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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Supreme Court right to allow Oken execution

Congratulations to the U.S. Supreme Court for having the courage to uphold justice ("High court clears way for Oken execution," June 17).

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For too long, we have seen liberal judges letting convicted murderers go free or avoid the ultimate punishment.

The concern that Steven Oken might feel pain is ridiculous. The only "cruel and unusual punishment" is that which has been inflicted on the families of his victims - to say nothing of the victims themselves - who have had to wait years for this person to be exterminated.

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Sebastian Kurian

Towson

Cold-blooded killing is always wrong

In his column about the execution of Steven Oken, Dan Rodricks wrote, "Even the most dedicated death penalty opponents have a tough time standing up for this guy" ("Execution of justice - with a fatal flaw," June 13). But this misses the real point: Even in the case of Mr. Oken, the death penalty is dead wrong.

Cold-blooded killing is wrong - whether done by a thug in an alley, by a professional hit man in a country field or by the state in a sanitized room.

It is wrong to take a caged man, tie him down and shoot poison into him. This only imitates the actions of the murderer, which we claim to condemn. It serves no purpose except revenge, and it is wrong to reduce the state to a tool for revenge.

In addition, the man to be put to death is often not really the same person who committed the terrible crimes.

Terrence Fitzgerald

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Baltimore

If not death penalty, then life behind bars

I don't care whether a death row convict lives or dies, but I don't want that person ever to walk the streets again ("High court clears way for Oken execution," June 17).

Let's make "life in prison" really mean "life" - with no parole or pardon, ever.

Harold Screen

Parkville

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Cheney's charges now look baseless

The Sun reports that the bipartisan commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy has found "that Iraq and al-Qaida never developed a 'collaborative relationship'" in the lead-up to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon ("Al-Qaida rebuffed by Iraq in 1990s," June 17).

The commission's conclusion is the latest and most definitive pronouncement in a series of admissions (including the president's own) that no credible evidence exists to support the claim that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated in attacks against the United States.

Yet, as the article also reports, "as recently as Monday in a speech in Florida, [Vice President Dick] Cheney referred to Hussein's 'long established ties with al-Qaida.'"

Why would the vice president continue to say this? The best answers I can come up with are that Mr. Cheney, for personal reasons, needs to believe the fantasy he espouses, or, more likely, that he knows the administration's re-election fortunes demand the support of those American voters who desire to hold onto that fantasy.

Either way, there's a cloud looming over our democratic process.

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Joe Garonzik

Baltimore

Rejection of torture should be absolute

President Bush's response to a reporter's question at the recent economic summit in Sea Island, Ga., was most troubling.

When asked if under any circumstance he would authorize torture in interrogating suspected terrorists, he avoided a direct answer by saying that "we are a nation of laws" and suggesting that should be comforting to the questioner ("Not just a few bad apples," editorial, June 13).

In light of recently revealed Justice Department memos indicating that the constitutional authority of a president as commander in chief could empower him to override international laws prohibiting prisoner torture, I would have expected Mr. Bush's answer to be unequivocal: "Absolutely not."

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After the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, should we not expect our president to be very clear that under no circumstances does our country approve torture as a means of interrogation?

David L. Pollitt

Forest Hill

Multiculturalism nurtures our best

The column "A multicultural dream" (Opinion

Commentary, June 10) by University of Maryland graduate Katayoun "Katy" Deljoui contained perceptive and touching examples of the basis for American multiculturalism.

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It also showed the importance of including it in our system of education - education, from the Latin ex ducere, "to lead out": out of ignorance and out of the unexamined life, including chauvinism, prejudices and half-truths masquerading as knowledge.

Ms. Deljoui should know that there are many of us trying to fulfill her multicultural dream, for it speaks to what is best in America and what is uniquely American.

Jo-Ann Pilardi

Towson

The writer is a professor of philosophy and women's studies at Towson University.

Other families need support Reagans had

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We should respect Nancy Reagan for her devotion to her husband and be grateful to her for her promotion of stem cell research ("Seizing the moment," Opinion

Commentary, June 16). However, how many families with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's disease have both health insurance and the wherewithal to support 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week nursing care?

The supports that Mrs. Reagan had are something everyone should have.

Alzheimer's disease is no less easy to manage for people who are poor than for those more privileged.

Dr. John A. Talbott

Baltimore

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The writer is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Clintons' painter deserved a credit

It was offensive and belittling to artists everywhere not to see credit given to the artist who painted the portraits of the Clintons for the White House on The Sun's front page Tuesday ("Portraits bring Clintons back to White House," June 15).

The Sun clearly listed the name of the photographer beneath the photo recording the unveiling ceremony.

Yet neither in the caption nor in the article on Page 4A about the portrait ("White House adds Clintons' portraits," June 15) was there any mention or credit given to the artist who did the work being celebrated.

E. M. Waters

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Baltimore


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