The Baltimore Sun

Don't compromise fundamental rights

We cannot allow the Senate and the Bush administration to rewrite the law in a way that will deny any individual the protection guaranteed by the writ of habeas corpus ("America's detainees face grave injustice," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 22).

The writ of habeas corpus has existed at least since the signing of the Magna Carta.

Most Americans have lived with all of the rights, privileges and blessings of the Declaration of Independence and our constitutional law since the beginning of our history.

We have now spent more than $300 billion and lost countless lives to "advance the cause of liberty" (as President Bush is fond of saying) in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

All of the lives lost and money spent will be, in effect, lost a second time if we do not insist that every individual is granted the protection of the writ of habeas corpus.

Herb Clark


How can we think of tolerating torture?

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, the bad guys were the Communists.

We knew they were the bad guys because they spied on their own citizens and they had secret prisons, secret court trials with secret evidence and detention centers where people were kept for years without a trial and were tortured and treated cruelly.

What has happened to this country today?

I don't understand how we can even be considering legislation that would permit some of these things --- let alone dealing with a situation in which they have already been done by executive order ("American standard," editorial, Sept. 24).

This is profoundly, horrifically un-American.

It needs to stop, or there won't be any Americans left to protect from the terrorists: just a bunch of people who live north of Mexico and south of Canada.

Victoria G. Laidler


Fight the good fight to vanquish jihad

After reading "Agencies say war is spreading terrorism" (Sept. 25), what I believe is really spreading radicalism is the possibility we may remove our troops from Iraq.

The jihadists listen to our news, read our papers and, worst of all, listen to the far-left politicians screaming for an end to the war.

Of course, the radicals step up their violence because they see that we might not have the stomach to continue the fight.

They have already turned the tide in Spain by ratcheting up violence. The jihadists succeeded in changing the government there after the attacks on Madrid's train system.

The radical Islamists will not give up until they have taken over the world. They use our own words against us.

The answer is not to scale back our troops in Iraq. The answer is to continue fighting until the world is safe from jihad.

The lives of our people and those in the rest of the civilized world are what is at stake here.

We need to continue to fight the good fight.

Abby Richmond


Uniting to defend president's honor

After the nonsensical remarks by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to the United Nations, it did my heart good to see President Bush's fiercest opponents come to his defense ("Chavez tells U.N. Bush is 'the devil,'" Sept. 21).

This illustrates that we, as Americans, can agree to disagree. It shows a depth of character to defend someone you disagree with when they are unfairly attacked.

Cheers to Rep. Charles B. Rangel, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Their behavior is a reminder, in a nasty election season, that there is more that unites us than divides us.

Ray O'Brocki


Will governor deal with benefits debt?

Reading The Sun's article "Huge bill is coming due for public employees' benefits" (Sept. 25), I was taken aback to learn of the $20 billion in unfunded benefits liabilities that the state faces.

I wonder if Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. can take a minute from bashing Baltimore and its mayor and address what his plan of action is to retire this enormous debt.

Tony Oleszczuk

Bel Air

Pope's non-apology just isn't adequate

It was good to read that someone shares my opinion that many public "apologies" are inadequate ("The sorry state of public apologies," Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 25). But my conclusion doesn't quite concur with those of the writer.

As he said, not every statement that includes the words "I'm sorry" qualifies as an apology, and an apology requires a direct and specific admission that the speaker did or said something wrong.

I agree that from politicians and drunken actors, the "I'm sorry you feel that way, but I am not responsible for your feelings" sort of statement is about all we can expect, so we might as well take what they give and walk away.

But from the spiritual leader of 900 million Catholic believers, the "I'm sorry if ... " statement of Pope Benedict XVI cannot be accepted as an apology.

It suggests that his original quote was right and just -- that the offended parties do not deserve redress.

Let us hope that the meetings His Holiness has called with Islamic leaders will give them the opportunity to elicit a genuine apology, one that might stand as a current example for others whose words and actions cause offense, rather than just another public figure's non-apology apology.

Thaddeus Paulhamus


Bikers share blame for danger on roads

In response to the letter "Accept motorcycles as viable vehicles" (Sept. 16), I say, let's be fair. There are bad drivers on the road driving all sorts of vehicles. Please don't make it sound like motorcyclists are just innocent victims.

I drive on Interstate 695 between Towson and Owing Mills every day and see my fair share of motorcyclists exceeding the speed limit, swerving in and out of traffic and cutting off drivers of cars.

About two weeks ago, I witnessed, on the same stretch of road, approximately 10 motorcycle riders doing no less than 100 miles per hour swerving past cars.

Motorcyclists need to share the blame and responsibility for the bad drivers on the road -- just like the rest of us.

Dave Shimek


Be thankful to age into 'chicken neck'

In response to Nora Ephron's book and Susan Reimer's recent column on the horrors of aging ("As they age, women learn: Necks don't lie," Sept. 17), I have to say that my own mother never, ever developed a "chicken neck."

I am 47 years old, and to this day, when I look at pictures of my mother's face, it still looks relatively youthful and beautiful.

That's because she died one month after her 50th birthday, never having seen all of her children grow up or gotten to meet her grandchildren.

If I live so long as to see my own children grow into adulthood and meet my grandchildren, I will look in the mirror at my "chicken neck" and thank my lucky stars.

Jo Anne Klimek


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