November 11, 2008

Our justice system will work for detainees

Regarding "Obama plans U.S. trials for Guantanamo detainees" (Nov. 10), President-elect Barack Obama should not endeavor to create a new system of justice or "tweak" the ones that exist. He should simply close Guantanamo, shut down the military commissions and try the detainees in either criminal courts or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

These are the best forms of justice in the world, and fully capable of handling sensitive national security issues. Any effort to "tweak" or "retrofit" them to remedy the mistakes of the Bush administration would just make matters worse. These systems of justice have served America well for centuries, and we should not shy away from using them in our most difficult cases. Creating any new legal system is a doomed experiment from the start - as President Bush knows too well. It would require congressional action, and time. We can't wait to restore our America.

And if any effort to change our system of American justice is undertaken by any president, he can expect the ACLU to meet him at every corner.

Anthony D. Romero, New York

The writer is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Time to shut down School of the Americas

It is nice to see that one of the men trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, reincarnated as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, has done so well ("Colombian army chief quits amid scandal," Nov. 11). The Baltimore Sun reported that Gen. Mario Montoya resigned "in a widening scandal over the killing of scores of civilians, allegedly spurred by promotion-seeking officers to inflate rebel body counts."

The United Nations' top human rights official told reporters after a weeklong fact-finding mission that she considered the extrajudicial killings "widespread and systematic."

We don't need more men trained in the School of the Americas who come out as clones of Mario Montoya or Manuel Noriega. It is more than time for the new Democratic leadership to shut it down.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, New Castle, Del.

Will U.S. under Obama obey international law?

There's a lot of hope in the nation engendered by President-elect Barack Obama, and the desire among many to see the officials of the past administration leave their political haunts ("It's Obama," Nov. 5). In view of the past 60 years of U.S. history, which includes wars, pre-emptive strikes and covert operations ranging from Guatemala to Vietnam to Nicaragua to Iraq, it may be almost too much to ask or expect, but it would be wonderful if the new leadership would signal to the world that we will respect and firmly encourage others to respect international law and the sovereignty of our neighbors in this rapidly shrinking world.

Dave Schott, Baltimore

Front-page photos are Obama overkill

On Monday, for the sixth straight day, The Baltimore Sun found it a necessity to again have Barack Obama's picture on the front page. His picture also found its way on the front of the Sports section last week, and was on Sports again Sunday as well as the health section Monday ("Fit to lead," Nov. 10). Perhaps the comics will be next? Enough already!

R. Ruhe, Columbia

Column didn't 'sneer' at the president-elect

A letter writer expressed his disappointment that The Baltimore Sun published Ron Smith's column ("Don't expect much from next Great Man," Nov. 5) in which readers are urged to be realistic in their expectations of President Barack Obama ("Sneering at Obama isn't real analysis," Nov. 7). Mr. Smith thoughtfully cites the failures of past presidents for comprehensive health reform and supports his argument that there are limitations on what the executive branch can do.

In an edition where few criticisms of Mr. Obama could be found, the writer seized upon a headline that was neutral and not praising of Mr. Obama and denigrated Mr. Smith and his talk-show medium. I wonder if he read the column, which did not criticize Mr. Obama or his policies.

News flash to all who have their keyboards ready to attack in defense of Mr. Obama and his policies: The campaign is over. The perpetual "campaign mode" of the two parties detracts from a clear understanding of the issues that face this country. Lose the "us vs. them" attitude.

Bruce Winand, Timonium

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