November 24, 2008

Guantanamo prison violates basic rights

Thank you for printing "U.S. judge orders 5 detainees freed" (Nov. 21), which highlights the atrocities our government has allowed at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

As an American and a high school student studying law, it is difficult for me to understand how our government has been able to get away with this terrible scheme for so long.

In America, you are innocent until proven guilty. And as a human being, you are entitled to certain inalienable human rights.

It is not acceptable for the individuals incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay to be detained indefinitely without a fair, public and speedy trial. It is an insult to America's values and ideals that torture has been allowed to be inflicted upon detainees to provoke confessions.

Our American values set the bar for human rights and humanity in the world, and when we commit acts like these we are encouraging other countries to follow our poor example.

The Bush administration created a prison where it claimed that the rule of law did not apply. In this prison, numerous detainees who have no association with terrorism have been incarcerated for years without any opportunity to prove their innocence.

I believe that the people who put this unconstitutional and obviously illegal institution into place should be incarcerated for their assault on our American values.

We must protect American freedom and make the legal and ethical decision to shut down Guantanamo Bay immediately.

Elyse Preston, Towson

The writer is a sophomore at Towson High School.

Time for clear answers on state police spying

Enough already with the Maryland State Police surveillance two-step ("Police spied on activists through '07," Nov. 20).

What did the state police do? When did they do it? Was it lawful? Who authorized it? What damage was done? How is that damage being repaired?

I want exact answers, not beat-around-the-bush public relations press releases.

Every news organization in the state should be demanding precise, honest and verifiable answers to these questions.

John Kelly, Parkville

Executions costly as well as cruel

As a citizen, I am pleased that the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment voted to abolish capital punishment ("Panel's death penalty backers still in the minority," Nov. 21).

From the testimony to the commission, it is clear that the death penalty carries no benefit for the public and is failed public policy.

While I am morally opposed to state killing, I realize that others are not. So what's increasingly important in these days of austerity is the cost of the death penalty, which is considerable.

As our country slides into a deeper and deeper recession, it makes sense for us to use that money to prevent crime in the first place.

Cathy Knepper, Kensington

Roland Park strives to keep its character

The president of the LifeSpan Network recently took Baltimore's Roland Park neighborhood to task for opposing the Keswick Multi-Care Center's plan to construct a care facility on land now owned by the Baltimore Country Club ("Retirement communities have a positive impact," letters, Nov. 16).

Having just visited my sprightly, 93-year-old aunt near Pittsburgh, I have a far more jaundiced view of the benefits afforded the elderly by warehousing them in even the finest continuing care retirement communities than I did when this controversy began.

Those concerns aside, the attempts by the letter writer and Keswick to sidestep overwhelming community opposition by dangling the lure of added tax revenue before budget-strapped city leaders are troubling.

Most people in Roland Park oppose the Keswick facility not out of snobbishness but because the development would drive a commercial wedge into the community's historic, residential character.

That character is fundamentally important to us, and we therefore adamantly oppose any kind of zoning change.

For years, developers have had their way in Baltimore. Just ask people in Federal Hill and Locust Point.

We are hardly alone in believing it wiser to respect and preserve strong neighborhoods than to heed the siren call of corporate promises.

Robert I. Cottom, Baltimore

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