Letters to the editor

Benton's outstanding service

As Sheriff of St. Lucie County, I want the citizens of Highlands County to know how fortunate they are to have Susan Benton as sheriff. In the early morning hours of Nov. 20, I received the call that no sheriff wants to receive - one of my deputies was shot.

On that day, one of my deputies, Detective Paul Pearson, was shot in Sebring while serving warrants as part of a U.S. Marshals Task Force. A Deputy U.S. Marshal also was shot. Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton immediately took action. She called me from the hospital after checking on my deputy and gave me a complete description of what happened, my deputy's condition and what medical treatment was prescribed. She reached out to a surgeon, whom she personally knew. He performed surgery on both injured officers. She stayed with them until their medical treatment took place and stayed most of the day with us.

She conducted a news conference to inform the public of what had happened in their community and invited me and other law enforcement leaders to accompany her so we could answer questions about our roles in the operation and the condition of our deputies. She called both injured officers throughout the next weekend to check on their condition and make sure they had everything they needed.

In a day that could have been characterized as hectic and chaotic, Sheriff Benton truly rose to the occasion and provided compassionate, decisive and skilled leadership throughout the day and for several days afterward. I was able to benefit from her wisdom and leadership firsthand. In a crisis such as this, a special kind of leadership was called for. I am happy to say that Sheriff Benton answered the call. We all were fortunate that we can benefit from Sheriff Benton's leadership.

On behalf of myself and the 620 professionals of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, I want to extend my gratitude to Sheriff Benton and her entire staff for a job superbly done.

Ken J. Mascara

Sheriff of St. Lucie County

Fort Pierce


I truly resent Bud Morgan's guest column Nov. 16. He became the same ugly name-caller he accused others of being.

Right on, John Booth. You said it all in your rebuttal Nov. 18. However, let me add a footnote: Sorry, Bud. It's tough feeling like the underdog. Let me paraphrase what my daughter says to her children: Get over it!

God bless our freedom.

Sylvia Schmitt

Avon Park

Double agents

While Karzai demands limitations and guarantees with respect to the continued presence of U.S. forces beyond 2014 and Senator Ayotte seeks to legislate amendments to Defense Department legislation concerning cultural changes in Afghanistan, one wonders if anyone remembers why we went there in the first place. Our original incursion into Afghanistan was not in furtherance of modifying the culture of the country beyond our desire to override their protection of Al Qaida as an honored guest and punish them for their transgressions against our interests in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Concerns with the more barbaric (and ancient) part of their culture soon morphed U.S. policy into concerns for supporting Karzai's regime, rebuilding the infrastructure of the country, schools, hospitals, voting policy and etcetera, the whole panoply of regime changes and modification that has led us into difficulties worldwide.

Meanwhile DOD proposes to convert internees at Gitmo into double agents. Apparently, we have forgotten the absurd Chieu Hoi program in Vietnam, now rewritten as a big tactical success. Those who served with these "reconstituted" allies learned to sleep with one eye open. Surely a few years in Gitmo is guaranteed to win the prisoners over to our point of view and convert them to double agents on their return to the Middle East.

Randy Ludacer

Lake Placid