Is prisoner abuse justified in the war on terror?

Regarding Daniel Schorr's Sept. 3 Opinion piece "Reports in, US must act on Abu Ghraib": The continued attacks on the US Army by American journalists over the issue of prisoner abuse are tiresome and misplaced, especially in light of the horrible attack on the Russian school. The abuse of the Abu Ghraib prisoners pales in comparison to the killing of innocent children and, very frankly, if "abusing" one or more prisoners helps root out these merciless killers, then I, for one, favor torture.

During World War II, the US Army summarily executed German SS prisoners who were involved in the massacre of American GIs. There was no world outrage or condemnation directed at the US military, only a sense that a message had been sent to the enemy. We are in no less of a fight for survival now than in World War II. A few prisoners set upon by their guards is nothing compared with the brutality of our enemies and we need to see more of that in the media and less hand-wringing over prisoner "rights"!
Ron Waller
Kihei, Hawaii

Having just read Daniel Schorr's column, I am struck by the similarities to Vietnam. Though there are also many differences, it seems as if one could take the audio from John Kerry's testimony in 1971 and play it while showing the pictures of Abu Ghraib prisoners, and it would fit. I wonder what, if anything, we have learned, and how we can condemn one and not the other?

Looking back now on Mr. Kerry's service and his subsequent condemnation of the war but not the servicemen, it seems quite heroic for him to have shouldered responsibility for his actions in war. Unfortunately, it appears we have no one in the Bush administration who will step forward and shoulder their responsibility.
Rachel Vogelsang
Douglasville, Ga.

Perhaps Mr. Schorr should investigate the wartime conditions and environment of the soldiers who are now, and were earlier, guarding Abu Ghraib.

The stresses of combat or being in a hostile environment may cause aberrant behavior in any group of soldiers, even US troops.

The egregious conduct of some soldiers and the poor leadership of some officers at Abu Ghraib prison is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The US Army may indeed impose disciplinary and/or punitive measures upon those soldiers who failed in their duty and responsibility. Every member of the US Army must acknowledge, commit to memory, and adhere to strict rules of engagement with the enemy.

The unfortunate treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, however, is a marked and dramatic exception to the general behavior of American soldiers in Iraq.
H. Kurt Gillies
Concord, N.H.

Fatherhood, again: Just as great

I really enjoyed reading the Sept. 1 article "Men decide it's never too late to have kids." I became a father for the first time at 28, and enjoyed every minute of it. The years seemed to fly by. By the time my youngest had left home, I was not nearly ready to stop being a fulltime dad. Fortunately, my wife was of the same opinion, and we decided that we wanted to start over. We were able to adopt a newborn that renewed our chance to be parents again.

While some of my men friends think what we did was crazy, I encourage those fathers and mothers who are not ready for the empty nest to seriously consider opening their homes and their lives all over again.

I enjoy coming home and having to move the trike and sports equipment out of my driveway. I smile when I find goldfish crackers spread around the kitchen floor. I might grumble, but I also give thanks.
Neil Tift
Stillwater, Minn.

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