Saturday Mailbox


September 23, 2006

Agreement allows torture to continue

The agreement between the White House and Republican Sens. John McCain, John W. Warner and Lindsey Graham would, if enacted, violate clear international law on the humane treatment of prisoners while holding out the fiction that detainees will be tried ("President backs off detainee treatment," Sept. 22).

By immunizing CIA interrogators against criminal prosecution for the use of torture techniques such as simulated drowning, the agreement, in effect, guarantees that such techniques will be used.

In theory, under the agreement, a detainee could raise the issue of torture to suppress the use of a coerced confession during a trial by military commission.

But here's the dirty little secret hidden in the pending bill: Under this arrangement, it is unlikely there will ever be such trials.

In focusing on the issues of interrogation and secret evidence, the news media have ignored an even more odious feature of the bill: It prohibits the federal courts from hearing habeas corpus actions from terrorist suspect detainees.

As a result, the administration could hold detainees without trial, indefinitely.

If this bill passes, this or any subsequent administration will be able to seize individuals, including citizens, torture them and hold them indefinitely without trial, all on the unsubstantiated allegation that they are terrorists.

And make no mistake about it: This can happen to Arabs and Muslims, and there is nothing to stop it from being used on any American whom the government chooses to label a "terrorist."

Sheldon H. Laskin


President protects our troops, people

I must confess that listening to the nonsensical arguments against the president's legislation on interrogation practices and tribunals made by Sen. John McCain, Sen. John W. Warner and others turned my stomach ("McCain draws ire of conservatives," Sept. 19).

Our troops are in a no-holds-barred fight with terrorists, and these fools were trying to tie them down with rules that the other side will not abide by.

American troops are being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our people are endangered throughout the world.

Yet these fools sought to inhibit our means to take terrorists out before they can attack.

I support our president and his legislation because it will protect our troops and our people.

The war on terrorism is a war of never "giving quarter."

The only legislation Congress should pass, in addition to the president's bill, is a bill that reminds us that the Geneva Conventions give no protection to terrorists.

M. Norman Ryan

Bel Air

Senator still seeks to save steel jobs

The Sun's column "American workers caught in steel trap" (Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 19) condemned politicians' silence on the demise of American steel jobs.

But I have not, and will not, stop fighting for steel.

Since I came to Congress, I have fought for measures to protect America's steel companies and its workers.

I called on the president to impose trade tariffs on steel to level the playing field.

I fought for the creation of the Emergency Steel Loan Guarantee Program to provide emergency loan guarantees to help steel companies weather the storm.

And because of the many jobs lost in the industry, I also had to fight to protect pensions and health care benefits of retirees left in the cold.

Most recently, I helped craft the Pension Protection Act, which does a great deal to protect retirees' pensions.

I stood up for steelworkers and steel companies to ensure that government rules don't exacerbate the economic difficulties of a sector struggling to compete.

But years of unfair foreign trade practices have scarred our domestic industry.

And the indifference by the current administration to the woes of our steel industry is costing America an important segment of its economy.

This will come back to haunt us.

Barbara A. Mikulski


The writer is a U.S. senator.

City hasn't helped Harwood's struggles

Matthew Dolan's moving article about Baltimore hero Edna McAbier did a wonderful job of not only telling Ms. McAbier's story but also discussing the larger problem of witness intimidation in Baltimore ("A Life Exiled," Sept. 19).

There are, however, two items about this story that several residents I know on Lorraine Avenue would like to mention.

First, it is important to note that not all neighbors agreed with Nathaniel Wilson's assertion that Ms. McAbier should not have tried to fight the gangs and drug dealers and essentially got what she deserved.

The residents wish to thank Ms. McAbier for struggling to make our street safer and more beautiful.

They also want to let her know that they are sad that she is no longer there and that they are trying to fight for their street however they can.

They know that it is a difficult fight and still a dangerous one, and people are still scared. But if more people in Baltimore had Ms. McAbier's passion and dedication and were less willing to stand by while the drugs were passed, maybe our city would be safer.

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