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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about conditions at Guantánamo, why Republicans must rethink their ideas about economics, and whether a stimulus will really help the faltering US economy.

February 10, 2009



Guantánamo prisoners are treated fairly by the US

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Regarding the Feb. 3 article, "Will the US adjust life at Guantánamo for detainees?": This article is misleading and inaccurately depicts conditions at Guantánamo. Far from being in solitary confinement, detainees at Guantánamo communicate freely among themselves. All compliant detainees are afforded four hours of outdoor recreation daily; noncompliant detainees receive two. Exercise yards are enclosed by chain-link fencing and do not restrict movement, as the story suggests. All detainees are offered a Koran and prayer caps, beads, and rugs. Five times daily, silence is maintained throughout the camps to observe the call to prayer, which is led by a detainee-appointed prayer leader in each block. Detainees have access to a library of more than 13,000 books, magazines, and DVDs, which are distributed weekly. Detainees are permitted to go on a hunger strike if they so choose; it is not a disciplinary infraction. We monitor all detainees' health closely as part of our mission to care for them safely and humanely.

It does a disservice to your readers and to our outstanding service members that no Joint Task Force Guantánamo or Department of Defense officials are cited in this article to either corroborate or clarify the information presented.

Rear Admiral David M. Thomas Jr.

Commander, Joint Task Force Guantánamo

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Republicans must rethink economics

In regard to the Feb. 3 article, "GOP has a new face; brand has far to go": In this article, one Republican says his party should ask, "What are the barriers for middle-class people who want to get ahead?" As a former Republican, I would say the biggest barrier is the Republican Party itself.

I have twice watched Republican leaders apply their theory of trickle-down economics, mostly through tax cuts for the wealthy, and both times the economy went down in flames. Yet the GOP still insists that the theory is sound.

The problem with giving tax breaks to the people at the top is that only part of the money trickles down into new jobs for a short-term economic boost. Most of the money circulates at the top, making the rich richer, but leaving consumers with less money to spend.

On the other hand, the maligned concept of "redistribution of wealth," taxing the wealthy and spending it on common public needs, puts more money in the hands of consumers who keep the economy moving. This enables companies to sell more goods and services, create more jobs, and become more profitable. In this circular process, everyone wins.

James B. Toy
Seaside, Calif.

Will a stimulus really help?

Regarding the Feb. 9 Opinion piece, "Instead of stimulus, do nothing – seriously": This was a great commentary. Thanks for putting it in. The free market position needs to be heard more.

Erik Anderson
Shoreline, Wash.

Just to "do nothing" to get the economy moving is not the answer. America's culture of greed has brought us to the economic plight we find ourselves in today. When money is hoarded and does not move through the economy, that's what brings on a depression. In a spirit of generosity, those who are hoarding their money should free enough of it up to allow the money to start moving through the economy. It is in their best interest to do so, as well as in the best interest of everyone else.

Paul L. Whiteley, Sr.
Louisville, Ky.

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