Readers Respond

August 26, 2009

Torture is regrettable but necessary in today's world

I'm tired of the absolute denial that I find many of my fellow Americans living in ("Torture is un-American," Aug. 25).

No one is happy about torture or its use. Nor is anyone happy about war, and acts of terrorism. They are, however, a reality. One we must be prepared to handle.

I believe in the United States of America and its Constitution. I believe that throughout our nation's history there have been regrettable instances, moments where we took a collective view of ourselves in a social mirror and didn't like what we saw. Slavery, Manifest Destiny, denial of civil rights - all were regrettable. Change came by various means, and we corrected those practices.

This is the America we inherited from our forefathers. An America that now finds itself at war on two different fronts against an enemy that doesn't have established boundaries and is unconventional in every sense of the word. How do we confront them? How do we "justly" fight a war against an enemy with no boundaries, no flag to rally around, and no plan to fight in a "just" manner?

Our adversaries have two things truly going for them. They have their beliefs, and they have the will to bring those beliefs to fruition. Unfortunately, we no longer demonstrate either. We are a 21st century culture with all of its ideals and promise, no longer willing to get our hands dirty, no longer believing in the common defense, no longer believing that flawed as we may be, we are entitled to defend ourselves with any means necessary.

So weep for the tortured, and pray for a time when it won't be necessary. Accept, however, the reality that we are at war, and in war if there are to be rules then both sides must recognize them. Since we have no traditional opponent, who signs in Geneva? Who does the Red Cross or our diplomatic service complain to about beheadings?

Our enemies need to know that we are willing to go to whatever lengths it takes to defend our system and its people. They need to know, not suspect, that we will use extreme measures. If history and nature have taught us anything, let it be to recognize that those who are predatory in nature always look to exploit our weaknesses. For this reason, let us accept that torture happened, and while regrettable, it is a tool that we and all other governments use. If we legislate against it, we will be setting ourselves up to be made fools. Both by our enemies, and our own governmental intelligence agencies which will just find "loopholes" to continue using these extreme but necessary methods.

Paul M. Antola, Lutherville

Clean energy can be good for business

Instead of creating hot air over the science of global warming, American businesses need to discover the many benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy ("U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants public trial before EPA statement on climate change," Aug. 25). Businesses all around the country should be fighting for incentives for clean energy and energy efficiency in the Senate's upcoming energy bill, not threatening suit over well-established scientific consensus.

There's never been a more important time to repower America with clean energy. Businesses can put us back to work manufacturing, selling, installing and servicing wind turbines, solar panels and other sources of clean power. Transitioning to clean energy would not only create jobs, it would help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and save businesses and consumers money. A recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that transitioning to clean energy would cut costs in the Mid-Atlantic region by $1,120 per household annually and save consumers and businesses a total of $36 billion annually in 2030.

In Maryland, investment in renewables can lead the charge toward a revitalized economy and a great monetary savings for businesses and consumers, not to mention reduced carbon emissions. Rather than grasping onto today's failing energy agenda, businesses should work to pass a strong Senate energy bill that helps them transition to smart, clean energy policies.

Shea Kinser, Baltimore The writer is Clean Energy Associate for Environment Maryland

Time to save the bay is now

I don't pretend to be an expert on water quality or the science involved. I am a concerned citizen who sees that the quality of life we share depends on the respect and reverence that we show for the gifts of nature that we have been given.

We have to improve our stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. Would we allow a pond in our local park to become a cesspool and endanger the lives of those in our immediate community? Of course not! Yet, we seem to be sitting by while the entire bay slowly becomes polluted; the crabs and oysters disappear and the rockfish are too poisoned to eat.

What's wrong with us? We have to step up and pay the piper. We have to do so in a manner that avoids threatening family farms and respects the tradition of the watermen. We've seen in the recent good news from New England, and the recovering haddock, that progress can be ours if we act in time. Now is the time for enforcement - voluntary measures just don't work, because it will be painful for us all. The EPA plan for the bay, due in just weeks, will be critical for all our futures. Some pain now vs. future death of our premier natural resource. That's a trade-off we have to accept.

Barbara Barrett

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