The Baltimore Sun

Closing Guantanamo doesn't go far enough

As someone who has been arrested with Witness Against Torture while calling for the closure of the notorious prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I was elated to read that President Barack Obama is listening and responding ("'The United States will not torture,' Obama says," Jan. 23). Mr. Obama's executive orders include the closure of "black" sites and an end to the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by the CIA at Guantanamo and other prisons, and that's also a good thing.

However, I must express some concerns.

The Guantanamo prison should not remain open for a year but closed immediately. Some prisoners can be transferred to U.S. soil, and those already cleared should be sent home or to other countries willing to accept them.

Many detainees, like Bosnian national Lakhdar Boumediene, have been illegally detained for more than six years without being charged.

There should be no U.S. detention facilities that hold anyone without due process. And both the prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq must be closed as well.

In addition, we the people must know the full truth about our government's interrogation and detention program and who authorized and carried it out. This calls for a special prosecutor or independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the U.S. government in its "war on terror."

Anyone involved in human rights violations must be held responsible.

Max Obuszewski


Shutting the prison is the right objective

Rep. Peter Hoekstra criticizes President Barack Obama's executive order closing the Guantanamo Bay prison because it "sets an objective without a plan to get there" ("'The United States will not torture,' Obama says," Jan. 23).

This argument is profound in its absurdity.

Would the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee suggest that we formulate plans before we define an objective?

That does not seem very intelligent.

Richard Corfield, Ellicott City

Pelosi's response was merely mean

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's complete lack of humanity was evident when she stated that a favorite moment of the inauguration was seeing George W. Bush's helicopter lifting off, signifying his exit from Washington.

She said, "It felt like a 10-pound anvil was lifted off my head."

Her unnecessary comment was mean-spirited, uncompassionate and intolerant.

Sophia Montgomery, Perry Hall

Bush also allowed the 9/11 attacks

I have seen letters in this newspaper and heard other people arguing that former President George W. Bush deserves credit for the absence of any terrorist attacks within our borders since 9/11 (e.g., "Other achievements bolster Bush's record," letters, Jan. 21). This is a completely illogical assertion.

I understand the desire to give Mr. Bush credit for something positive considering all of the administration's failures.

However, if we are to assert that the administration succeeded in preventing terrorist attacks in the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks, we must logically also note that the administration failed to prevent the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

But if the president could not have prevented, and therefore is not to blame for, the attacks of 9/11, then simple reasoning dictates that he does not deserve credit for the absence of further attacks.

We can't have it both ways.

Neil Cohen, Towson

Can the young fulfill promise of new era?

Dan Rodricks' column "A president and a role model - a two-fer" (Jan. 20) was powerful and encouraging. And with Barack Obama as our president, I too hope our young people will have a role model in Washington.

In the mass of humanity on the Mall for the inauguration, let's remember how many people were young and excited about what was happening. They see this as a new beginning.

I'm in my seventies and even I see that opportunity in our future. But it's our young people who must fulfill that hope.

I just pray that they will have the strength to persevere and continue their enthusiasm.

John Ray, Baltimore

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