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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

December 2, 2008 at 2:46 PM

Judge Sanders’ outburst

Hero indeed

Danny Westneat is right. Michael Mukasey’s audience was not the Rotary Club [“Saluting a shout-out for justice,” staff columnist, Nov. 30]. It was a meeting of the Federalist Society — very experienced lawyers and judges trained in U.S. law. They each took an oath to protect the Constitution.

Mukasey told his audience that torture, indefinite incarceration, spying on our own citizens, habeas corpus, renditions and all the rest don’t violate the Constitution. Why? Because the administration says. The audience politely listened with their hands folded in their laps.

Justice Richard Sanders was the only one that had the courage to stand up and say what most of the country now knows: This is wrong.

Give him a medal. What was Sanders supposed to do? Write a letter to the organizing committee of the event? He made the speaker feel the sting in the moment for knowingly betraying the Constitution and the oaths he took.

The loser here was Miss Manners. The winner was the Constitution. Without it, Sanders could have easily been arrested and carted off to Guantanamo Bay.

— Gene Bolin, Edmonds

Torture them

So Danny Wesneat thinks that Justice Richard Sanders is “onto something.” Unfortunately, the only thing he is onto is his and Westneat’s misguided opinion of how to deal with terrorists.

Of course these two wouldn’t want to use the word “terrorist,” they prefer militant or extremist. Terrorists deal in terror, that is their weapon of choice. Since they aren’t signatories to the Geneva Conventions and in fact break every part of it, there is no reason why we, the victims of their terror, should be held to its standards when fighting the terrorists.

Suppose there were a terrorist group — sorry, militant group — that wanted to kill anyone with the last name of Westneat or Sanders and had, in fact, murdered many of them in cold blood. Do you think these two self-righteous individuals might be willing to torture a terrorist in order to save members of their own families?

It amazes me that columnists and judges can be so cavalier when the lives of their relatives or friends aren’t on the line. Wake up gentlemen. Terrorists deserve no more compassion than what they show to their victims.

— Frank Lippman, Seattle

Orwell would be proud

Danny Westneat’s Sunday column is a classic example of Orwellian political obfuscation. It is ironic that Westneat, by using the tactic of calling Attorney General Michael Mukaskey’s speech “an Orwellian attempt by the U.S. government to varnish over [a] sorry history” was committing the political sin that George Orwell most strongly condemned: the promiscuous use of a politically inflammatory term to prevent proper debate.

Westneat was trying to not just defend the indefensible conduct of a Supreme Court justice, but to cast it as heroic.

He chose to varnish over the fact that detainees at Guantanamo were armed enemy combatants by calling them “foreigners.”

He misstated the “intense national debate” as merely “what to do about torture. Not whether to continue it …” The politically sophisticated Westneat knows that the debate is just the opposite. There is no generally accepted definition of torture, let alone any settled doctrine on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to armed combatants engaged in acts of insurgency and terrorism directed frequently at the civilian population and unaffiliated with any state or nation or uniformed military force.

I warrant that Westneat is familiar with the Wikipedian description of “Orwellian” as the use of political manipulation of language to obfuscate meaning by eliminating ideas and the meaning of ideas.

A final thought: The shouting of “Tyrant. You are a tyrant” is a pure example of Orwellian obfuscation.

— John O’Harajr, Chelan

Comments | More in courts, Iraq war, Politics


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