subway cars, one felt like an animal in a cage, but we could not look out.

Saul J. Rothenberg,

  Rochdale Village

U.S. cannot back down from threats

I believe that war with Iran in the near future is unlikely [“Danger of Iran saber-rattling,” Editorial, May 20]. America doesn’t want it, and I think the believers in jihad who seek an Islamist caliphate have some leaders who understand that a conflict fought with modern weapons will lead to their destruction.

For 40 years, Iran often has exported terrorism without being called to account. Millions died after Adolf Hitler’s enemies failed to stand against him when his military was weak. The weakness of the West allowed Josef Stalin, leader of a devastated Soviet Union, to threaten the world with nuclear war. Daring American leaders were bold and tough enough to bring an end to Soviet threats not with war, but through economics.

President Donald Trump ended U.S. participation in the awful 2015 Iran deal with Western nations. He warned Iran’s leaders that if they attack, our forces in the region will unleash “the official end of Iran.”

World War II should be a lesson to our democracy that, though war is hell, we must never permit the threat of attack by brutal enemies to cause us to turn our backs in surrender.

Bernard A. Bilawsky,

  North Massapequa

Key to immigration is legal entry to U.S.

Our nation was built by immigrants who came here legally. They learned the English language and were proud to do so, worked hard by bringing their trades with them or by learning one to support their families. They had pride in what they did and learned.

The current influx of immigrants who are here illegally and the acceptance of them insult and dishonor those who came legally. I agree with the writer of the May 22 letter “Wary of Trump immigration proposal” that parents of immigrants should be allowed in to keep the family structure, but only if done legally.

Karen Byrnes,