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Capt. R. Clarke Cooper’s opinion piece in the Dec. 22 edition (“Manning’s defense dishonors gay GIs”) is right on the money. The defense can try to confuse the public with assertions of gender/sexual orientation confusion issues, but this only serves to point to possible motive, not an excuse. The defense can portray a lack of command involvement and a permissive environment in addressing a possible security concern that left a person in a trusted position he should not have been left in, but again, that just shows the individual had opportunity. The failures of command need to be addressed separately, and point to other issues not relevant to this trial.

If Pfc. Bradley Manning did what he is accused of, releasing classified documents to the public domain, he made a conscious decision to break with the position of trust and confidence he was given when granted a security clearance and access to classified information, and he should be held accountable for doing so. Had he released information on a single issue that showed a conscious cover-up of illegal actions or activities that he could not get addressed through command and other reporting channels, one might consider this as an action of conscience. But releasing hundreds or thousands of documents is a conscious decision of willful misconduct to commit a crime.

Howard Leibovitch

Vicenza, Italy

Disclaimer comes into play

To the writer of the Dec. 27 letter “Dell, AAFES should respect the law”: As even my children have learned, you should read the fine print. As you said, contracts are legally binding agreements. When creating an account with any online retailer, you are required to accept certain terms of use, even if you choose to not read them. The disclaimer from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s customer service page reads: “While we strive to continually provide accurate information on this website, typographical or omission errors may occasionally occur in pricing, disclaimers, special offers, product information or images (photographed items may contain slight differences, particularly handcrafted item and gemstone colors). Such errors are subject to correction at any time.” It was also stated in the terms you agreed to.

Sometimes things really are too good to be true. Your argument possibly says more about your own flexible ethics than it does about the evils of Dell, AAFES or corporate America. You were shortchanged on nothing that you were reasonably entitled to.

Brian Seets

Landstuhl, Germany

Still no free lunch

I find the Dec. 27 letter “Dell, AAFES should respect law,” a response to the Dec. 23 article “Computer problem: AAFES shoppers upset when laptop price really is too good to be true,” was not completely correct. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service never advertised $25 laptops. They advertised up to 25 percent off laptops through Dell, which was a hyperlink to the Dell web site. Dell did not realize the mistake until late, so credit cards were charged at the point of sale. Now depending on the bank or credit card company, the money does not actually get credited to the seller right away. It can take up to a week to happen.

Affected accounts will show pending transactions not cleared. Keep this in mind.

By the time the mistake was discovered, the number of buyers was too large. The first thing Dell will do is stop the site from selling, cancel all deliveries, then issue refunds.

Now it’s time for people to be realistic. At no time have I had my card refunded and it show the credit the same day. It can take up to three weeks in some cases. Dell did not accept funds knowing that the laptop was “mis-priced” and it stopped taking orders when the error was discovered. Dell also has a pricing disclaimer. If you were selling an item worth “$100.00” but someone working for you labeled accidently it for “.10,” would you honor that price from 1,000 people knowing you would get crushed financially by it? It is not realistic. So is it to believe that Dell would honor it.

Where do you think the amount of the hit Dell took would come from? Government contracts? Other consumers? The company won’t take a loss like that without a way to make it up. Better to not honor the price than find a way to make up such a loss.

In the end people will still buy Dell after this incident and it will not even dent Dell’s profit margin. What AAFES needs to do is re-evaluate its relationship with Dell. If this type of incident becomes a trend, AAFES should find another computer company.

I found that I had to call to request the order to be canceled through AAFES to speed up my refund, as Dell erased all traces of the transaction but AAFES still had it pending.

Sgt. 1st Class Aaron G. Diggens

Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak, Afghanistan

Seek tolerance, consideration

What happened to tolerance? Just because you are gay or lesbian and I am not doesn’t mean we can’t live and work together in harmony. Just because you cook stinky food doesn’t mean that I can’t experience it for myself and come to a conclusion if I like it or not. Just because you breast-feed in public doesn’t mean I have to watch and stare.

What happened to consideration? Just because you are gay or lesbian and I am not doesn’t give you the right to get in my face about it. Just because you cook stinky food doesn’t give you the right to complain when I burn my toast. Just because you breast-feed in public doesn’t mean you cannot cover discretely.

Just because you can voice your opinion in brash, obnoxious ways doesn’t mean you must. Remember the sun and the wind — use gentle persuasion.

Let’s inhabit this earth in harmony, learning from each other, helping one another, with tolerance and consideration.

Welcome in 2012 with a new perspective — it could change your life.

Constance Hazel

U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, Germany

Photo inappropriate each time

I do not appreciate your choice to run the photo provided by The Virginian-Pilot regarding the first kiss after a ship’s return in your Dec. 23 editions (“Navy’s coveted first kiss shared by women sailors”). While I realize that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” era is officially over, I do not understand why your publication had to run a quarter-page picture of this. I am also further mystified as to why this photo was re-run with the Chicago Tribune editorial on bias in the military (“Despite advances, bias continues in the military,” Dec. 28).

While I am sure that the first kiss and the winner of the lottery from each returning ship is newsworthy to the participants and to the crews on each ship, I do not see your publication running a photo gallery of quarter-page photos of each and every “first kiss” that occurs portside. Since this is supposed to be a newspaper that any family member can read, I am confused as to why you would run this photo not once, but twice.

While I consider myself to be an open-minded and fair person, I do not like having others’ lifestyles waved in my face because it makes good copy. What others do in the privacy of their homes is their business, but dockside is in the public arena. Having said that, I would appreciate it if, in the future, such photos, if they must be run, be cropped to a smaller size and not placed in a prominent place inside your publication.

Carol Troy

Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Closed gates create hazard

Reference your recent articles about the new security guard contract and the gate closures/manning at U.S. Army installations in South Korea: The current situation that we are being forced to accept is also a glimpse at our future.

Per the published schedule of permanent gate hours starting on Jan. 16, many gates that are currently closed on weekends will continue to be closed on weekends and at other times on a permanent basis.

In my case, I live across the street from the U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan MP Station Gate (Gate No. 16) in Samgakji, where there are several large apartment complexes that house many Americans (both military and civilian families).

Our access on and off base during the weekend at this gate is currently unavailable and will continue to be unavailable in 2012. We are forced to enter/depart the base at other gates and must endure frequently congested (and always dangerous) South Korean traffic. What used to be a simple living situation has apparently vanished forever.

The Army constantly preaches safety and security as well as force protection. Where is our safety and security in the event of a crisis or incident on the weekend? Instead of being able to simply cross the street and get on to base, the Americans living in the Samgakji area will be forced to proceed to other gates that are farther away in distance and time. Is this an acceptable risk?

Uncle Sam gets what he pays for. A cheaper contract usually means giving up something, whether it is quality or quantity. With the new contract, we are definitely losing quantity and, at the same time, there goes our quality of life in South Korea.

Larry Acquaviva

Seoul

Questionnaire revictimizes

The Dec. 29 article on the uptick of sexual assaults at the military academies (“Report: Sex crimes up at academies”) reminds me of an ongoing injustice that is perpetrated by the Department of Defense. Currently counseling for sexual assaults has to be reported on the security clearance questionnaire, even though counseling for combat trauma and grief and family issues is excluded from disclosure. The cadets/midshipmen who suffer those assaults will think twice about getting desperately needed mental health services because, as we all know, officers need a Secret or Top Secret clearance. It makes no sense that this policy, which specifically targets crime victims, continues while these men and women suffer in silence.

Sheila Connors

Heidelberg, Germany

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