Ten years ago today, on Jan. 11, 2002, the first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo Bay. Within weeks, our government declared that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to these prisoners.

The prison soon developed a reputation for the torture and mistreatment of prisoners. It has been used as a justification for imprisonment and abuse of Americans abroad, including the three hikers recently imprisoned by Iran, and as a recruiting tool for terrorists.

Almost three years ago, the day after President Obama took office, he issued an executive order banning the practice of torture in the U.S. “war on terror” and promised to close Guantanamo. Yet the prison remains open – a prominent symbol to the world of a time when the United States was willing to sacrifice human rights and compromise our greatest principles.

As people of faith, we understand that torture is not only illegal and unwise – it is also immoral, an intrinsic evil. Torture blatantly violates the dignity of human life. It degrades the victim, the perpetrator and the moral credibility of the policymakers and citizens who sanction its use.

The Maine Council of Churches represents nine denominations in Maine, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. As a member of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, we join more than 300 religious organizations of all faiths in calling upon the president to keep his promise.

Restore America’s role as a moral example to the world. Close Guantanamo now.

The Rev. Jill Saxby, executive director

Maine Council of Churches



Occupy movement doesn’t represent real 99 percent


When are our city leaders going to enforce the law and clear Lincoln Park?

Mr. Gerald Caruso wrote a great column that told the story the way it is (Maine Voices, “After ignoring, deploring tea party, press fawns on Occupy movement,” Jan. 2).

Thank you for the column, Mr. Caruso. There are many of us 99 percenters who see it the way you do but do not know how to express it.

Janet Romano



Regarding Bill “Nemitz-Wannabe” Harnsberger’s rant to this paper Jan. 6 (Another View, “Tea party received positive coverage from Day 1”), with his absurd “facts” about the media and the tea party:

Although his diatribe was clearly nothing more than far-left opinion, rather than any facts, he did say one thing that should be addressed.

Harnsberger stated that “the tea party has no need to camp out for days on end to be heard,” unlike his brethren in the Occupy movement.

I would argue that it would benefit the tea party greatly if they “camped out for days on end to be heard.”

However, it seems those people have to get up and go to work every day and pay taxes. After all, somebody has to pay for the 13 million dollars-plus that the Occupy protest parties have accrued in 18 U.S. cities polled by The Associated Press.

Maybe President Obama could help with a bailout, since he has raked in around $15.6 million in contributions from the Wall Street financial and banking sector, more money than any president in the past 20 years, including George Bush.

It seems his incessant hypocritical denunciations and rhetoric toward Wall Street to appease his base is a classic example of biting the hand that feeds you.

Dave Johnson



Keystone XL pipeline fight no zero-sum competition


Can’t both sides win? (“Oil industry presses Obama to OK pipeline,” Jan. 5).

On the surface, it appears that the proposed pipeline poses a polarizing proposition.

In favor of the Keystone XL oil pipeline are unions seeking more jobs, petroleum interests seeking profits and Republicans seeking political play.

Opposed are environmentalists – fearing such risks as oil spills and bemoaning the continuing pursuit of nonrenewable resources.

Why not approve the pipeline with two conditions?

First, the penalty for any environmental hazards would be automatically tripled. (This would both encourage the safest possible designs and provide a surplus earmarked for green energy programs.)

Second, pipeline developers would need to create one new job in renewable energy production for every four pipeline-related jobs.

Petroleumistas and environmentalists can both win.

Mike Berkowitz


Super PACs will help define new low road in campaigns


You have to hand it to conservatives – they certainly know how to find and justify the low road. Just give something scummy a new name that has “freedom” or “American” in it, and you are good to go.

In this case, the conservative Supreme Court and the Republican Party gave us Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

“Citizens United” sounds so, well, wonderful. In fact, it is nothing but the Republican Party’s attempt to stack the deck more in favor of themselves come Election Day. They feel that allowing super PACS to raise unlimited money from individuals and corporations will give them the edge over the Democrats.

After all, the Republicans – because of their policy of wanting to give Big Business free rein to do whatever it wants in order to make money – will have the most corporations, big businesses and rich people on their side.

The loser Democrats will only have the unions to subsidize their super PACS. And everyone knows that the public is pretty much just a flock of mindless sheep, so whoever can put out the most ads will win the flock’s hearts and minds.

Ironically, the first salvo in this low way of fighting has been Republican on Republican, and, needless to say, Mitt Romney, the candidate with the biggest super PAC, is winning. But Republicans are not to worry, for soon the big guns will be turned and focused on the real enemy: the Democrats and evil liberals.

Then we will see the hyperbole and lies fly. (Super PAC donors do not have to identify themselves, and the super PACS can say whatever they want, true or not, with no responsibility.)

And of course, the Democrats and their union-supported super PACS will find their own low road, and together we will all sink to a new dismal level.

Yippee … Happy New Year.

Peyton Higgison



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