Make us your home page
Letters to the Editor

Torture yields unreliable information

CIA and torture

Torture produces unreliable information

As a retired CIA intelligence analyst, I am appalled by the use of torture both because it is morally wrong and against our international obligations, but also because one cannot trust any information or confessions gained by these methods.

Have we not learned from prohibitions on our police departments concerning false confessions gained by forcible interrogations? Have we not learned from our own soldiers and airmen who, when tortured, using the very same methods that the CIA employed, by the Chinese, North Koreans, and Vietnamese, confessed to false atrocities? Have we learned nothing from history?

During the Inquisition there were many confessed witches, and many others were named by those tortured as other witches. Unsurprisingly, when these new claimed witches were tortured, they also confessed. Confirmation of some statement made under torture, when that confirmation is extracted by another case of torture, is invalid information and cannot be trusted.

All the claims by the Bush administration of preventing additional terror attacks on the United States because of information gained by torture are unsubstantiated because of the methods used that can mostly gain false information and falsely "confirm" the same information.

Have we learned to simply ignore our own Constitution and forgotten the reasons certain acts are forbidden in it? I spent more than 20 years attempting to provide the best information available to my government so that accurate decisions could be made to keep this nation safe. For the past eight years, garbage decisions were made on the basis of garbage information. I feel betrayed.

Yes. Prosecute all who participated. "I was just following orders" is not and never was a valid excuse!

Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg

Torture has no place in our great nation

One pillar of our country is capitalism, where the marketplace determines the value of goods and the utility of services. Another is democracy, where individuals are able to express themselves and have individual, God-given (human) rights. Where the two intersect leads to this great nation. Where does torture fit in? Well, it doesn't.

Coerced confessions obtained while inflicting pain with the prospect of death only lead the individual to simply provide whatever the demanding party seeks. It is simply a matter survival. The end result is the immediate production of unreliable information that wastes valuable assets and, in the long term, results in our country's inability to improve human rights internationally. Leadership cannot produce a torture manual and then go worldwide with a successful human rights campaign. It's a conflict in values that everyone should have anticipated, yet, at the highest levels of government, something failed.

It is difficult to hold previously elected officials legally responsible for their discretionary actions, yet it's hard to place this behind us.

Stuart Berney, Tampa

Prosecution is needed

Our government under the leadership of George W. Bush tortured detainees and prisoners. These crimes have placed our military personnel, diplomats and foreign travelers in harm's way. We have provided those who choose to do us harm a recruiting tool beyond their wildest dreams.

We must prosecute these crimes at all levels to remove this stain upon our country's image. An open and honest accounting is the only way to safeguard our troops and diplomats. We owe this to those who give so much to serve us. We can be a shining light to others if we atone for our mistakes and make right what went wrong.

Brad Hunter, Clearwater

Better ways to raise money for schools March 30, editorial

Internet tax a job killer

Your recent editorial about proposals to apply new sales collection rules to small Internet retailers misses the point. These measures would force small retail businesses across the state of Florida, and the country, to comply with complex tax laws and tax collectors in every state. Many small Internet retailers would close their doors, killing jobs and cheating consumers out of the benefits of small business competition with mega-retail chains.

Internet sales tax supporters fail to mention that the small retail businesses that use the Internet to reach customers around the country (and overseas, I might add) include many local small business people. Many thousands of small Internet retailers are doing business right in Florida.

Allowing out-of-state tax administrators to treat small retailers with dozens of employees the same as a megaretailer with hundreds of accountants and tax professionals is a recipe for disaster. Complying with the sales tax regimes of every state will impose significant new costs. In short, treating the smallest retailers like giant corporations is a certain "antistimulus plan" that will kill local jobs.

Tod Cohen, deputy general counsel for government relations, eBay

Bills would create system to track prescription drugs | April 21

Remember those in pain

I grant you that there are plenty of dangerous drugs on the market. I don't know the answer to the question, but I do know that people in chronic pain will hasten to die quicker because they can no longer get the medicine they need to make life bearable. It is a shame that these folks are not in the equation.

I have seen the Drug Enforcement Administration up close, and it's not working to your benefit. But there are solutions to the problem. For example, have doctors double-check their patients. I do know that taking sick and hurting persons' medication away will not help. It will speed up the death rate.

Please don't kill us any faster. Too much salt can kill you; too much aspirin can kill you. Let's use our heads. The old knee-jerk reaction — do something even if it's wrong — won't work here.

Charles H. Eure, St. Petersburg

Of God, the devil and license plates April 25, story

Buy a bumper sticker

It is ridiculous enough that our state already has more than 100 different license plates complicating the jobs of law enforcement officers everywhere, but now the ever-annoying Ronda Storms and company want to add religious icons to the mix. If Sen. Storms, Sen. Gary Siplin and the rest of their flock so urgently feel the need to tell the world about their personal religious beliefs, let them buy a bumper sticker. Religious symbols have no place on a state-issued license plate.

With all the serious problems facing our state this is the kind of foolishness our lawmakers spend their time deliberating about? We can undoubtedly look forward to more state government time (i.e. taxpayers' money) being wasted when the legality of these stupid plates is challenged in court.

Duane Bitter, Dunedin

Of God, the devil and license plates April 25, story

Unsurprising antics

So state Sen. Ronda Storms wants us to carry state-sanctioned images of Jesus on our Florida automobile tags. Anyone who has watched her antics over the years cannot possibly be surprised.

When voters sent this perpetual embarrassment of a county commissioner to the state Senate in 2006, I knew the result would be more red-meat, red-state social issues being dragged out of the political dustbin. It seems like pushing public religion is one of her pet projects.

I just wonder what Sen. Storms has done lately to help rebuild the economy, the housing market, our education and health care systems, or the environment. I am fairly certain the answer is "nothing."

Scott Cochran, Tampa

Of God, the devil and license plates April 25, story

Better uses for the money

If you want the crucified Christ on your car, fine. Want a more sanitized statement of your faith? Fine. Choose the pristine white cross and stained glass windows.

Just What Jesus Would NOT Want.

How about donating the money you would spend on a specialty plate to a food bank, a homeless shelter, a hospital, a thrift shop? Remember? Feed the hungry, care for the poor, heal the sick, clothe the naked?

M.R. Wilson, Largo

Torture yields unreliable information 04/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 27, 2009 7:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours