The idea of coercive interrogation in the Oct. 19 article, "Torture of detainees? No. 'Coercion'? It depends," sounds like the Bush administration's spin. It seems the concept of the "modest use" of sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, and stress positions is a fabrication. These coercive interrogation techniques could be pushed to the limit to get information from suspected terrorists. And what do we gain by using these techniques? If coercive interrogation is really a useful and necessary tool to obtain accurate information from suspected terrorists, then we should greatly expand its use. We should encourage the FBI and local police departments to use these techniques to obtain information and confessions from suspected murderers and anyone else suspected of a heinous crime.
Or maybe we should remember the words of our Founding Fathers who, in their wisdom, explicitly outlawed the use of cruel and unusual punishments in the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. No society can condone coercive interrogation ("torture with compassion") and call itself civilized. If we have to legalize these techniques to win the war on terrorism, then our actions show that we are no better than the terrorists, and we will be judged as such.
Mill Creek, Wash.
Regarding the Oct. 20 article, "Taking on the veil: West looks to assimilation": Once traditional Muslim women are forced to visibly assimilate, who will we turn to next? Amish and Mennonites in the US who hold to traditional dress and behavior? As a modern, Orthodox, married, Jewish woman, I worry that my own hair covering could be next. A full face veil, a hijab, or a head scarf – none of these harm anybody in any way. They are ways of life for many women – ways of expressing modesty, piety, and, in the case of Jewish women who cover their hair, announcing their married status to the community.
I am offended that anybody would dare tell me how to dress when I go out into the community at large. The dress of a religious woman – be she Muslim, Jew, or Christian – is neither harmful nor offensive and should not be treated as such.
Regarding the Oct. 18 article, "US in a jam over what to do about traffic": I love my car when it gets me where I want to go safely and efficiently. But during commuting hours and on Fridays, I avoid driving at all costs. Getting workers from home to work and back is a mess in this country.
Every day, there are millions who drive the same route, traveling many miles all alone five days a week. This makes no sense when so many others are driving in the same direction every day. We have one of the highest incomes per capita in the world, but our increasing commutes decrease our quality of life.
It is in our nation's best interest to reduce our commutes. Take a look at the transit systems in countries such as Germany and Japan (granted, they are much denser); they have done a great job of giving citizens a transit choice. Heavily subsidized public transit, user-friendly biking and walking paths, high gas taxes, and expensive tolls discourage car use. It makes no sense that everyone has to pay for a freeway even if he or she never uses it! So make all freeways toll roads, increase taxes on gas (except for truckers, taxi drivers, etc.), and create a transit system with choices for all of us.
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