Friday, June 17, 2005

Gitmo, the war and us

With all the talk about closing the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,holdingfacility (“Rumsfeld defends Gitmo,” Page 1, Wednesday), Washington seems to have forgotten its purpose.

A recording of former President Bill Clinton reveals that one reason he did not accept custody of Osama bin Laden — offered to him by the government of Sudan — was that he had no way to hold him. This allowed bin Laden to escape to Afghanistan with his top lieutenants, where he plotted and finalized the evil plans that came to fruition on September 11.

Well, President Bush has found a way to hold people like bin Laden, expressly to prevent them from attacking us. Yet, so soon after those horrific crimes of September 11, many seem to be dangerously shortsighted. Politicians must never forget that America is at war with evil people who will stop at nothing — including manipulating our legal and political systems — to destroy us and our way of life.


Midlothian, Va.


It is appalling that Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, thinks that mishandling the Koran, which we print and provide at taxpayers’ expense, and playing loud rap music are the moral equivalent of the Holocaust (“Gitmo called death camp,” Thursday, Page 1). If Mr. Durbin considers getting the Koran wet to be the moral equivalent of Dachau, perhaps he would like to have the jihadists moved to Chicago’s Cook County jail.

Speaking on the Senate floor as hearings on purported prisoner abuses at Gitmo began, Mr. Durbin said that “describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by the Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or same mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings.”

As noted, about 9 million people — including 6 million Jews — died in the Nazi death camps; 2.7 million died in the Soviet gulags, where prisoners were literally worked to death; and about 1.7 million people died in the killing fields of Cambodia.

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has pointed out, each of the Muslim prisoners of war at Guantanamo was given a prayer mat, a cap and a copy of the Koran. Each cell has a stenciled arrow pointing toward Mecca. Gitmo’s library is stocked with jihadist books.

The detainees at Guantanamo were not arrested for shoplifting or auto theft. They were taken prisoner in the middle of a war on terror, most of them after engaging U.S. troops in battle. They are not kidnapped members of the Afghan boy’s choir, but terrorists of the type that fly planes into American skyscrapers; fill mass graves with fellow Muslims; and detonate car bombs that kill fellow Muslims in schools, hospitals and waiting in line for jobs.

Those who say heads should roll over the treatment of jihadists at Guantanamo overlook the fact that heads have rolled — those of Nicholas Berg and others at the hands of the same people who deprived 3,000 people of their human rights on September 11.



Kerry on the record

Why bother checking the facts when it’s easier to take shots from the cheap seats? Jennifer Harper’s “A Kerry moment” (Inside Politics, Wednesday, Nation) is dead wrong on Sen. John Kerry’s record on trade. Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, did vote for the Chile, Singapore and Australia trade deals as a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and the Congressional Record proves that rather than duck a tough position in the heat of the presidential campaign, he supported final passage.

Mr. Kerry was right about his own record then, and he’s right to join such centrist Democrats as Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher of California in opposing the Central American Free Trade Agreement now. Unlike previous Republican and Democratic administrations, the Bush administration is negotiating trade deals that take us backward and refusing to enforce the trade agreements we already have. Under CAFTA, workers don’t have the same standing to end child labor that corporations have to end copyright theft.

Is the administration really prepared to argue a corporation’s copyright is more important than a worker’s guarantee to a safe workplace?

David Wade

Communications director

Sen. John Kerry


Reparations and responsibility

Regarding the editorial “Shaking down Wachovia”on Wednesday: Harvard Law School professor Charles Ogletree warns that Wachovia must provide comfort to slave descendants, or else.

Let’s assume that, on average, the descendants of slaves had 2.5 children by age 25. A child born into slavery on Dec. 31, 1862, the day before the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves, would have about 200 descendants today. Paying each family would require $100 million. I hope someone has a plan for how we’ll pay for that. Maybe a tax on top of income, capital gains, Social Security, Medicare, property, sales and estate taxes is warranted.

I would be interested to see the Robert Brock and Ogletree family trees.I would bet my Social Security benefits there’s a slave owner in there somewhere. If a company that merged with a company that bought a company with a lineage to a company that owned slaves is responsible for providing comfort, these gentlemen probably need to put up some support, too.

So when do reparations for historical acts become moot? Using the logic of proponents of slavery reparation payments, I could argue that one of your ancestors robbed, libeled, slandered, injured, killed, raped, maimed, harassed, oppressed, enslaved or discriminated against one of my ancestors and I should be compensated. It’s obvious the reason I don’t make millions today like Bill Gates or Tiger Woods is because of what your great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle did to my great-great-great … well, you get the picture. The reality is that who and what I am is primarily the result of what I have done or have failed to do, not what was done or not done by my mother or father (although they certainly contributed), my grandparents or my great-great-uncle Harry.

It’s time to take (and accept) personal responsibility for our lives and stop whining about something that happened 100 years before we were born, regardless of how heinous that event may have been.


California, Md.

‘Dubious theories’ about same-sex attraction

Without specifically identifying to whom he is referring, David S. Fishback obliquely mischaracterizes the position of former homosexuals and groups that represent them (“Sex-ed in the margin,” Letters, Wednesday). He disingenuously states that ” ‘dubious theories’ are those propagated by groups that cling to the long-since-rejected ideas that all homosexuals are diseased and can be ‘cured’ of the disease.”

This is simply untrue. Groups representing former homosexuals, such as Parents and Friends of Ex-gays and Gays (PFOX), have never taken the position that homosexuality is a disease or that people choose to have homosexual feelings.

The position taken by PFOX has always been that no one is born with same-sex attraction. We know that those feelings develop involuntarily because of a number of factors. Furthermore, we believe that a person with unwanted same-sex attraction may, with proper therapy, help and self-determination, come out straight. This is a view supported by many health care professionals, contrary to Mr. Fishback’s suggestion.

As president of PFOX’s board, a former homosexual who has been married for 23 years, father of three children, and a professional psychotherapist who has helped hundreds of men and women change from homosexual to straight, I know firsthand that people can change from homosexual to straight. There are, quite literally, thousands who have done so and are glad they did. I stand as one of them.


International Healing Foundation


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