letter in the Inquirer, 4/22/09
President Obama should be commended for ordering the infamous torture memos to be released; however, his attempt to shield the torturers is a grave mistake (“Obama absolves CIA for torture,” Friday). It might better be described as aiding and abetting criminal acts.
Principle IV, established at Nuremburg following the trial of the Nazi war criminals in 1945, established that “following orders” was no defense, provided a moral choice was in fact possible.
Also, the U.S. Army Field Manual provides soldiers with the option of refusing to carry out an illegal order, and the CIA operatives who used head-bashing, starvation, and waterboarding to abuse their prisoners were civilians, thus having more latitude for making difficult ethical choices than soldiers have.
They could have flatly refused to torture other human beings. They could have resigned. They didn’t.
Obama, of course, didn’t rule out prosecuting those at higher levels who designed and approved the torture program (e.g. Dick Cheney) or provided the legal fig leaf for it (John Yoo), but he has said he wants to “move forward.”
We must prosecute those involved in civil-rights abuses at all levels of the political pecking order. Justice requires it. Posterity demands it.
letter in Daily Local News, 4/20/09
The good news was that the Obama administration, under pressure from lawsuits filed by the ACLU and other groups defending our civil liberties, released many of the previously hidden torture memos from the Bush administration.
These memos show in graphic detail how the Bush Defense Department lawyers provided “legal” cover for specific crimes committed against detainees by the CIA. These included not only the infamous waterboarding but banging heads against the wall, sleep deprivation for over a week, forcing detainees to stand nude, and in extreme heat or cold, and other unsavory, indeed despicable, abuses … many committed in combination.
Any claim to America’s moral stature in this world has been eroded by these actions, which showed a complete disregard for both domestic and international law.
The bad news is that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have decided not to prosecute anyone for these crimes. Continue reading
letter in Daily Local News, 2/27/09:
In response to the recent letter regarding President Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay and the dire effects that it will have on our country’s safety, I must forcefully disagree. The author argues that waterboarding and other methods of torture were never used and that this was “made up” by the “leftists.'” Given the fact that then-Vice President Dick Cheney admitted publicly that waterboarding was, in fact, being used, I find this statement to be delusional.
The author also claims that the United States is now in jeopardy because of the impending closure of Guantanamo Bay. Apparently, he doesn’t realize that the way in which these prisoners are being held and our obvious dismissal of the Geneva Convention has directly impacted the safety of this country as more young men and women in the Middle East and elsewhere are being trained in terrorist tactics.
This is not something that has been concocted by the “leftists.” This is statistical fact. It is often helpful to be aware of one’s subject matter prior to writing a letter to the editor.
letter in Daily Local News, 2/27/09:
President Obama is sending 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan and plans on sending more later. Have we learned nothing from Iraq? How much will an endless war in Afghanistan cost the American taxpayer? How much will it cost in human life?
Wouldn’t it be fun, just once, to try a nonviolent approach to conflict situations? To wave the olive branch instead of the bloody sword? To bomb our alleged enemies with compassionate acts rather than missiles?
Greg Mortenson, an American with a serious new vision, has planted over 70 schools, primarily for girls, in that part of the world. How many of his schools will be destroyed in the crossfire, or be “accidentally” demolished by our predators’ bombs?
Kavita Ramdes, president of the Global Fund for Women, writes, “Yes, Afghanistan needs troops. But it needs troops of doctors, troops of teachers, troops of Peace Corps volunteers, and troops of farmers to go and replant the fruit orchards.”
Now there’s a surge that makes sense!