In this era when government spending must be checked, it makes no sense to prosecute whistle-blowers [“Leaks and the Law”] who expose incompetent, wasteful and irresponsible behavior.
John N. Bilderbeck
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Secrets and Security
there is a great difference between blowing a whistle on pigheaded mismanagement, malfeasance or illegality and the willful divulging of secrets that could benefit America’s enemies. The “Leaks and the Law” article does not seem to pay enough attention to that distinction. On the question of the “public’s right to know,” no such right could ever be absolute in the face of the government’s valid countervailing interests in protecting the security of this nation.
Garland L. Thompson
I love Smithsonian magazine and read it cover to cover, but “Leaks and the Law,” by David Wise, was way out of place. I want to read something interesting about history, archaeology, nature or astronomy, which are the areas the magazine usually covers. This story was about a legal debate and national security. Leave it for the newspapers.
Gary J. Banuk
I have a clear recollection of the deeds of Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket scientist who worked at NASA after World War II [“Wernher von Braun’s Launch”]. One of his V-2 rockets fell in a field near my home in Kent, England, during the war. Luckily, we suffered the loss of only the roof and windows. I was appalled at the hero-worship this monster was later afforded after his appointment at NASA. I am reminded of an old joke: Who won the war—the American Nazi scientists or the Russian Nazi scientists?
Patricia Turnbull Felmar
New York, New York
I have always found Wernher von Braun’s link to NASA via the V-2 weapon unsettling, along with the lack of full disclosure at some exhibition sites about his role as a Nazi scientist. The fact that “more people died building the V-2 rockets than were killed by them,” according to National Air and Space Museum curator Michael Neufeld, should not be taken lightly. This article makes clear that concentration camp prisoners were used to build the V-2 factory and assemble the rockets, and “at least 10,000 died from illness, beatings or starvation.” Even though such revelations heighten my discomfort over the prov-enance of the space program, at least they no longer allow us to ignore unpleasant facts of history.
St. Louis, Missouri
I concur with Judith Martin’s declaration [“Q&A: Miss Manners”] that blatant greed is a major problem in our society today. I must, however, disagree with her assertion that asking guests to bring a dish to a party is an example of this greed. It’s called potluck, and it’s an American tradition. The notion that only those who are wealthy enough to feed a large group of people can host a gathering isn’t good manners; it’s just elitist. BYOB!
Glass or Plastic?
Hats off to brewmasters Sam Calagione and Patrick McGovern [“Dig, Drink and Be Merry”] for their efforts in producing world-class beer. But the photo on page 42 threw me for a loop. What a faux pas—serving wonderful suds in plastic cups! Glass only, sirs, please. From now on glass only. But keep on digging, brewing and pouring.
C. Joe Stefanowicz
Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania
“Dig, Drink and be Merry” is a very one-sided article about our relationship with intoxicating drink. You overlooked the immense wake of destruction and heartache alcohol has unleashed on humanity. Would you be willing to publish the same historical article about our relationship with tobacco or cocaine?