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Opinion | The Stain of Guantánamo: Torture

To the Editor:

In “Military Jurors Rebuke Torture as Moral Stain” (front page, Nov. 1), you report that seven out of eight senior American military officers dispatched to Guantánamo Bay to sentence a terrorist, Majid Khan, sent a clemency letter denouncing the torture he suffered in custody as “a stain on the moral fiber of America.”

This is a heartening indication that decency and respect for the rule of law are valued highly by America’s armed forces. Senior officials in the George W. Bush administration endorsed the torture of terrorist suspects. President Donald Trump tried to make a hero of Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who stabbed to death a sedated detainee and then held him up by the hair for a photo.

It is good to have this evidence that such civilian officials do not represent the thinking of many American military leaders.

Aryeh Neier
New York
The writer, president emeritus of the Open Society Foundations, was the founding executive director of Human Rights Watch and, earlier, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

To the Editor:

For First Time in Public, Ex-Detainee Describes Torture at C.I.A.’s Hands” (news article, Oct. 30), about the sentencing hearing testimony of the Guantánamo detainee Majid Khan, exposes the sheer brutality and immorality of U.S. post-9/11 use of torture.

Though President Barack Obama ordered the torture program to be shut down in 2009 and Congress voted in 2015 to turn that executive order into law, the C.I.A. is still trying to block those it tortured from revealing their horrible truths.

All who survived the C.I.A. black sites must be allowed to enter their experience of torture into the record in U.S. courts. President Biden could achieve this by declassifying all files on the C.I.A. torture program, with reasonable redactions. The remaining 39 detainees in the Guantánamo military prison, 13 of whom are cleared for transfer, should be given their day in court or set free.

(Rev.) Ron Stief
The writer is the executive director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

To the Editor:

Re “Florida Bars Professors From Testifying as Expert Witnesses in Voting Case” (news article, Oct. 30):

The University of Florida’s prior restraint of political science professors from testifying against racially discriminatory voting laws and other problematic policies cuts against academic freedom everywhere.

In June, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a law to protect “ideas and opinions” that students and faculty “may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable or offensive.” Now, administrators are unconstitutionally prohibiting faculty members from expressing ideas and opinions that Governor DeSantis may find uncomfortable, unwelcome, disagreeable or offensive.

The Supreme Court has opined that “the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Educators in Florida do not lose the right to testify about, write about or protest voter suppression laws simply because they teach at a public university.

Alan Kennedy
Williamsburg, Va.
The writer is a lecturer on public policy at William & Mary.

To the Editor:

Re “Becoming Evangelical,” by Ryan Burge (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, Oct. 31):

This was an interesting article, but Mr. Burge needs to know that some people (myself included) voted for Donald Trump holding our noses. Yes, he is loathsome. But to the Bible-believing Christian, the ideas promoted by the Democratic Party are even more so.

As a responsible Christian voter, I had to make the difficult choice to vote for someone I found distasteful, but who, I felt, would probably do the least harm to the country. In retrospect, it is a decision I stand by.

And yes, even in light of the events of Jan. 6. A disgusting display, but probably not the near collapse of democracy that some believe it was. The onslaught was dispelled and the Union held, by the grace of God. Or maybe Mr. Burge doesn’t think that most Bible-believing Christians were praying that it would?

Stefanie Setyon
Lynchburg, Va.

To the Editor:

Re “Health Lifeline to Poor Adults May Be Brief” (front page, Nov. 2), about Democrats’ current efforts to provide at least some relief as part of their party’s social policy bill:

How disheartening to read about Americans having to turn to GoFundMe campaigns to pay for lifesaving health care.

I remember the posters in my middle school guidance counselor’s rooms with this quote: “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.” Access to quality health care also shouldn’t be dependent on your ZIP code.

We should be ashamed that any of our fellow citizens have to become fund-raisers simply to stay alive.

Merri Rosenberg
Ardsley, N.Y.

  Credit…Jessica Chou for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “The Zuckerberg Era Is Over,” by Kara Swisher (Opinion, Oct. 27):

The Zuckerberg Era will not be over until The New York Times stops publishing his photograph in the paper virtually every day, whether upside down or right side up.

Paul Anbinder
Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

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