May 14, 2004

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

In our name!

Millions of witnesses were shocked and appalled by graphic photographs of American soldiers reveling the vicious inhumane torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in “Abu Ghraib.” But for the heroic resolve of Specialist Joseph M. Darby to put an end to the torture, the world would not have known the nature of the “liberation” we are imposing on Iraq.

In a Muslim society where modesty is a matter of principle, to force men and women into public nudity is humiliating enough, let alone torturing them into committing overt sexual acts, which will undoubtedly leave them with permanent emotional scars. “Simulated sex” and rape have a deadly effect on modest Muslim women who are known to set themselves on fire if they have been “defiled,” their dignity and integrity violated. Male relatives of the abused and raped woman, often try to keep their family name intact by ending the sullied woman’s life in the name of “honor killing.”

Yet, the “Muslim factor”, did not deter American soldiers from knowing violation of not only the Geneva convention, but of any basic human value.

Disciplinary measures are pending against six low-ranking soldiers charged with abusing and sexually humiliating detainees. Others are also “being investigated” for torture and homicide. These, however, are merely used as scapegoats to blow smoke over a horrendous institutionalized system of torture in the Army prison system. The way the high ranking military “intelligence” personnel and Pentagon’s hired guns methodically train our “liberation forces” to de-humanize, demonize, torture, and violate the very integrity of POW’s is truly horrifying. What is more appalling is when we condone the torture and killings by closing our eyes and ears, looking the other way, remaining silent for fear of retribution and keeping the real perpetrators in power. The main culprits are higher up.

We need to remember that freedom, love, active compassion and justice for all are the only true American values. Not hatred, vengeance, torture and destruction. We must lift our voices and let our leaders know that we will not forget or forgive what they have done in our name. If not now, then when?

Ramona Shashaani
La Jolla

(Ms Shashaani is an Iranian-American Sufi Muslim woman, with many years of my life spent on fighting for human rights, freedom and democracy in Iran and elsewhere against dictatorship, torture and repression of all kinds.  I have lived, studied, and worked in this country since age 16 and have practiced law in California as a workers’ compensation attorney for the past 17 years.)

Secretary of Defense must be Held Responsible for Abu Ghraib Outrage!

I agree. Heads must roll. The Secretary of Defense must be held directly accountable for the torture, which took place in Abu Ghraib Prison. The Army should quickly conduct Article 32 hearings (the preliminary step prior to courts martial) for all involved, including the leaders who failed to properly supervise and train the “guards.”

I believe our Constitution and system of government is intact (since we do not condone or allow the violation of POW’s rights). The world will judge us by our actions, not our words.  That is why justice must be swift and harsh.

Those Iraqi prisoners who have been abused are due apologies and such compensation and amends that are possible on a case-by-case basis (taking into account the prisoners’ own crimes, if any).

I firmly believe we are on the right and wise path to liberate 25 million Iraqis and to help them to achieve a republic that respects individual rights. Such a government in the Islamic world would serve both as an example and a beacon of hope.

Our efforts to achieve freedom in Iraq have been severely (although I believe not irreparably) damaged by the stupidity of a few poorly trained and incompetently lead soldiers in that prison.

Your advice to President Bush is sober and constructive. He may never hear it, but I do.

Mike Giorgino

(Mr. Giorgino (R) is running to unseat Congressman Bob Filner (D) in the 51st Congressional District. He is reacting to La Prensa San Diego’s Editorial published on May 7, 2004 titled “Secretary of Defense Rumsfield States the System Works “) 

We Must Invest In Education

I am a strong supporter of the No Child Left Behind Act.  As a parent, I can think of very few things that are more important to me than my child’s education, and I support President Bush’s efforts to help all children.

No Child Left Behind does all the things that we have long asked for in America’s schools: focusing the necessary resources on the students and schools that need the most help, holding educators accountable, and making sure all children learn.

It does this while investing more in education than any previous administration, a fact often lost in the political debate.

And it’s working! The No Child Left Behind Act has generated impressive results, with reports showing rising test scores in states across the nation.

The 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education is May 17. This historic decision gave every student in America a seat in the classroom, today the No Child Left Behind Act guarantees each student an education.

Terri Ramirez
San Diego

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