More Americans need to express outrage over Guantanamo
Americans appropriately come together in compassion and righteous indignation when they learn of the mistreatment of a dog that is continuously displayed on the news loop.
Meanwhile, many are choosing to ignore the violation of human rights and evidence of torture at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, or they justify it with the claim that it helps keep us safe. While the prison has achieved its purpose of circumventing the law and U.S. Constitution, it is condemned by our friends in the rest of the world, and is also recognized as a recruiting vehicle for those who we proclaim to hate us.
It is strangely gratifying to learn that a few Americans have joined the ongoing hunger strike by detainees, including local war veteran Elliot Adams [June 4 Gazette].
Meanwhile The Gazette reports that the House GOP is acting to prevent the closing that President Obama has ineffectively called for over the last five years.
The president has an option that should now be considered. He could close the prison by proclaiming a pardon for all detainees. There are several precedents. A total of 303 native Americans were condemned to the gallows in 1862 following an uprising in Minnesota. President Abraham Lincoln made the unpopular decision to pardon 265, while the remaining 38 were hanged in the largest mass execution in American history.
More recent controversial examples are President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter’s blanket amnesty for Vietnam-era draft dodgers and George H.W. Bush’s pardon of 75 involved in the Iran-Contra affair.
A valid concern is that some of the released detainees will return to their native regions and be recruited as terrorists. This fear can be neutralized by keeping them in the United States, with willing and approved hosts, and requiring them to wear monitors to track their location until there is confidence that they will not be a threat.
Such a bold and decisive action can be condemned now, and judged favorably in the future. President Harry Truman noted that good politics is good policy. If President Obama fails to act decisively, some future president, Democrat or Republican, can be expected to do what he failed to do, but many lives and much money will continue to be tragically wasted in the meanwhile.
Schools should do more long-range planning
With most of the school budgets resolved, we have unfortunately heard of the need to lay off teachers as well as other personnel. While this may be a reality in today’s environment, it is never pleasant.
It appears that our school districts could better plan their personnel needs as they move forward with a three- to five-year plan based on projected enrollments and realistic, conservative revenue assumptions. This would allow them to utilize attrition and retirements within their systems to address required reductions and avoid what seems to have become the annual budget crisis.
I also notice that during the time when residents are voting on their school budgets, there always seem to be a cry to approve the budgets “for the kids’ sake.” This begs the question: Are we doing it for “the kids’ sake” when we base our layoffs on seniority? Are we keeping the best, brightest and most effective teachers?
Misplaced priorities in spending of state money
I would like to say thanks to some people — namely the students and teachers of New York and the FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] people — for giving up their school programs, their jobs, and millions of dollars to fix local flood damage so the state (Cuomo) can blow tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on land in the Adirondacks that hardly anyone will ever visit [May 27 Gazette].
That is a lot of money to waste that could have been spent in areas that really needed it!
John T. Hicks