May 11, 2011

Letters to the editor, May 11, 2011
Many missteps in bin Laden operation

Geronimo was a great leader of his tribe. He does not need to be connected to Osama bin Laden by becoming a code word for him. Geronimo fought back because his land was stolen and the Apache villages wiped out.

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Osama bin Laden is shown in a 1998 file photo. Readers object to multiple aspects of the campaign to kill him.

The Associated Press

See more photographs, videos and related Osama bin Laden coverage.

I have to stand up when I hear things like that and Native American names being used inappropriately several times in Maine, from school names to telling natives to get off reservations. Who put them on reservations? It was after they were hunted down. Natives stay on the reservation to maintain their culture.

When are people going to get over the fact that natives are going to stand up when they are treated with no respect?

I was so happy when I heard they got bin Laden, and the warrior SEALs were safe. But then I was very sad that our warrior Geronimo was disrespected.

Margo Lodge-Seven Oakes

Peaks Island

Thank you for your expanded edition of The Portland Press Herald in reporting the demise of Osama bin Laden. It was a good read on these tumultuous developments.

Our Native Americans, I think, would be upset that a criminal of this magnitude would be described using the Indian name Geronimo in communications to the developers of this mission.

Geronimo was a medicine man and leader of Apache warriors as they fought against an inexorable movement of white settlers across western lands. It is ironic that Geronimo escaped and eluded U.S. troops for a decade before he was captured and ultimately settled in Oklahoma and never saw his homeland of Arizona again. I think a better name for bin Laden would have been "Bad Lad."

In any case, thank you for your great reporting, especially that of Bill Nemitz.

Arthur I. Anderson

Old Orchard Beach

There are many things to learn from the killing of Osama bin Laden, but justifying the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques should never be one of them.

Torture has many consequences, all of which are self-defeating. It dehumanizes the individual -- both the tortured and the torturer. It creates enemies and produces unreliable information. The Abu Ghraib photos became a major al-Qaida recruiting tool. News of the U.S. torture program cost us the good will of persons who could have helped us locate bin Laden years earlier.

As the Statement of Conscience of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture affirms, "Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear." Our government's use of torture betrayed our most cherished values and stained the soul of our nation.

It took the lessons of a gruesome history -- including two terrible world wars -- for the world to establish the Convention Against Torture, signed by 77 countries, including the United States. The time has come to learn the whole truth about U.S. use of torture in the years since Sept. 11, 2001, especially now that we risk history being rewritten by those who seek to justify their actions after the fact.

After 10 years, a trillion dollars and tens of thousands of American and other lives lost and damaged, we can't afford to draw the wrong lessons now. It's time to establish a government-sponsored commission of inquiry with full subpoena power to let the public know the full extent and consequences of our government's use of torture.

If we take away anything from bin Laden's death, it should be the fact that nothing is more important for the soul of our nation.

Rev. Jill Saxby

executive director, Maine Council of Churches

Portland

On Sept. 11, 2001, I witnessed the most horrific sight I could have ever imagined. The cold, calculated destruction of the twin towers and the Pentagon, U.S. Air Flight 93 that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, and the taking of 3,000 innocent lives was more than I could wrap my mind around. I couldn't, and still cannot, understand why anyone could, or would, execute such a ruthless act.

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