May 3, 2013 at 6:33 AM
Plans for shutdown must be definite and lawful
President Obama is correct in his understanding and willingness to end the use of the Guantánamo prison [“Gitmo closure elusive, Obama looks at other steps,” seattletimes.com, May 1]. What is needed now is a definite date.
This means: release dates for the 86 detained persons already cleared for release, court dates in U.S. federal courts for the remaining prisoners if they have been charged at all, and release dates for prisoners, if not lawfully charged.
Legal remedy must become available to families of prisoners. All of these actions must be made definite, not remain as indefinite goals.
If we want civil societies to treat us as we deserve to be treated — nonviolently — then we as a society must provide the best lawful policy and legal remedies to encourage non-vengeful, decent conduct toward us. Anything less than the best lawful policy ironically invites the harms that we deeply want to end.
Laurence Ebersole, area coordinator, Amnesty International, Seattle
April 18, 2013 at 7:35 AM
Take the prisoners out of Guantánamo
What possible good reason can there be for continuing to torture young men [“Detainees confront guards in Gitmo raid,” front page, April 17]? Certainly no moral reason, no strategic reason, no economic reason.
These men who have been imprisoned for 11 years and tortured, declared innocent and still not released, are screaming for justice. Their suffering and possible death by desperation will inspire the terrorists that they are not.
Mary Margaret Pruitt, Seattle
September 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Words of hypocrisy from Bush’s politicizer-in-chief
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is again on the talk circuit –in conservative venues that will have him. This time his message is about how President Obama is “politicizing” things. Most recently, he’s accusing ["Reviewing interrogations 'outrageous,' Cheney says," News, Aug. 31] Obama of politicizing the torture investigation.
Hypocrisy is to be expected in the world of politics, but this example might just beat all others. The George W. Bush nightmare of an administration did everything for the sake of a political angle.
Does Cheney think we’ve forgotten about the firing of the U.S. attorneys? How about the war profiteering of Halliburton and Blackwater? Former Gov. Don Siegelman is in prison because of lies fabricated by Karl Rove.
This week we heard Tom Ridge, Bush’s Homeland Security czar, admit he was told to raise the terror alert status when it would support the Bush agenda. And in case we’ve all gone soft as we try to “move on,” the war in Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11. Does anyone need more examples?
Real Americans should be expressing their outrage that the networks continue to give Cheney and friends credibility by endorsing their desperate act to put a positive spin on the most disastrous and culpable administration this country has ever known.
– David McKenzie, Federal Way
Democratic Party fails to keep politicians accountable
The Democratic Party is dead. It might be walking, but it is effectively dead. It is time for a third party. Sure the Democrats have had ups and downs but the long, slow slide started when we failed to prosecute Richard Nixon for obvious crimes.
We let the oil companies steal from us during the gas shortages. We failed to stand up to the “government is the problem” propaganda of Ronald Reagan. We failed to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. We didn’t prosecute George H.W. Bush and his cronies for crimes committed in Central America. We said nothing when Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1997, which allowed unparalleled consolidation in news media and the spread of anti-public propaganda worthy of Tokyo Rose or Joseph Goebbels.
We allowed the Supreme Court to appoint George W. Bush to a position he was clearly unsuited for and then re-elected him again four years later. We let Bush take away civil rights, violate the Constitution and lie us into two illegal wars.
We allowed the appointment of Supreme Court justices that only serve the mega-corporations and their leaders. And now we are allowing the right wing to kill true health-care reform, change that could transform the lives of millions of Americans for the better, free citizens from dead-end jobs just to maintain health insurance and create a new business climate that would add jobs for millions.
For decades the Democratic Party has failed to stand strong in the face of propaganda, lies and those who have stolen our prosperity. It is time to start a true progressive party, wooing actual liberals from the Democratic Party and wooing true patriots from the Republican Party.
We must start now, with the next election, and never fail to stand up to the bullies who are screaming in our faces as they reach into our pockets.
– John S. Snow, Woodinville
Cheney justifies means by the ends
It’s thrilling to see Dick Cheney speaking out so forcefully in favor of all forms of illegality as long as it serves the cause or to put it another way, the ends justify the means.
Sounds eerily Nazi-like, but at least it’s on the table for his supporters to feast on. Joseph Goebbels would be proud.
– Bruce Barnbaum, Granite Falls
After violating laws, Cheney deserves penalties
Dick Cheney is at it again. He is still criticizing the Obama administration for failing to follow Bush and Cheney policies in the war on terror.
He fails to mention the policies he advocates violate international treaties, the United States Constitution, federal laws and the Military Code. He makes it sound like this is just another political disagreement. It is still vitally important to challenge him in a courtroom.
This country needs to realize there are serious penalties involved in the crimes he should have been charged with long ago.
– Daryl Strandlien, Kenmore
Offended by torture
Dick Cheney says the current administration’s investigations into the Bush administration’s interrogation techniques ” offends the hell out of [him], frankly.”
Well Cheney, your use of torture offends the hell out of me, frankly.
I guess we are even.
– Carol Barber, Kent
June 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Invite Guantánamo detainees here
I have been following the story of the Gitmo Uighurs ["Official: Gitmo Uighurs reluctant to move to Palau," seattletimes.com, Nation & World, June 17]. What an embarrassment for the United States. Is Congress so cowardly that a few loudmouth thugs like Rush Limbaugh can push it around?
According to everyone associated with this issue, the Uighurs pose no security threat, yet the leaders of the free world, the 100 most powerful people on the planet, tremble at the thought of actually welcoming them into our communities.
Now, I can see how a bunch of good-old-boys in Virginia might be terrified of a couple of Guantánamo detainees traveling about freely in their neck of the woods. I can imagine the angst they must feel about maybe having to stand in the same line with them at KFC or Safeway. But the people of Washington state don’t seem to be hiding in their basements in horror of those who are little different.
Why don’t our vaunted senators be real leaders and invite them to settle here? Even with the high unemployment rate, I am sure we can find some meaningful work for them here.
Really, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the released prisoners came to Washington state. In fact, I think we might feel a little pride in doing our share in righting this horrible wrong committed by the Bush administration.
Our senators aren’t doing themselves any favors by cowering with the rest of the Senate.
– Art Valla, Kenmore
June 14, 2009 at 2:46 PM
We’re not so brave after all
Let me get this straight: The tiny island nation of Palau is willing to take multiple soon-to-be-ex detainees from Guantanamo Bay’s detention facility while some of these former terrorist suspects — but really they are not — are already in Bermuda ["6 detainees released to other countries," News, June 12]. Meanwhile, big gun-toting states like Texas are too afraid.
Gee, so much for “home of the brave.” How embarrassing.
– Bert Schulz, Redmond
Support our troops: don’t close Guantánamo
Please support the War Supplemental Bill ["War-funding bill back on track for passage," seattletimes.com, Politics & Government, June 11] to give our troops what they need.
I urge you to take action to keep our troops from being used as political pawns. Our brave soldiers risk their lives every day to protect and advance freedom. They put their country before themselves, and they deserve a government that puts their needs above politics. Any unnecessary delay of their funding dishonors the service and sacrifice of our troops and their families.
Reject putting funds in the War Supplemental Bill that pay for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, and fight the release of the detainee abuse photos.
These are vital issues to our national security and the ability of our troops to accomplish their missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
– Barbara Brazil, Kent
Lack of consequences means torture will continue
In the past year, many organizations and churches in Seattle stood up and opposed the government’s policies and practices of torturing prisoners. There have been street demonstrations and huge banners on the fronts of churches and buildings. What has been done about it? Nothing.
The same thing that was done about illegal wiretaps, lying us into war in Iraq, the stealing of elections by George W. Bush and dozens of other major crimes. Nothing.
So, it appears, nobody will be blamed for the torturing of innocent prisoners — prisoners who were never accused of crimes let alone convicted or sentenced to any punishment. Instead, the media provide a microphone for Dick Cheney to repeat his vicious slander of people around the world, slander that divides us all.
Like war, it seems, torture will continue. And lawlessness itself will continue. What scandal will be on the front page in 2010? Rest assured — nobody will be punished except “the little people.”
– Todd Boyle, Kirkland
May 26, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Congressional support falls victim to fear
During the presidential campaign, John McCain and Barack Obama both vowed they would close Guantánamo. Now, McCain is leading the opposition to closure ["Guantánamo consensus dissolves," News, May 24].
McCain, all the Republicans and most Democrats are now complaining that the prisoners would be a threat if brought into the U.S. They are all falling in line with the macho/fear gospel (a true oxymoron if ever there was one) of former Vice President Dick Cheney and radio loudmouth Rush Limbaugh. With Cheney’s towering unpopularity, you’d expect most members of Congress — certainly the Democrats — to call it what it is: a totally inane opposition move.
But Democrats — even with a filibuster-proof majority — are as clueless as Republicans are destructive. If Democrats had all 100 seats in the Senate, they still couldn’t muster a majority for their president.
I truly feel sorry for President Obama. He has to deal with Congress on a daily basis. It’s like trying to control the inmates in an asylum.
If Congress reflects the will of the people, the only conclusion is that the entire U.S. population is below average. The average congressman is surely below average.
– Bruce Barnbaum, Granite Falls
An ideal place for detainees
There is some concern about President Obama’s decree closing Gitmo by the end of the year. Where are the prisoners to go if no other country will accept them and are they to be released in this country?
Fortunately, there is a large building that is exclusively under federal control, surrounded by a fence and large gardens with complete security and open to constant vigilance. It has all the modern conveniences, such as exercise rooms and libraries. It is fully staffed and under control of a sympathetic owner who lives on premises. I’m sure it would be the ideal location.
The address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.
– James Keefer, San Francisco
May 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Brennan Linsley / The Associated Press
Cheney no authority on serious deliberation
Editor, The Times:
In his most recent frothing-at-the-mouth diatribe, Dick Cheney has accused President Obama’s decision to close Guantánamo Bay as a decision made “with little deliberation and no plan” ["Obama backs Gitmo plan, Cheney defends Bush policy," seattletimes.com, Politics & Government, May 21] Sounds a little bit, but not quite, like the thought and planning he and his buddy W employed before launching their war in Iraq.
The differences would be that there was no deliberation on their part before the war and the limited planning that did take place was focused on ensuring that they could attend at least a few of the inevitable rose-petal parades that would greet us upon arrival in Baghdad.
Recently retired Ambassador Ryan Crocker — Bush’s last ambassador to Iraq — has offered numerous public statements about the lack of introspection on the part of W’s administration before the war, and as-yet-to-be-skewed-by-Cheney history has shown that the plans for the rose-petal parades in Baghdad were not necessary.
Cheney’s post-V.P. time has been spent making increasingly zany comments, but his comments on President Obama’s deliberation and planning on Guantánamo — a PR nightmare created, interestingly, while Cheney was in office — are as ridiculous as it gets given his pathetic track record for serious deliberation and realistic planning while in office.
– Tony Arvish, Seattle
The wrong kind of change
Well done, President Obama. Moving terrorists from the secure facility at Guantánamo Bay to the U.S. mainland, where the ACLU and every Johnny Cochran-type attorney can rush to spring them from prison, will earn you great praise from Democrats.
Welcome, “hope and change” — permanent recession and the return to a pre-911 mindset.
– John W. Nelson, Mercer Island
May 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Nation of laws does not excuse torture
I’m disgusted that we even have to debate the moral and legal efficacy of torture, but apparently, sadly, we do.
In his column “Sometimes you do what you have to do — even torture” [Opinion, May 3], Charles Krauthammer summarizes the tortured moral logic coming out of the torture apologist camp. Basically, the “impermissible evil” of torturing prisoners for information is somehow morally excusable as long the inflicters of extreme pain, fear and discomfort on prisoners can claim one of two scenarios: either the “weapons of mass destruction/ticking time-bomb” plot, or the “I only tortured to saves lives” excuse.
The first scenario is dramatically titillating, but because this drama hasn’t happened and is unlikely to occur outside of a Hollywood TV studio, it’s a throwaway argument.
On the other hand, Krauthammer’s second torturer’s defense sounds likely and even high-minded, but isn’t it exactly the same pretext claimed by subhuman masochists in every authoritarian regime to inflict unspeakable horrors, often upon the innocent as well as the guilty? Every despot rationalizes a fear of some preventable evil, whether real or imagined, to justify his torture chambers. It is the same ends-justify-the means moral relativism that any rogue cop could use to beat a confession out any suspect. Do we let corrupt regimes or police get away with this defense?
Despite Krauthammer’s sophisticated moral calculations, most of us know that torture is an innately immoral act. But let’s not let Krauthammer’s rhetorical exercise obscure for us the cold, hard reality that torture is a crime. It is a crime against humanity, it is a crime according to international law, it is a crime under our laws, and it violates the most basic protections of our Constitution.
If we torture and we excuse those who torture, quite simply, we are no longer a nation of laws, and we are no longer a democracy where individuals are protected and human rights are sacred.
– J. Anthony Salmon, Burien
Sacrificing moral principles weakens U.S.
Isn’t it interesting that Charles Krauthammer would cite George Tenet as his source for the fairly compelling evidence that torture “works”?
Is Krauthammer forgetting that this is the same Tenet responsible for the now infamous “slam dunk” remark regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? And, according to several credible sources, all of the important information provided by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was obtained before waterboarding.
It stands to reason that what one person considers objective evidence may be considered subjective by another. Justifying torture under “special circumstances” opens a Pandora’s box as to the definition of what exactly defines those circumstances and makes the Geneva Conventions meaningless.
If Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and other Democrats were briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques and said nothing, then they shoulder blame along with Republicans. There is no doubt in my mind that the Republican majority put the then-minority Democrats in a position of being publicly lambasted for being weak on terror if they did not support the majority regarding these techniques.
However, when our political leaders sacrifice their moral principles in the name of their political futures, it is our country and our political system that is made weaker.
– Judy Neldamm, Duvall
April 30, 2009 at 5:00 PM
One question would answer it all
There is a very simple way of clearing up the controversy over enhanced interrogation: one simple question to President Obama.
Just ask this: “If it would save the lives of your children, would you allow enhanced interrogation methods to be used on a terrorist?”
His answer would end the discussion forever.
– Ed Anderson, Kirkland
Investigate Bybee’s role further
With the implementation of interrogation policies designed to extricate false confessions from detainees, federal judge Jay Bybee’s memorandums on interrogation were instrumental in deciding the fate of a nation ["Bybee hints at regret over memo," News, April 26].
Bybee’s policies were constructed to forge an entirely fabricated case for invading a country that posed no threat to the U.S. In addition, it is now clear Bybee’s intervention played a pivotal role that not only precipitated the illegal war, but undermined America’s security and put our military personnel at risk. How many American casualties can be attributed to Bybee’s guidance?
As someone who personally suffers from a condition in which immense pain can result from even gentle touch, I seriously question the legality of any physical contact or manipulation of detainees, let alone imposing the violence perpetrated upon these victims.
The events that led to creation of the policy justifying the application of “enhanced interrogation methods” need to be investigated. If these policies can be attributed to Bybee in any way, he not only needs to be impeached, but the details need to be exposed to ensure that the judicial system is never so seriously abused again.
– John F. Boettner, Seattle
Banning torture a dangerous plan
With impeccable 20/20 hindsight, President Obama says the U.S. will no longer use waterboarding and that we could have found out the same vital information from terrorists by other means. The operative word here is “could.” That means that he’s willing to gamble perhaps thousands of American lives that he can find out about future terror plans through other means.
This is a new era we’re living in, with no clear battle lines and murky motives. To try to keep this country safe while clinging to hackneyed liberal ideology is an exercise in futility. He has no problem using governmental power to take over virtually every area of the economy, yet he’s just a bit squeamish about the methods used to keep us safe.
It will soon be open season on U.S. citizens. Here’s hoping Obama wises up before the carnage hits Main Street.
– Denny Andrews, Bellevue
Guilty until proven innocent?
Regardless of whether one agrees or not with Patrick Burns’ views in “Torture: It’s not about vengeance” [Northwest Voices, Opinion, April 29], he is grossly in error when he states, “… that suspect deserves the right to prove himself innocent.”
It is, rather, the burden of the government to prove the suspect guilty. Until this occurs, the suspect is presumed innocent. This is such a basic tenet of our society that it is worrisome to see it turned on its head!
– Mary C. Winter, Kenmore
April 29, 2009 at 4:30 PM
Injustice is devaluation of the tortured
David S. Broder’s column, “The scapegoating should cease” [Opinion, April 26], attempts to discredit those who want an investigation into the Cheney-Bush torture program.
Broder accuses us of wanting “the humiliation” of those responsible; of having “an unworthy desire for vengeance”; of conducting a “retroactive search for scapegoats”; and of turning “policy disagreements into political or criminal vendettas.” He claims “a so-called truth commission” will lead to “endless political warfare” and “untold bitterness — and injustice.”
In Broder’s world, presidential actions cannot be questioned; only the motives of citizens are suspect.
Were the Nuremberg Trials motivated by an unworthy desire for vengeance? Were they about scapegoating well-meaning Nazis that just had policy disagreements with the Allies? Or were they about trying those responsible for crimes against humanity?
Scapegoating is the blaming of groups of innocent people. Truth commissions are the exact opposite. They are designed to identify by name those responsible for ordering war crimes.
More than 20 Afghans and Iraqis have been tortured to death. They were not “high-value detainees,” in Broder’s words. They were just innocent human beings who apparently have no value to those who defend torture.
Broder says the torture memos were decided “in the proper places — the White House, the intelligence agencies and the Justice Department — by the proper officials.” Absolutely false! Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution says, “The Congress shall have Power To … make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.” The Congress made laws concerning torture and the treatment of prisoners. Cheney and Bush broke those laws, in secret, and lied to the Congress and the American people about it.
Broder may think justice isn’t important. Tell that to the families of the innocent people broken by the Cheney-Bush torture program.
– Bill Distler, Bellingham
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