Letters To The Editor


October 09, 2007

Why does U.S. pursue cruel torture policy?

Thank you for the editorial about the Justice Department's secret legal opinions allowing extremely harsh CIA interrogations ("Enforce the law," Oct. 5).

Most people do not know that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 permits evidence obtained through torture to be used by military commissions, thereby codifying for the first time in our country's history a policy permitting torture.

The recent executive order governing CIA interrogation does not close secret prisons or end the practice of kidnapping and sending prisoners for interrogation to third countries known for torture.

The recent revelations from the Justice Department add a further dimension of horror ("Opinions on torture sought from Justice," Oct. 5).

In testimony before Congress, representatives of all branches of the U.S. military urged the administration and Congress to adhere to the Geneva Conventions and follow the U.S. Army Field Manual for Interrogation. They were not heeded.

The puzzle for me is why, given the testimony from professional interrogators that such harsh tactics do not elicit good information, the administration persists in pursuing its torture policy.

And quite apart from its ineffectiveness, torture is morally reprehensible.

Are we a nation that condones torture?

Suzanne H. O'Hatnick


The writer is chairwoman of the legislative council of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

Direct the growth to designated areas

There is a simple way to make Smart Growth smarter ("Smarter smart growth," editorial, Oct. 2).

As The Sun indicated, the basis of the Smart Growth programs is "priority funding areas." These are county-designated areas that define where local governments want to direct growth, with financial assistance from the state.

However, time and again, local governments have left infrastructure projects in their designated PFAs unfunded and indeed passed adequate public facilities ordinances that prevent development in those areas because schools, roads and public safety facilities there are already overwhelmed.

But if the developers can't build in the designated areas, they simply move out beyond the PFAs, where, interestingly enough, there are usually few, if any, adequate public facilities constraints.

We don't have to be smarter. We simply have to do what the law we passed said we should do.

John B. Colvin


The writer is former acting chairman of the state's Economic Growth, Resource Protection and Planning Commission.

Caring for seniors just isn't a priority

Did reporter Frank D. Roylance read his own paper the week before his column "A Senior Challenge" (Sept. 30) was published?

One Sun article that week described how nursing homes are traded on Wall Street for profit ("Nursing homes languish in hands of private firms," Sept. 23). That is one reason so many homes have so little staff for such labor-intensive work - fewer salaries mean bigger profits.

But Mr. Roylance's suggestion that free-market strategies involving liberalizing immigration regulations will help care for our aging population misses the crux of the matter.

Caring for human beings is not valued in our society.

The vicious cycle of low wages and short staffing compounds the difficulties of caring for the frail and infirm.

As long as we continue to care for our seniors on the cheap and do not respect our seniors and those who provide care, this will not change.

Patricia Nicholls


The writer is a hospice nurse.

Coach doesn't grasp the point of college

Evidently, University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams thinks you don't go to college to get an education, you just go to play basketball ("UM men's basketball grad rate falls again," Oct. 4).

He should be fired for his comments on why the graduation rate of the university's men's basketball team is so low.

College is for learning - but evidently Mr. Williams doesn't think so.

J. M. Cristy

Bel Air

Traditional schools have failed the test

Baltimore school-board member James Campbell asks: "Do charters pass the test?" (Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 4). I avidly await his follow-up essay: "Do traditional Baltimore schools pass the test?"

He perpetrates the falsehood that equal funding for all schools must inherently disadvantage kids in traditional schools.

But the real disadvantage actually comes through choices made by Mr. Campbell and his school board: They choose to divert funds from education to administration, choose to stockpile more building space than they need and choose to spend money on court lawsuits and legal fees rather than on classroom opportunities for our children.

Mr. Campbell says that Marylanders can learn from 15 years of national experience, and indeed we can.

But we can also learn from more than 20 years of local experience.

For most of those two decades, Baltimore's school system spent nothing on charter schools and experienced increased per-pupil funding.

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