In the run up to the American presidential elections we will be asking a panel of voters - selected from as wide a cross-section of people as possible across the US - to share their views on the key issues.
MEET THE PANEL
Name: Linda Alston
Lives: Madison, Wisconsin
Works Publications coordinator, currently unemployed
10 words or less: "Intuitive and analytical, often right but not always"
I will be voting against President Bush by voting for John Kerry. At this point in the presidential race, there is nothing that will dissuade me from that position.
Bush realises just how important it is that the American people feel the nation finally is reaching some closure regarding Iraq.
I'm all too afraid that a good number of my countrymen will be persuaded by the handover of power.
Americans are still frightened by the events of 9/11. What happened nearly three years ago pointed out to us just how vulnerable we are and we do not like feeling vulnerable and afraid.
The posturing of the current president and his administration has done wonders in terms of responding to the fear and that sense of vulnerability.
Actually, we are less safe today than we were three years ago because back then we didn't have every radical fundamentalist Islamic group vowing to destroy us.
But the fact that we've fought "successful" wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, from the point of view of those Americans who will vote for Bush, is our way of telling ourselves that we're not afraid.
So I don't feel at all reassured by the handover of power to the Iraqi "government" today.
The Bush administration, as far as I'm concerned, has made a bad situation -which we created by invading a sovereign nation - much worse by enacting this charade.
We can expect more deaths, not just for coalition forces, but also for the Iraqi people.
Civil war - with American military forces caught in the middle - is not an unlikely possibility in the coming months and the idea of "democratic" elections by the end of January of next year is ludicrous to say the least.
The most ironic tragedy is the impact all this will have on the US presidential election.
At this point the contest is too close to call and a lot of things can happen between now and then to affect the election results.
The Bush campaign, however, can only benefit from recent events because there are many Americans still frightened enough to want to believe that the war in Iraq has somehow made their world safer.
You people just don't get it (Americans and non-Americans alike). You carp on about the mishandlings of the Bush Administration and gripe about WMDs and you refuse to confront the alternative. Somehow freedom, stability, and prosperity have become the enemy, while the terrorists are left alone. America cannot and will not cow-tow to fickle Europeans who chronically underestimate their enemies. In this unique conflict against terror, the attitude of "live and let live" is dangerously naive, especially when beheadings are the modus operandi of a desperate group. America simply won't bow to idealistic, morally-indefensible weaklings in this conflict because they will get us all killed. Saddam is out of power. His people are free and getting freer every day. Get over it. Get used to it. And get a life.
Travis Lendl, Dallas, Texas, USA
When President Bush arrived in office, the September 11 attacks had already been conceived and the terrorists were being trained. There were 30,000 terrorists in Afghanistan being indoctrinated to destroy the United States. It is ludicrous and unthinking to say that America is more vulnerable to terrorism now, and I am always amazed at the lack of independent thought when I hear comments like yours.
Tony Heller, Longmont, Colorado, USA
These comments are very insightful and, unfortunately, reflect the true nature of politics in the U.S.
George Claxton, Northampton, MA, USA
I'm afraid I completely disagree with Linda's views on Bush and America. The country is much, much safer because of the policies and decisions the current administration has made. We have better checks on airlines and immigration and our intelligence services are working more closely (and efficiently) than ever before. That's why we should re-elect George W. I know he's got my vote.
Jon Albright, Maine, USA
As for Jon Albright's comments on better checks on airlines and immigration, and more cooperation among departments - much of this responsibility falls to the Office of Homeland Security, whose formation the Republican Party opposed until 9-11. I do not believe that we are safer, and further, I don't think our invasion of Iraq has made that country safer. Instead, due to the arrogance and lack of planning from the Bush Administration, Iraq is now home to a terrorist free-for-all. I will be voting for Kerry.
Sasha, Indiana, USA
Ms Alston takes a very clear-headed approach to the election. However, I do want to comment on her statement that the United States is less safe now that it was three years ago because now "every radical fundamentalist Islamic group" is vowing to destroy us. Radical fundamentalist Islamic groups are always vowing to destroy somebody - if not the United States, then the West in general.
David, Washington DC, USA