Darfur killings meet tests for genocide

Jonathan Kolieb's insistence that "Darfur horrors aren't 'genocide'" (Opinion*Commentary, Dec. 16) rests on a misunderstanding of the difference between intent and motive.


He is right to insist that the 1948 Genocide Convention states that the mental element of the crime must be proved.

This mental element, as defined in Article 30 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, is comprised of intent and knowledge.


According to the statute, "A person has intent where: a) In relation to conduct, that person means to engage in the conduct; (b) In relation to a consequence, that person means to cause that consequence or is aware that it will occur in the ordinary course of events."

Knowledge is defined as "awareness that a circumstance exists or a consequence will occur in the ordinary course of events."

While it is arguable that Khartoum's motive in Darfur is one of counterinsurgency, the actions of the government and its proxy militia forces are clearly intentional, as well as known, and thus qualify as genocide.

Sean Lee

Beirut, Lebanon

The writer is an instructor at the American University of Beirut and a researcher in genocide studies.

War without end will not heal Iraq

Trudy Rubin provides detailed analysis of the Bush administration's occupation of Iraq ("U.S. finally has coherent Iraq policy, but future still murky," Opinion


Commentary, Dec. 18) and once again gives apprehensive support to the endless war, taking it as a given that the United States has a legitimate mission in Iraq.

Gen. David Petraeus has expressed cautious optimism in recent conversations with Ms. Rubin. However, the fact remains the Iraq invasion, fundamentally wrong from its inception, continues to be wrong as U.S. troops and Iraqis are needlessly maimed and killed.

Any lull in the carnage is likely to be in spite of the surge, not because of it. And Iraq is no closer to democracy than it was when our the self-proclaimed war president declared "Mission Accomplished" in 2003.

It is easy to foresee this war going on indefinitely as a low-intensity conflict with a diminished but continuing U.S. presence and with ongoing casualties, both U.S. and Iraqi.

But it would be in the best interest of the U.S. and its allies, as well as Iraq, to instead begin intense diplomatic efforts to stabilize Iraq, rebuild Iraq and its ruined infrastructure, provide asylum for displaced Iraqis and agree to a timetable to bring all U.S. forces home in a series of phased withdrawals.

Lee Lears



Torture isn't path to safety or sanity

I guess that I flunked the sanity test.

A recent letter writer asked "who in his or her right mind" would object to waterboarding Mohammed Atta on Sept. 10, 2001, to obtain information about the terror plots ("What if 9/11 halted with waterboarding?" Dec. 20). Well, I would object.

That is, I would object until we have a time machine that would allow us to waterboard people with the full benefit of perfect hindsight.

Then and only then would it become clear when extreme measures are justified and alternatives don't exist.


Without that benefit, we will be torturing people who might tell us something that they might know that might allow us to prevent something that otherwise might happen.

If we're willing to do that, the possibilities for use and misuse of this technique are endless.

We certainly won't make the world better, and probably won't even make it safer, if we go down that road.

Robert Jensen


State still indulges spendthrift habits


The Sun's article "Maryland is urged to rein in spending" (Dec. 19) explained that a committee of the General Assembly is urging the state to "rein in" spending and keep the increase in state spending next year to 4.27 percent.

The rate of inflation, as measured by the federal government, for the fiscal year ending Oct. 1 was 3.54 percent.

Yet political leaders in Annapolis want to "rein in" state spending to an increase of 4.27 percent?

It is exactly this cavalier, spend-spend-spend attitude that created the huge state shortfall that was used as the excuse to call a special session of the legislature last month to raise taxes in Maryland.

Only in Annapolis political double-speak can raising spending by considerably more than the rate of inflation be called "reining in" expenses.

Leslie Kuff



AIM program helps parents get involved

The League of Women Voters of Baltimore County supports the Articulated Instruction Module program because we have long believed that parental involvement with the schools is essential if the schools are to be successful in educating children ("Discord over progress reports," Dec. 11).

We support the program because parents in schools presently using AIM love AIM; they say that it is the only tool that lets them know exactly what their children are supposed to learn and what they have and have not learned.

The information the program provides enables parents to talk with their child about his or her specific learning difficulties. Parents also say that it gives them a basis upon which to have a more fruitful discussion with the teacher regarding their child's progress.

The league is always concerned with the children first.


And we believe that the AIM program will provide parents, teachers and administrators with valuable information that will enhance the quality of education for all of the students in Baltimore County.

Marjorie Slater-Kaplan


The writer is president of the Baltimore County League of Women Voters.

No lives are ruined by buprenorphine

As a physician and public health professional who has dedicated my career to improving the lives of those with addiction to heroin and other opiates, I read with dismay The Sun's articles on buprenorphine ("The 'bupe fix,'" Dec. 16-18). I have never seen a newspaper report so lacking in balance and context.


Every medication has side effects; what's critical is the balance of risks and benefits.

Buprenorphine is an effective treatment for the dangerous disease of opiate addiction. Balanced against the benefit of saving thousands of lives is the small risk of diversion of the drug, which is a tiny slice of the overall illegal drug trade.

It is telling that despite months of reporting and thousands of words, The Sun did not find a single person in Baltimore whose life has been ruined by buprenorphine.

Yet just walk the streets in East or West Baltimore and you can find scores of people whose lives are being ravaged by the condition that buprenorphine treats effectively.

It would be a tragedy if The Sun's hysteria over the diversion of buprenorphine turned back the clock on the treatment of a devastating disease.

Dr. Yngvild Olsen


Bel Air

The writer is the medical director of the Harford County Health Department and has done research on the medical use of buprenorphine.