Repulsive and unlawful
Editor of the Reformer:
Not long ago on these pages (Feb. 10) I tried to explain to the steadfastly front-running Republican presidential candidate that torture was both thoroughly unconscionable and illegal (and even unreliable). I was at the tine able to point out that torture is formally recognized as a war crime by the nations of the world, including by us. Not long after, it was heartening to see that (for whatever reason) he reversed himself on that issue.
At this time I am forced by recent statements of his to try to extend that lesson on war crimes. It must additionally be made clear to him that threatening to, or in fact actually, torturing or killing family members of alleged terrorists or others in order to extract information (or simply to punish them) is an equally repulsive and unlawful activity. Among other constraints, the 1949 Geneva Convention IV to which we, together with the rest of the civilized world, are formally bound, makes it clear that no physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against third parties (whether soldiers or civilians) as a means of making someone else talk.
Arthur H. Westing, Putney, March 19