Terror trials out of N.Y. | April 5
Military well equipped for terror trials
Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to try the 9/11 defendants at Guantanamo. He stated that he has been forced to do this by Congress. He has suggested that military judges and prosecutors lack the experience of federal prosecutors and judges in trying criminal cases and have never tried death penalty cases.
I was a Connecticut Superior Court judge for 30 years and tried numerous murder cases. A murder is usually an assault with a bad ending and requires no more skills to try than the assault. The rules of evidence are the same.
After serving as an Air Force pilot, I spent 20 years in the Reserves as an Air Force judge advocate, and I resent Holder's demeaning military judges and prosecutors. Federal prosecutors, including Holder, are usually appointed because of political connections, with more time in party politics than the courtroom. And many have never tried a criminal case, whereas military lawyers, immediately after commissioning, are trying criminal cases as prosecutors and defense attorneys. They are true professionals with more experience trying criminal cases in five years than the average civilian lawyer in a lifetime.
Holder owes an apology to our military lawyers.
Harold H. Dean, St. Petersburg
They will regulate it, but not say it | April 6, Sue Carlton column
Preserving human life
Women who talk about the right to obtain "safe and legal abortions," as the Times’ Sue Carlton twice repeated in her recent column, do not speak for me. It is the law that you can get an abortion in this state. But does that mean that you should? This nation was founded on individual responsibility and morality through religion.
Where is the "twisted logic" of having a woman see for her own eyes the life she is asking a doctor to take out of her? How is conducting an ultrasound, so the mother can fully comprehend the magnitude of her decision, an "attack" on her rights? I am tired of listening to people cry out for the government to regulate everything from business to education, but then chastise it when it shows an interest in the preservation of human life.
Having an abortion should truly be an emotionally taxing and intimately personal decision. I want every woman considering abortion to go through the ultimate emotional hardship of looking deep into her heart, asking herself what she truly believes is inside her womb and who that baby could become. If having her look at the ultrasound is viewed as an attack, a guilt trip, so be it.
Kimberly Snodgrass, Clearwater
This column says the proposed law would require an "unnecessary and costly" ultrasound before an abortion. Actually, ultrasounds are often necessary to detect dangerous ectopic pregnancies, which are on the rise and are not ended by abortion. They are also available free of charge at pregnancy centers throughout the state.
When I had my wisdom teeth out, I had to watch a rather disturbing 10-minute video about what happens during the surgery, possible risks and complications, etc. The purpose was not to "shame" me into keeping those teeth. If abortion is really just like any other procedure, why the aversion to the same types of regulations for informed consent?
Katherine Bergmann, Dunedin
Guilt and remorse
This law is not about punishing women who seek abortions. It's about making sure they know what they are doing. Some women experience unbearable guilt after an abortion when they realize what they've done. It's not about the expense of an ultrasound. Most women who can afford insurance are covered under their maternity benefits. Those who can't afford insurance are usually covered under free pregnancy health care. Prolife clinics provide services for the rest.
While the proposal may seem bad to someone who would rather remain ignorant, it is a good law for others who would be tormented by what they have done once they come to understand that it was not just a blob of tissue.
Donna Jeziorski, Tampa
Apparently the Florida Legislature has ample time on their hands to meddle in the private lives of women by requiring mandatory ultrasounds. Since "knowledge is never a bad thing," perhaps the Legislature should require gun purchasers to view pictures of bullet-ridden bodies and view antigun documentaries in order to make more "informed decisions" on whether or not to purchase.
The Florida legislative body of "less government intrusion" should at least be fair and balanced and spread their insight and wisdom into all aspects of our lives.
Philip Steinfeld, Seminole
Resume BP drilling in gulf? Not so fast April 7, editorial
The Times rightly urges caution about allowing BP to reopen drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and wants to hear how the company has improved its production and safety methods. However, considering our government's own anemic response to this disaster, I think we should also demand to hear how the federal government will be changing its response to future ocean-based oil spills.
If a forest fire starts, the firefighters of the U.S. Forest Service spring into action, but if there is an oil spill, we have no similar response. Instead of posing for pictures on oil-stained beaches while threatening BP, our lawmakers should get to work on how they are going to improve the federal response to the next spill.
Jeffrey Lahm, St. Petersburg
Parents protest cuts to agency | April 7
Not as old as all that
The lead sentence in this story used the phrase "the little old lady" in describing one of the parents at the rally for the disabled in Tallahassee. From this information, I assumed that she was in her late 70s or 80s. I was surprised to read a few more paragraphs and discover she was merely 65. Did her short stature have anything to do with her role as a speaker? Would the reporter describe her as a fat old lady if she had been overweight?
So now I am wondering: At what age is a person considered an old lady or an old man? There is currently a great political push in Washington to raise the age of eligibility for Social Security benefits. There are also scores of Americans over the age of 65 who continue to work for a myriad number of reasons.
I am 66 and petite. Does this make me a little old lady? I neither look nor feel old. Neither do any of my friends, many of whom are not yet retired. They include physicians, engineers, architects, lawyers, judges and journalists. Many are also avid snow skiers, bicyclists, joggers, swimmers and world travelers. Perhaps your young reporters need to change their thinking as to what constitutes an old person. After all, it's only a matter of time and public perception before they are old themselves.
Christine R. Vaughn, Belleair Bluffs