Morality On The Line
Re: McCain's Defining Moment by Ray McGovern
I just read Mr. McGovern's letter re: torture and wish that I had been one of the signers. For 31 years (1968 - 1999), I was a polygraph examiner with the CIA; four of those years were spent in Vietnam. I, and many of my former colleagues, are outraged and disgusted by the recent stories re: CIA involvement in torture.
Jane Mayer's article in the 14 November New Yorker,and the subsequent ABC story on CIA Harsh Interrogations got my attention. In my 31 years with the agency, I underwent the agency's interrogation course, conducted a lot of interrogations, in a lot of countries, and never encountered anything like what was described in those articles.
What was described in those articles represents a fundamental change in the way the agency does business and vitiates any claim we have to the moral high road. Those articles also symbolize the failure of our Iraq policy.
Author,Of Spies and Lies
My thanks to Ray McGovern for taking an unequivocal stand against torture on moral grounds. The notion that the end justifies the means is the hallmark of dictatorship not democracy.
A Democratic Outbreak?
Re: Embracing The Brotherhood
Regarding the article "Embracing the Brotherhood": But what about the women? How do they fare in all this, when Egypt is now a secular state? I have only been to Luxor and Cairo, but in both places I see women veiled head to toe, women in jeans with head scarves, women in mini skirts and no head scarves, and women in business suits. What they wear, of course, is not the issue so much as what they wear expresses their range of lifestyle options. What happens to these choices? By the same token, in Egypt, women's health care access and quality ranks near the bottom of the scale globally. Could this actually improve under a different government? What about education, sports, careers and voting rights, inheritance, divorce rights and protection against violence? What does this tendency toward more Islamic governments mean for all of that? And does democracy mean that THEY have a voice, too? If so, will that be a voice backed by equal opportunity, or a voice of desperation because reality does not support that they survive in any way but to submit to the will of men anyway, regardless of what the law says they can and cannot do?
How can you possibly believe that the U.S. government would respond positively to the democratic election of parties that espouse political Islam, radical or not? When moderate Muslim parties won in Algeria and the military invalidated the elections, the U.S. cheered and called it a victory for democracy. There lies the future of Muslim democratic parties. The U.S. will foment or support coups that crush and radicalize them, particularly those with a history of terrorism. This is an utter pipe dream.
While I, too, would welcome an outbreak of democratic process in the Middle East (and, no, I don't believe our misguided adventure in Iraq will forward that goal)what Mr. Khouri's article suggests (and is also what I believe will occur) is that unrestrained, fully democratic elections in Arab countries will result in Islamist majorities directly, or indirectly, representing the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Mr. Khouri sees this as a good thing and suggests that the MB would embrace democratic processes and ideals.
What bothers me it that, as I have come to understand through a lot of reading from various sources, is that the MB embraces the religious ideals of Wahhabism and that Wahhabism maintains that any government of men, which seeks to establish secular laws that might overrule shari'a law, is considered apostasy and/or polytheism (both punishable by death according to the Qu'ran). Thus, the election of the MB or its "cover" organizations would result in the election of a government committed to establishing a non-democratic, fundamentalist, Islamic country ruled by shari'a law similar to Afghanistan under the Taliban.
I am curious regarding Mr. Khouri's response to this suggestion.
Rael Nidess, M.D.
Those Not Counted
Re: But We're Not Counting (blog) by Laura Donnelly
I saw a report on the individual keeping track of civilian deaths in Iraq on CNN. As I understand, his methodology for data capture is from press reports from around the world. He has performed a great service in his data collection. But the press reports a snapshot of an incident at that moment in time. One of the questions begging to be asked is how many civilians die one day, two days, a week or a month later after suffering their wounds. These numbers are not being reported by the press.
Also, the number of wounded people are not reported. If we look at the number of wounded to dead U.S. military service members, we see a 8:1 ratio of wounded to dead soldiers. Many of the wounded suffer severe injuries such as missing limbs and head injuries. With the hospitals in Iraq suffering from lack of supplies and equipment, the wounded civilians do not have access to the sophisticated medical care available to the U.S. military. Their quality of life, if they survive, will be extremely poor for the rest of their lives.
Re: Fair Trade For None by Jospeh Stiglitz
I was a strong supporter of NAFTA until I saw what it did here in Mexico and other developing countries. The rural population here, and in other places, is old-fashioned subsistence farmers. Raising for their families with one cash crop to cover the cost of things you have to buy. Here the cash crop is primarily corn. Under NAFTA it is cheaper to import it than to grow it, so the farmers leave the land because they can no longer feed their families, migrate to large cities and get into trouble or try to immigrate to the U.S.
Yes, the U.S. farmer can feed the world and by means of subsidies the U.S. government is helping him do it at a high human cost.
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