Hold torture architects accountable | April 22, editorial
Opening the door to terrorists
The St. Petersburg Times forgot to mention it its editorial that President Barack Obama's national intelligence director, Dennis Blair, has stated that high-value information was obtained in interrogations that included harsh techniques. Apparently the Times doubts Blair's words but has no problem believing the New York Times, which has stated that the harsh measures produced no breakthroughs.
I can only conclude that liberal politicians, special interest groups, and the media have decided it is better to have 3,000 or so Americans killed in a terrorist attack than it is to use harsh techniques to get the information we need to keep us safe from terrorists.
I wonder if the people who died on 9/11 would have reached the same conclusion.
Louis Ciardulli, Safety Harbor
In a story that belonged on the front page, but which was relegated to the back (Justice memo shows greater use of waterboarding, April 20), it appears that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times by CIA interrogators in Thailand, and detainee Abu Zubaydah was subjected to it at least 83 times. According to the New York Times, a former CIA officer said that Zubaydah had given all the information he had after just 35 seconds of this torture, and the subsequent times revealed nothing new.
Japanese soldiers who had inflicted this panic-inducing, near-death experience on American POWs were sentenced to long prison terms at the Tokyo war crimes tribunal, but Bush administration officials allowed it to be done 183 times to one prisoner. And now our present president says it was okay because they were only carrying out orders.
That excuse was rejected at Nuremberg as well as at Tokyo, but since it works fine in America in 2009, what excuse is there for those who actually gave the orders? That is something that Obama and the corporate-controlled media prefer to ignore, hoping it will go away. Which, of course, this being America, it will.
R.G. Wheeler, St. Petersburg
Don't put America in that category
Where did my America go? I am a product of a generation whose people had respect for their country and what it stood for. I have always been proud to be called "American." Now, the powers that be are calling us a people who tortured, and are conveying this message to our enemies all over the world.
These same people should talk to any of our POWs. I'm sure they could tell them what torture is. Maybe they should remember the beheadings that have taken place not too long ago.
To put us in the same category, as if we were committing atrocities, is a grave insult to those of us who still love America. Mr. President, stand by America for the sake of the generations to come.
Iris Beckmann, Spring Hill
I have only contempt for the far-left Democrats who are horrified that a terrorist may have been "tortured" by being deprived of sleep or having bugs in his cell, but have no problems whatsoever with partial-birth abortion of innocent babies.
I also have diminished respect for a president who quickly reverses himself in order to not offend these people. Let's hope none of them ever have a loved one held captive overseas, while a knowledgeable conspirator is in our custody. Hand-wringing and "pretty please" won't get them released.
Peter Ford, Tierra Verde
Urge to punish torture builds | April 22, story
Stick to the economy
It's hard to miss the irony in this article about President Barack Obama's administration considering investigating President George W. Bush's administration for waterboarding al-Qaida prisoners. It's ironic, in that Obama has been courting Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, two detestable men who have practiced true and heinous torture on their own countrymen for many years.
While it is obvious Obama is playing to the Bush-Cheney hating side of his supporters and may be just sabre-rattling, it is a form of torture to the rest of us out here who just want the president and Congress to concentrate on the economic recession-soon-to-be-depression crises before us. For our country to be further polarized by a 9/11 type investigation at this crucial time is insane. While an investigation may serve as political payback and as a distraction for why the administration's economic cure is not working very well, it would be a much worse offense to Americans than waterboarding al-Qaida prisoners.
Sandy Hutton, Belleair
New Foundation is built on sand | April 20
A sudden peace
Columnist Charles Krauthammer claims that "The Obama administration is spending money like none other in peacetime history."
Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will be thrilled to learn that there is now peace in those countries and they can come home.
James Nelson, Largo
Agenda-fueled objections | April 21, letter
Why does the letter writer want to make it easier for the Republican dominated Florida Legislature to deny the right to vote to so many of Florida's citizens? My guess is that he's pretty sure most of those who would be purged from the rolls would likely lean "left" with their vote. The writer's support leans "right." No-brainer there.
The writer's opposition to the Stimulus Package naturally follows the Republican mantra of "Just Say No." Whether it's an editorial for fairness in elections or support for the president's agenda to reverse the disastrous condition the previous administration has left us, the writer's message is clear: "We lost and we're against everything/anything the other side, is for."
David M. Childress, Palm Harbor
Notable donor targets vaccine | April 22
Thank you for bringing this piece of disturbing legislation to my attention. I wrote my state senator, Arthenia L. Joyner, and my state representative, Michael Scionti, to encourage them to vote against this piece of legislation. I would not have known about it if not for you story. So, thank you.
But I'm also writing with a bit of criticism. In that story, Gary Kompothecras' claims were basically left unchallenged. A recent study in the journal Pediatrics found no link between thimerosal and autism. By not mentioning this you are doing your readers a huge disservice. To date, there is no scientific evidence to suggest vaccines cause autism.
If people like Kompothecras get their way, the result won't be a reduction in autism (autism rates are going up while thimerosal has been removed from childhood vaccines), but outbreaks of measles, as has already happened in the United States. Please do a good, scientific story on this topic. Educate the public, don't spread fear.
Dr. Ryan T. Cragun, Tampa
Helping kids get their lives back on track April 20, letter
Turning lives around
The letter from Frank Peterman Jr. says, "… the good news that our kids are overwhelmingly successful in turning their lives around." As a member of the Madeira Beach Middle School faculty I was able to witness that this week at the 24th Annual Pinellas County Turnaround Achievement Awards.
When I was thinking about what I would say about my student, I realized that all of his character traits that helped him to turn his life around — his ability to turn a negative into a positive, his work ethic, and his optimism — were qualities that a lot of adults don't have or maybe have forgotten. At that moment, I realized that I had learned more from by student than he had from me. Then I was fortunate enough to be able to listen and learn from 44 other Pinellas County school students who had also turned their lives around.
Yes, Mr. Peterman, I couldn't agree more. Our kids are unbelievably successful in turning their lives around. But you also said that "we need the active participation of our communities to bolster efforts to support their success." This event was sponsored by the generosity of Jerry and Kevin Krauss, and I would like to publicly thank them.
Debbie Elardi, Clearwater