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Both sides' actions are questionable

May 31, 2007

Re "Prisoner of Tehran," Opinion, May 25

I sincerely hope that public recognition and response result in Haleh Esfandiari's release. As I read this article, I thought: Has this not been what the Bush administration has been doing with "persons of interest"? Especially with the tortuous story of her supposed part in the conspiracy to foment a "velvet" revolution, which could be the story of many of the people who have been detained by the U.S. under the guise of "protecting national security." At least at this point, Iran has not resorted to extraordinary rendition, although it probably doesn't have to under its laws.

Perhaps this is also a veiled message to the Bush administration. In addition to working for Esfandiari's release through diplomatic channels, I hope that our Congress restores some of the basic human rights that have been stripped away in this country.


Salem, Mass.


Shaul Bakhash's article describes the arrest of Esfandiari and what might be meted out to her by the Iranian government. It's a shame that this can happen to anyone with a conscience speaking out against injustices. Doesn't it also remind one of what the U.S. is doing to terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, where reports of torture to obtain confessions abound, and all of the detainees have been held for so many years without trial?

Our hearts go out to Esfandiari, and we hope that her ordeals will come to an end, just as much as the ordeals of so many Guantanamo inmates.


Dhaka, Bangladesh


Whether by coincidence or design, there's an exquisite irony in the two articles running side by side on the May 25 Op-Ed page. Bakhash calls on us to share his sense of outrage that the Iranians are mistreating his wife by "blindfolding, solitary confinement and harsh, even brutal interrogation."

Next to it, Rosa Brooks ("The good, the bad and the prosecuted," Opinion) draws our attention to the conviction and sentencing of Lt. Cmdr. Matthew M. Diaz, who was accused of "aiding enemies of the United States and endangering U.S. troops." His criminal act: He leaked information on the detainees in Guantanamo, who were subjected to similar, horrific treatment.

The difference in these two stories seems to be that it takes years for us to learn how we treat our enemies but only weeks to discover how our enemies treat us. Given that neither our nor the Iranian leadership appear to be holding the moral high ground, it would be nice to imagine that both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and President Bush could be persuaded to stop posturing and start negotiating. Unfortunately, the two men seem to have too much in common.


Laguna Beach

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