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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Iraqi Treatment of American Captives

March 27, 2003

I am so grateful to see Erwin Chemerinsky (Commentary, March 25) point out the glaring hypocrisy of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's complaint that Iraq violates international law by distributing video of American prisoners of war.

The willingness of our president to flout, dismiss or ignore multiple treaties and several centuries of hard-won international accords is perhaps the most terrifying aspect of this administration and this war. The rule of law in international affairs can sometimes be expensive and messy enough to try even the patience of seasoned diplomats, but the benefits probably outweigh the costs. I pray my country does not have to relearn this lesson the hard way.

Margaret Hamilton

Cerritos

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If I had been taken prisoner in Vietnam during my service in the Marine Corps, I would have welcomed someone filming my presence and recording my name, rank, service number and date of birth. I would be encouraged if that film showed up on international TV. That would provide some assurance to me that I would probably be seen again and not just be shot, buried and added to a list of missing in action.

But these thoughts would not occur to Rumsfeld because like most in this administration, except Secretary of State Colin Powell, he has never seen combat or been put at risk for this country. It would also be best if Rumsfeld refrained from reminding the world about the Geneva Convention while we hold war prisoners in Guantanamo without those protections. I hope that Saddam Hussein adheres to rules of war that this administration finds to be "old."

Richard Gillock

Costa Mesa

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It has been reported that Al Jazeera television has broadcast a video showing the bodies of captured U.S. soldiers, including some who had been shot in the head. Since I don't receive that channel on my TV, can someone please tell me if they are also showing our coalition soldiers giving food and water to starving Iraqi troops they captured? Are they showing local villagers tearing down pictures of Hussein upon arrival of U.S. troops? Just wondering.

Bob Rona

Culver City

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News reports rightfully condemn Iraq for airing video footage of U.S. POWs and slain soldiers, a violation of the Geneva Convention. It is equally abhorrent and just as much a violation for U.S. television networks to broadcast this same footage, edited or not.

Scott Bentley

Malibu

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Bush is concerned that the Russians may have violated U.N. sanctions by supplying arms to Iraq (March 25)? The Pentagon's Victoria Clarke finds it "despicable" that the Iraqis are using guerrilla tactics, violating the laws of war (March 25)?

Since when did we care about the U.N.? Let's not be so brainwashed by our government's "psy-ops" that we believe that all Iraqis are going to lay down their arms and welcome our military. After all, we are invading their country, destroying their buildings and killing them.

Adam T. Colson

Los Angeles

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