Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the function of torture, oil as a motive for war, and the death penalty.

Torture is necessary in special cases

In response to Alison Brysk's Nov. 14 Opinion piece, "Torture doesn't work": The professor lays claim to the one-fix-cures-all syndrome. While torture is to be condemned in general, room should be left for the instances in which application of extreme measures is necessary. Like the professor's problem with "torture," the definition lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Jailing can be considered a form of torture, as can extensive durations of questioning.

On the other hand, the "theoretical" case of an individual knowing all the facts concerning a possible terrorist event is not far-fetched. Someone must be the mastermind. Given that 2,800-plus people died on 9/11, and one of the perpetrators was in hand before the event, what would any person do?

Legal theory is nice, even useful sometimes, but when push comes to shove there are choices to be made and the people on the scene must act.

Paul Michaelis
Watchung, N.J.

The motive for war: oil

Regarding Walter Rodgers's Oct. 16 Opinion piece, "The folly of war with Iran," Mr. Rodgers has amply laid out his arguments on the basis of widely accepted historical precedence and perils of wars (in general and with Iran). He mentioned the wisdom of noble US presidents such as Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy who were truly concerned about the loss of life and liberty of the Americans and others.

As far as the wisdom and cause of war are concerned, we know of late that President Mr. Bush is no Lincoln. Bush and his close advisers are mainly concerned about the vast income from the extension, propagation, and continuation of the "military-industrial complex" of the US, against which the wise President Eisenhower had warned more than half a century ago.

However noble, practical, and peace-purveying the advice of Rodgers may be, this administration has its eyes on the prize – spoils of unending wars in the world, especially in the oil-rich Muslim countries.

Ifat Shah

Purpose behind the death penalty

In response to the Nov. 2 article, "States likely to delay executions until ruling": There is no humane way to put a person to death.

The assumption is that a human condemned for a heinous crime against humanity deserves to be punished in a way that makes everyone feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, feeling comfortable that you have given them the easiest possible punishment is a direct contradiction of "punishment." It is not supposed to be easy on the person whose crime warrented the punishment. Nor is it supposed to be easy on those who must make the decision.

Punishment for crimes must be harsh, and jail time must be something to be avoided.

This country has tried for decades to present a more enlightened view of punishment and rehabilitation; for its efforts, it has suffered overcrowded prisons, the highest crime rate in the world, and an overall failure of the system.

When the rights of the criminal supersede those of the law-abiding citizen, when a criminal's punishment is worried over to the exclusion of making that person actually feel punished, we have failed as lawmakers and as citizens.

Punishment must be feared for it to work.

And this country has failed miserably in this, across the board.

Steve Emmons

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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