Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor on Roberts and torture, effectiveness of enhanced interrogation, Moran and aerospace, war on Christmas

Roberts’ claims are embarrassing

The front page of Friday’s Eagle had two conflicting headlines. One reported that the CIA chief backed away from any claim that torture directly produced any actionable intelligence. Most other apologists for enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT) have taken the same tack. The best they seem able to do is to try to redefine torture to excuse the abhorrent activities they endorsed in the name of our country. They certainly don’t offer examples of EIT successes.

In the other headline, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., complained about the EIT report being “flawed and partisan.” How he can present that view with a straight face, when even the most ardent supporters of EIT seem unable to defend it, is an incredible display of hypocrisy.

Roberts’ position makes sense only in the context of revelations during his re-election campaign that he was frequently absent when votes were taken and difficult issues were discussed. As the campaign suggested, he was generally a nonparticipant who did not discharge his duties while in Washington, D.C. He clearly has a vested interest in trying to minimize the significance of the report, since it suggests malfeasance and/or incompetence. His attempts to explain away his culpability are embarrassing.



Report facts

The headline on the article about the CIA chief’s news conference (“CIA chief: No proof that harsh methods got results,” Dec. 12 Eagle) was not just misleading but a lie. I listened to the entire conference, and what CIA Director John Brennan said was that useful information was received after prisoners were subjected to enhanced interrogation methods. But if the information was obtained specifically because of those methods or whether the same information could have been obtained by other methods, there is no way to know, he said.

I expect The Eagle to report the facts, not to alter them to prove an agenda.



Missed questions

The head of the CIA had a press conference during which he very carefully indicated several times that individuals were detained, individuals were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT), and individuals provided valuable information (Dec. 12 Eagle). The clear implication was that there was some connection between the EIT and the provided information. But, of course, the CIA director indicated that such a connection is unknown and “unknowable.”

The simple questions the press should have asked are:

Did any detainees provide valuable information before they were subjected to EIT and stop providing such information after they were subjected to EIT?

What was the time span between any given detainee being subjected to EIT and the following provision of valuable information? Five minutes? Two years?

Those and a number of other revealing questions could have been asked but were not. I’m sure such questions will occur to the press when there is no one available who can or will answer them. As a result, members of the public get to sit back and say to themselves, “Well, maybe it worked and maybe it didn’t.” According to the CIA director, we can and will never know.



Walks the walk

The selection of Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., as co-chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Aerospace Caucus is another piece of good news for Wichita’s and Kansas’ aviation interests (Dec. 11 Opinion). It’s also another example of the senator’s willingness to walk the walk as well as talk the talk in Washington, D.C.

Moran has actively sought ways to involve himself in issues that affect the industry that is so vital to our local economy. We are extremely fortunate to have an entire Kansas delegation of aviation activists. Like Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, Moran tries to make it home to Kansas virtually every weekend in order to stay in touch and up to date with his constituents. Neither is afraid to lead by example on key issues that affect aerospace programs, regulations and jobs.

Kansas’ leadership in aviation doesn’t end in the Midwest; it extends to Capitol Hill, too.



War on Christmas

The Christmas season is here, and with the season come the inevitable diatribes against the supposed “war on Christmas.” As a wholly secular atheist contemptuous of holiday expression, I confess to being a “warrior” against the Christmas holiday.

Yet I feel no shame for my anti-Christmas beliefs. The reason is that, as a profoundly patriotic citizen, I view the “war on Christmas” as the most fundamentally American of sentiments. You see, upon landing in the New World some 400 years ago, the Puritans, viewing Christmas as pagan idolatry and counter-scriptual folly, set about banning it in Massachusetts for the next two centuries. Although as an atheist I believe Puritan teachings to be ludicrous, I agree with their contempt toward the holidays. By engaging in my own private war against Christmas, I am following in the footsteps of my Plymouth forebearers.

Thus, if I wage a “war against Christmas,” I do so not out of hate toward scripture, nor to be a “Scrooge” or a “Grinch.” I wage war out of love for country and a desire to resurrect the traditions (anti-Christmas sentiment) it was built upon. Would that everyone could share my patriotism and sense of civic obligation.



Letters to the Editor

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For more information, contact Phillip Brownlee at 316-268-6262, pbrownlee@wichitaeagle.com.