Letters To The Editor


October 24, 2007

Obfuscating torture is no real defense

Neither President Bush nor his nominee to be U.S. attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey, nor anyone else in the Bush administration is willing to publicly answer the simple question: Is waterboarding (an interrogation method that simulates drowning) a form of torture?

The excuses they have given for their reticence are themselves tortuous: Mr. Bush has argued that terrorists would get an advantage if he answered the question, and Mr. Mukasey cited his concern that to answer would put interrogators' "careers or freedom at risk" ("Mukasey hearing turns testy," Oct. 19).

In truth, terrorists know that the U.S. "outsources" (through the program known as "extraordinary rendition") harsh detainee interrogation to countries where waterboarding is employed.

Thus terrorists determined to steel themselves against this widely documented technique are not waiting for a definitive answer from Mr. Bush.

As for Mr. Mukasey's alleged concern for protecting the interrogators - well, in fact, nothing could put them more at risk than not knowing whether the methods they employ are legal under international conventions.

In a just world, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, other members of the Bush administration and some Republican and Democratic members of Congress would find themselves facing war crime charges at The Hague, where they would have to publicly and explicitly defend their torture and pre-emptive war policies.

Dave Goldsmith


The writer is coordinator of the Baltimore County Green Party.

It's wrong to allow bear trophy hunt

Outdoors writer Candus Thomson supports the Humane Society of the United States' work to fund animal shelters, rescue pets lost during Hurricane Katrina and stop the cruelties of animal fighting, puppy mills and horse slaughter. But she apparently can't accept that we also work to stop cruelties to wildlife ("Annual bear politics in season, too," Oct. 21).

The black bear was nearly extinct in Maryland a half-century ago. A ban on hunting allowed the species to recover, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources estimates there are now 326 bears in Western Maryland.

That's fewer bears than live in New Jersey, where hunting is prohibited, and fewer than in Florida, where the black bear is listed as a threatened species.

We brought these animals back from local extirpation, and we shouldn't fall prey to the scare-mongering of the trophy hunting lobby.

They want to shoot bears for the heads, and their professed concern about nuisance impacts is wildly exaggerated.

We can solve bear problems by storing food and trash properly and eliminating the odors and attractions that create nuisance bears.

Shooting bears at random doesn't stop problem bears, any more than shooting into a crowded room is a reasonable crime control strategy.

It was wrong for Maryland to end the protection of black bears in 2004, and it's wrong for Gov. Martin O'Malley to allow the trophy hunting of these creatures.

Michael Markarian


The writer is executive vice president of the Humane Society of the United States.

More concern about animals than people?

The Sun's article "Dog drama highlights `re-home' pet debate" (Oct. 20) notes that "the public's wrath has no bounds where the treatment of animals is concerned."

Surely all animals are God's creatures. However, let us not lose a sense of proportion about our priorities.

If the public only showed the same level of concern for the treatment of abused and neglected children, victims of domestic violence, the mentally ill and other fragile people, just imagine how many intractable social problems would dissolve.

Debbie Feldman Jones


Solar subsidies a bad investment

The Sun's article "Solar power under scrutiny" (Oct. 19) addresses the implementation of Maryland's goal of getting 2 percent of its electricity from solar power by 2022.

However, that goal is unnecessarily costly and narrow.

Because Maryland's climate and latitude aren't right for solar power generation, subsidizing solar power will cost the state tens of millions and perhaps hundreds of millions more than is necessary to generate clean power.

This is an astonishing waste, even without thinking about our large state deficit. By focusing such a subsidy on one technology ill-suited for this region, we may starve other, more appropriate technologies of funds.

Let's leave solar subsidies to the sun-drenched Southwest and to the federal government, whose policies could actually accelerate technical progress.

I applaud aggressive state targets for renewable energy and energy conservation. But any technology that is low-emissions or reduces energy use should qualify for the subsidy.

That would be an effective way to promote innovation.

Benjamin F. Hobbs


The writer is a professor of engineering at the Johns Hopkins University.

Wind farm can help ease warming trend

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