Mark Danner

We Are All Torturers Now

Multiple Authors

Gonzales and the Torture Question (9 Letters)

To the Editor:

Have we sunk so low that a nominee for attorney general, the highest law enforcement position in the nation, must publicly disavow the torture of prisoners, a practice he himself tried to sanitize at the behest of the president? What has become of our country?

James Eisenstein
South Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 7, 2005

To the Editor:

I watched Alberto R. Gonzales at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings as he continually refused to answer or evaded questions about whether or not he supported torture.

Any nominee for the position of attorney general who has to defend himself from charges of supporting torture is already an unfit candidate.

Any senator voting for this man is unfit to represent his or her constituents.

Wendy Miller
San Rafael, Calif., Jan. 7, 2005

To the Editor:

In his Senate confirmation testimony, Alberto R. Gonzales, the nominee for attorney general, said that it would “dishonor” the Geneva Conventions to allow these treaties to be invoked by terror suspects seeking protection from coercive interrogation techniques by coalition forces.

Mr. Gonzales has clearly demonstrated through well-reasoned arguments and citations to relevant Geneva treaty passages that he is not, and never was, the architect of the torture that occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, nor is he the “public face” for the policies that appear to have condoned that torture, however indirectly.

To the contrary, Mr. Gonzales is a competent jurist who is eminently qualified to serve the president, and the American people, as the nation’s chief prosecutor.


Carl David Birman
Mamaroneck, N.Y., Jan. 7, 2005


To the Editor:

Who, in Alberto R. Gonzales’s position, would not disavow torture when asked if he approved of it? What is more of a question is how Mr. Gonzales defines torture.
He should give the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the country, his clear, precise, succinct definition.

Robert Patterson
Philadelphia, Jan. 7, 2005


To the Editor:

Apparently the policy on torture of Alberto R. Gonzales and the Bush administration can be summarized in a single sentence: This administration does not engage in torture and will not condone torture – and besides, they deserve it.

Paul Rocklin
Watertown, Mass., Jan. 7, 2005


To the Editor:

A common thread runs through “Don’t Torture Yourself (That’s His Job),” by Maureen Dowd (column, Jan. 6), and “We Are All Torturers Now,” by Mark Danner (Op-Ed, Jan. 6): the popular liberal leitmotif of the awful America appallingly torturing innocent people.

Maybe we should worry a little less about how terrorists are being treated in prison and a little more about what they are doing to us.

Yes, I know that as Americans we should be expected to hold ourselves to higher standards, but this is the war on terror, and these are terrorists. They aren’t an organized army; they are violent insurgents who brutally torture American soldiers and civilians for the sole reason that they are Americans.

If a few embarrassing pictures were taken, it is hardly grounds for the scathing attacks on Alberto R. Gonzales, John Ashcroft or America in general.

Jamie Valeriano
Wexford, Pa., Jan. 6, 2005


To the Editor:

Let me get this straight. If Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, had paid his nanny under the table, recent history shows that there is no way he could be confirmed.

But Mr. Gonzales is merely the architect of a White House policy on torture that even Republicans believe has endangered the lives of American troops. Therefore, his confirmation does not appear in doubt.

Diane Runyan Bech
Swarthmore, Pa., Jan. 7, 2005


To the Editor:

During World War II, I was a prisoner of the secret branch of the Japanese military police for 18 months. Except for being hung by my wrists on a wall for three days and being beaten by a sadistic lieutenant (an exception to the typical investigators), I was humanely treated, both in the interrogation center at Fort Santiago in Manila and in the disciplinary barracks where I was confined for seven months.

I felt very strongly that one reason I and my companions were not tortured was that the United States Army had treated its Japanese captives on Bataan decently in accordance with the laws of war.

Alberto R. Gonzales and his political superiors should be less contemptuous of the Geneva Conventions, which were designed to protect fighting men everywhere.

Thomas S. Jones
Safety Harbor, Fla., Jan. 6, 2005


To the Editor:

I hardly recognize my own country. I am incredibly sad.

Andrew S. Kenoe
Northbrook, Ill., Jan. 6, 2005