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Torture of Terror Suspects: Necessary or Just Barbaric?

March 10, 2003

Jonathan Turley's March 6 commentary "Rights on the Rack" accuses the U.S. of participating in torture, closing with the statement that it amounts to "suicide for a nation once viewed as the very embodiment of human rights." Most Americans have been raised to believe that we must hold the high moral ground in any battle and remain faithful to the values this country was founded on. But it is a new day. Can we afford to be so high-minded that we allow more innocent people to die because of some antiquated code that was based on an entirely different kind of enemy?

With the greatest reluctance, we should be willing to resort to whatever means necessary to obtain intelligence on the activities of known terrorists. I do not want somebody interrogating the likes of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who is more concerned about his human rights than the right my child has to a full life. This is no time for an intellectual exercise on constitutional law or national hand-wringing over the treatment of people who would slit our children's throats with glee. One reason we won the Revolutionary War was because we were smart enough not to fight like the Redcoats. We have to be at least as smart today if we are going to prevent the slaughter of more innocents.

John Johnson

Encino

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French philosopher Albert Camus said, "I should like to be able to love my country and still love justice." I can think of no more appropriate response to the United States' use of torture in Afghanistan or the nauseating practice of shipping prisoners to other countries in an attempt to keep our hands clean.

I do not believe for one instant that torture is an American value, so who exactly does our government think it is representing with this policy?

It's time for Congress to show leadership. Reps. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys) and Tom Lantos (D-San Mateo) are the ranking Democrats on the International Relations Committee. It's time they used that seniority to call a press conference denouncing this policy and introduced legislation on the use of torture that reflects true American values.

Danielle Babineau

State Political Director

California Peace Action

Los Angeles

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For the March 6 letter writer who is worried about the terrorists being tortured during questioning, which America does not do, I have one question: How much were the victims of the World Trade Center tortured by their burns and injuries in the minutes, hours and days before they mercifully died?

Harold La More

Twentynine Palms

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