LETTERS: Government abandons principles by torturing war prisoners

To the editor:

The U.S. signed the Geneva Conventions to prevent a repetition of the atrocities that were committed against prisoners of war in past conflicts. Now we find that torture has been redefined as “enhanced interrogation techniques” by the CIA and our government. In our desperation to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, our government chose to abandon our principles by using the argument that the ends justify the means.

The vice president of our country at the time, Dick Cheney, espoused the philosophy that we must become the barbarian to beat the barbarian. To think that this country was a heartbeat away from having a lunatic in the office of the presidency is more frightening than any consequence of a terrorist attack.

The object of war is to kill the enemy. We should not have resorted to torture. We should have resorted to the extermination of every individual who took part in the planning, financial support and execution of the 9/11 attacks. We should have taken no prisoners. Our torture of prisoners will only result in putting American servicemen in grave danger. Americans captured in future conflicts can be assured that they will be the next victims of atrocities at the hands of their captors.

As an American, I no longer have a reason to believe a single thing that my government espouses. Both parties, the CIA and the two highest office holders in the country have lied concerning every aspect of the torture operations. Torture is wrong, and so are the people who believe it extracts useful information.

JAMES F. REILLY

NORTH LAS VEGAS

Show trials

To the editor:

John Guzman, in his letter about white police officers not being charged in the killings of black suspects, writes, “All the people want is for the officers to have their day in court, so a jury of their peers can decide if the officers are guilty or not.” (“Protesters want justice,” Dec. 16 Review-Journal). Please do not include me as one of his “people.”

What Mr. Guzman is requesting is a show trial — a judicial trial held in public with the intention of influencing or satisfying public opinion. For true justice to occur, a prosecutor must possess enough evidence to support a reasonable belief that the defendant committed the crime. This is not as high a standard as guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but it is still a relatively high bar.

Thus, a prosecutor has an ethical and moral obligation to not prosecute if he does not have a reasonable belief that a crime has occurred and that the accused is the person who committed the crime. If he brings charges when he reasonably believes that the evidence shows the accused has met the requirements for self-defense, or the death occurred during lawful acts by the officer for the purpose of satisfying “the people,” that is the very definition of a show trial.

JOHN M. MCGRAIL

LAS VEGAS

Culture is the issue

To the editor:

Following the riots in Ferguson, Mo., precipitated by the killing of a young black man by a white police officer, the race haters came out of the woodwork, claiming a divide between whites and blacks in this country. Race-baiters such as Al Sharpton jump on these situations with the intent to mine the gold of racial hatred. That’s where such people make their living, in front of the news cameras, demanding justice — or what they consider justice.

Then, when the riots start and businesses of innocent merchants are burned to the ground, these people disappear back under their rocks and let the thugs and miscreants make their arguments for them in fire and blood. But do these types of events represent a racial animosity in this country? Or are our differences with hoodlums and thugs more cultural than racist?

It’s not race that separates Americans. It’s culture. Since 1965, we have poured billions of dollars into the black community in the form of welfare, food stamps, disability, rent subsidies, job programs and handouts. Yet black poverty continues to grow. More black people live in poverty now than ever before in this country. So how can that be after the incredible capital infusion that has been invested in those communities? Because people like Mr. Sharpton make a lucrative living on convincing people they are oppressed by the evil white empire, that they are trapped in their economic quagmire because of it.

Racism is just the label these race-baiters use to further their own goals and feather their own nests. Until we find a way to get those people invested in our culture, until we muzzle the histrionics of the race-baiters, this cultural chasm will continue to widen. And Al Sharpton and people like him will continue to encourage that widening.

RICK AINSWORTH

HENDERSON

Resisting arrest

To the editor:

Michael Brown, the strong-armed young man in Ferguson, Mo., resisted arrest and assaulted a police officer. As for Eric Garner in New York, he resisted arrest, and the grand jury was shown that he wasn’t placed in a choke hold; it was a headlock, just as that police officer said.

I was a police officer, and I was trained in this. Were it a choke hold, he would not have been able to speak, he would be choking. Notice that when he said he couldn’t breathe — 11 times — he was breathing. And the last six times he said it, that officer wasn’t even touching him. Don’t resist arrest. Doing so endangers the police officer. Just do what the nice police officer says.

JERRY STURDIVANT

LAS VEGAS

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