Letters to the Editor
A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
We're winning but the other side makes all the points
Editor, The Times:
So the president thinks America is winning its war ["Five Years of War: Defiant Bush says U.S. safer, world is better," Times page one, March 19]. In some sense, the terrorists have "won," if you must use that word. They destroyed the World Trade Center to damage the USA by striking deep into the American economy.
Five years later, the cost of chasing al-Qaida has caused us to incur huge annual deficits, each increasing the massive national debt; our economy is in recession; gasoline has gone from about $1.40 a gallon to around $3.50; we have lost 4,000 dead and several times as many severely wounded; America admits it now tortures captives and holds people incommunicado for years; and we have few friends left in the community of nations.
Is there anything on that list that the terrorists didn't want to happen as a result of 9/11?
— Jon Jensen, College Place
Victory with zero
Before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Iran warned this country (via intermediaries) that such an invasion would almost certainly set off a civil war and cause the U.S. to be bogged down for years in a grievously injurious adventure.
Now, George W. Bush claims that an American withdrawal would encourage Iran to develop nuclear weapons! Logic would argue precisely the opposite!
Bush also claimed Iraq offers this country a chance for a "major strategic victory on the war on terror"!
A few more "victories" and the U.S. will be bankrupt.
— James Canning, Seattle
A whole other ballgame
Happy fifth anniversary, Dick!
I was again sickened by the rancor and arrogance of Vice President Dick Cheney's willingness to continue to lie to the world. "Cheney in Iraq, links invasion to 9/11 attacks" [News, March 19], stated Cheney, in his recent surprise visit to Iraqi, "defended the toppling of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as part of the struggle against terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon."
The next paragraph reads, "This month, an exhaustive Pentagon-sponsored review of more than 600,000 Iraqi documents captured during the 2003 U.S. invasion found no evidence that Saddam's regime had any operational links with the al-Qaida terrorist network."
— Larry Diamond, Bellevue
Let the rookies take a shot
When parents get a kid a bicycle, they usually put on training wheels to help the kid learn to ride. But training wheels aren't meant to be permanent, and someday need to come off or the kid will never learn to ride a bike.
It's time we took the training wheels off Iraq and let the Iraqis learn to ride by themselves. They neither need nor want a foreign "parent" holding on anymore; they haven't for a long time and it is time to respect their wishes and let go.
— Karen Isaacson, Woodinville
They gave it everything
I was working downtown last week and walked by the war memorial at the Metro Transit entry on Second and Pike for the first time. Much like the Vietnam War Memorial, it is tastefully done in dark gray granite. Also like the Vietnam Memorial, I was able to pick out the names of two fallen soldiers from my high-school class.
Heading north, I saw the new stone block with the heading "Iraq." My jaw dropped to see the numbers — at least four or five full lines, with 4 feet of empty space below. I didn't count, but it must contain at least 50 names? I had thought maybe it was 10. Talk about a surge.
How could the boomers manage to stop 'Nam and yet appear impotent in the face of these unending casualties?
We should be ashamed of ourselves.
At least go and take five minutes of silence in front of that cold, gray granite block, out of respect.
— Mike Carter, Renton
The disabled list
Captain on crutches
President Bush recently vetoed a bill that would prohibit torture of prisoners held in custody by the CIA [ News, March 9]. Waterboarding, stripping prisoners naked, and forcing prisoners to simulate sexual acts are among the techniques the bill would have prohibited.
If another country were to use those interrogation techniques on American POWs, we would be outraged. However, the president is far from outraged by the behavior of the CIA.
These and other torture techniques are generally utilized only by totalitarian regimes that we despise. Although the president talks about loving freedom, his actions put us on the same moral ground as some of the worst enemies of freedom.
The president says these practices have prevented terrorist attacks.
Frankly, I don't believe it. Remember, this is the same president who was completely confident that Saddam Hussein had WMD. Bush's credibility was already at rock bottom, and this veto did nothing to lift it higher.
If the moral character of the president has dropped so low that he openly advocates the use of torture, I think it is time for Congress to stand up and override his veto. Our moral standing in the free world is at stake, and we can't allow the president to convert us into the kind of country we abhor.
— Joe Sullivan, Kirkland
An uncontrollable tick
Reader Andy Thompson ["There's a war going on: The Adrenalin surge," Northwest Voices, March 17] gives us the "ticking bomb" scenario as a justification for torture. This scene out of the TV drama "24" is exactly the sort of propaganda the Bush administration has been using to justify torture — the one-thousandth-of-one-percent event.
What Thompson forgets is that we have been torturing people we had no evidence against whatsoever.
In a story in the documentary by Alex Gibney, "Taxi to the Dark Side," an Afghani taxicab driver was named as an al-Qaida operative to the CIA in order for the accuser to receive a bounty. Five days later, he was dead, and the cause of death was listed by the Army pathologist as "homicide." Basically, his legs were pulped, and he bled to death. They knew he was innocent after detaining him for three days, and yet continued to beat him until he finally lost too much blood.
Good thing we stopped that bomb from going off.
We are supposed to be better than our enemies. By allowing our people to torture whomever we choose, we make more enemies than we defeat. Are we not supposed to be the "shining city on the hill"?
It's bad enough we have the fanatics against us; if we enrage the rest of the Muslims in the world by our barbarity, we won't survive as a nation or as an ideal.
— Sten Ryason, Seattle
We hyperextended our muscle
One justification used for torture is the hypothetical "two hours until the bomb goes off" situation. In that situation, I suppose torture might be acceptable.
However, that only applies to that situation. It isn't a blanket permission to torture people.
What follows are three hypothetical situations. In each of these, you have a firearm and the skill to use it effectively, and the other person is unaware of you.
Situation 1: You are at home. A man has just shot your spouse.
Situation 2: You are out in the woods. A man with a rifle just shot at something.
Situation 3: It's late at night. You've heard shots fired. You look out the window, and see a man in the shadows with a pistol.
In the first case, shooting is probably the best response. In the second case, it's probably a hunter. In the third case? Maybe it's an armed criminal, maybe it's the police officer trying to catch the criminal.
There isn't one solution for all things. If President Bush had used a signing statement that reserved the use of torture for time-critical situations, I would understand. Instead, he vetoed the restriction.
— Peter Eng, Seattle
At least it's not contagious
Poor Eliot Spitzer. If only he had followed the Republican playbook and invaded New Jersey, tortured his political enemies and wiretapped New York citizens, he would still have a job.
— Tom Entler, Kenmore
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company