Saturday May 18, 2013

Leahy responds to Gitmo criticism

Editor of the Reformer:

In his May 10 letter ("An open letter to Senator Leahy") Mr. Richard Evers outlines the increasingly dire atmosphere and deteriorating conditions at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Mr. Evers and I agree that the status quo at Guantanamo is unacceptable. I was one of few in the Senate who strongly opposed the decision to open the prison a decade ago, and I continue to believe that the prison at Guantanamo must be closed. Mr. Evers apparently missed it, but my most recent statement about the need to close Guantanamo, two weeks ago, is on my website for all to see at leahy.senate.gov/press/gitmo. As I said in that statement, the Guantanamo prison is not necessary to keep America safe, it contradicts our most basic principles of justice, and it undermines our national security.

Mr. Evers also raised concerns about the deteriorating situation at Guantanamo and the ongoing hunger strike. I share his concerns, and it is clear that the legal and diplomatic uncertainties surrounding Guantanamo have now led more than 100 detainees to resort to these hunger strikes. We continue to house 166 detainees even though many have never been convicted of any crime, and more than half have been cleared for transfer. And while we have had limited success trying detainees in military commissions, federal prosecutors have had tremendous success in convicting al Qaeda and other terrorists in our federal courts.


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I believe most New Englanders are rightly proud of our courts, as I certainly am, and as Americans we need not be afraid to prosecute terrorists, including Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in our courts.

Regrettably, Republicans in Congress have made it nearly impossible for the Obama administration to transfer detainees to third countries or the United States for trial. I have consistently called for an end to this obstruction, and I consistently voted against efforts to tie the Administration’s hands -- including last year’s defense authorization bill, which included unnecessary and onerous transfer restrictions. The considerable resistance in Congress to closing Guantanamo has created a legal mess that will be difficult to resolve while the restrictions remain in place. But I will continue to make clear the many reasons why this failed Guantanamo venture should be ended and to press the President and my fellow senators to help make that happen.

Sen. Patrick Leahy,

Middlesex, May 17

Not voting for Galbraith

Editor of the Reformer:

Our senator, Mr. Galbraith, seems to have forgotten that good politics is the art of the possible. Instead of working toward the possible (translate compromise) he seems bent upon antagonizing his colleagues. I would hope that his behavior as an ambassador was more diplomatic than this. I think Senator White hit the nail on the head when she stated that he seems to know better than anyone else. I would hate to think that I might vote Republican in our next round of state elections. We can only hope he is challenged in the primaries before that happens.

Ed Flower,

Jamaica, May 13

Kudos to Balint

Editor of the Reformer:

Thank you, Becca Balint, for yet another thoughtful and inspiring column! Today’s piece, "On forgiveness" (May 14), and the recent one you wrote on vulnerability ("The girl in the yellow pantsuit," March 19), were both very touching and thought-provoking. Your insightful commentary brings a refreshing breath of humanity to these pages. It is an invitation to all of us to show up fully, to be curious, and to be real.

Rachel Zamore,

Brattleboro, May 14

Trustee vote
was wrong

Editor of the Reformer:

We would like to express our dismay at the Rockingham Free Public Library being closed for the summer. The board of trustees has shut down a most valuable and frequently used community resource for wrong reasons. Repeated support by large numbers of taxpayers requesting to stay open in the building during renovation progress, has fallen on deaf ears.

Certain board members who seemingly hold powerful positions will not allow the library’s business to go forward. Chairperson Jan Mitchell-Love and Vice Chair Deb Wright wield unbalanced power on the board and should step down, allowing the remaining trustees , staff and patrons to have access to the library and accomplish their tasks.

A most helpful and informative view of what is going on under your noses is at Rural Librarians Unite website. Take a minute to read it. Stand up library patrons and taxpayers; it’s your library, not theirs.

Adam and Debbi Wetzel,

Saxtons River, May 16

License plate photography

Editor of the Reformer:

An article about Sean Devlin finding old license plates in the trash was interesting ("Trash pickers celebrate with ball," May 4). I haven’t found any license plates in the trash, but I have taken over 350 photographs of license plates over the past seven or eight years.

I always take my camera when I go to Brattleboro or Hinsdale to shop. At Wal-Mart or Price Chopper there are always a number of parked cars and, often, several interesting license plates. Among those are H-O-P-E, OUTSELN, GOTTAT2, GOTBUSH, YGRWUP.

Warren S. Patrick

Townshend, May 4