Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 06, 2007

Wrong person for Justice Department

Like many people, I was initially relieved that in nominating Michael B. Mukasey to head the Justice Department, President Bush seemed to have put forward a plausible candidate Democrats and Republicans could accept ("Confirmation gets a boost," Nov. 3). At last, it seemed the president had found someone to guide the process of restoring the department's image and effectiveness following former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales' disgraceful and disastrous tenure.

However, Mr. Mukasey's evasiveness on interrogation methods, and his evident belief that emergency situations release the administration from its obligation to comply with our laws and constitutional guarantees, is deeply disturbing.

Mr. Mukasey's testimony did not seem to be sincere caution from a thoughtful jurist; it felt like equivocation.

Mr. Mukasey's testimony also suggests that he, like Mr. Gonzales, could be induced to ignore the laws of the land and the will of Congress at the behest of the White House, which has long shown its contempt for the role and rights of the legislative branch.

In claiming that Mr. Mukasey is not being treated fairly on Capitol Hill, Mr. Bush is once again seeking to confuse people and pressure Congress to toe his line.

If Congress wishes to begin correcting its low image in the minds of most Americans, it needs to begin standing up for what is right, and pushing back against what is wrong.

And Mr. Mukasey, by his own repeated statements, has shown that he is the wrong person to lead the Justice Department.

Charles Toll

Pasadena

Torture often yields faulty intelligence

The discussion on the attorney general nomination is driving me insane ("Confirmation gets a boost," Nov. 3).

It is a continuation of the discussion that started after the Abu Ghraib scandal about whether or not the United States should torture people.

And of course we shouldn't. But we are doing so anyway.

What is almost always missing from this discussion is the plain fact that torturing people doesn't yield accurate information.

It has never, so far as I know, been shown that torture increases a subject's willingness to give up accurate information. And it has been shown that much of the information offered under torture is inaccurate.

Soft interrogation techniques work better.

Why is no one talking about the fact that beyond the moral issues, torture doesn't work?

Craig Bettenhausen

Baltimore

Presidential power poses the key issue

I watched most of the confirmation hearing for Michael B. Mukasey's nomination to be attorney general and read The Sun's article "Mukasey unsure about legality" (Oct. 31).

And I think that the question about whether waterboarding is torture is so imprecise as to be a distraction.

The only question I see relevant to Mr. Mukasey's confirmation requires a simple yes or no answer: "Is the president subject to U.S. law and the Constitution?"

If he answers no, he should be rejected unanimously.

But if he answers yes, the follow-up question should be: "If, after you are confirmed, you become aware that the president is operating outside the law, will you resign?"

This confirmation could be an easy issue.

Richard L. Ottenheimer

Pikesville

Waterboarding just tiny part of problem

Give me a break. The United States attacks a sovereign nation that had neither attacked us nor threatened us and now we're having a moral dilemma over whether to pour water down some guy's nose ("Confirmation gets a boost," Nov. 3)?

Ken Shapiro

Baltimore

Millions for racing a waste of funds

The Sun's article "Slots bill is seen as no guarantee for Pimlico" (Nov. 2) shows what a giveaway Gov. Martin O'Malley's slots bill really is.

According to the article, the bill "provides an annual subsidy of as much as $140 million a year for race purses, breeders and track improvements."

With the state facing a projected $1.7 billion deficit, I'm sure most Marylanders could suggest better ways to spend $140 million a year than to give it to the horse racing industry and Magna Entertainment.

What's more important - health care, education, public safety and the environment, or turning a bunch of millionaires into billionaires?

Kurt S. Willem

Hydes

A different diploma if you don't pass HSA

It was with utter dismay that I read about the state's decision to provide a graduation alternative to some students who can't pass the High School Assessment tests in "State alters exam policy" (Nov. 1) and the editorial "Bridging the gap" (Nov. 1).

This decision will no doubt place a stigma on a Maryland high school diploma that could jeopardize the standing of a high school graduate when he or she applies for meaningful employment or for college.

So I strongly recommend that Maryland officials establish appropriate standards for two separate diplomas - one for students able to pass the current High School Assessments and another for students who fail these exams but are successful in passing the alternative assessments.

Quinton D. Thompson

Towson

Review the work of students who fail

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