The idea of coercive interrogation in the Oct. 19 article, "Torture of detainees? No. 'Coercion'? It depends," sounds like the Bush administration's spin. It seems the concept of the "modest use" of sleep deprivation, temperature extremes, and stress positions is a fabrication. These coercive interrogation techniques could be pushed to the limit to get information from suspected terrorists. And what do we gain by using these techniques? If coercive interrogation is really a useful and necessary tool to obtain accurate information from suspected terrorists, then we should greatly expand its use. We should encourage the FBI and local police departments to use these techniques to obtain information and confessions from suspected murderers and anyone else suspected of a heinous crime.
Or maybe we should remember the words of our Founding Fathers who, in their wisdom, explicitly outlawed the use of cruel and unusual punishments in the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. No society can condone coercive interrogation ("torture with compassion") and call itself civilized. If we have to legalize these techniques to win the war on terrorism, then our actions show that we are no better than the terrorists, and we will be judged as such.
Mill Creek, Wash.
Regarding the Oct. 20 article, "Taking on the veil: West looks to assimilation": Once traditional Muslim women are forced to visibly assimilate, who will we turn to next? Amish and Mennonites in the US who hold to traditional dress and behavior? As a modern, Orthodox, married, Jewish woman, I worry that my own hair covering could be next. A full face veil, a hijab, or a head scarf – none of these harm anybody in any way. They are ways of life for many women – ways of expressing modesty, piety, and, in the case of Jewish women who cover their hair, announcing their married status to the community.