Letters - Nov. 19

How great a price?

In the past few months it has come to light that the CIA has been sending some captured enemy combatants to foreign countries for interrogation by torture. Sen. John McCain, himself a victim of torture in Vietnam, has documented that torture and prisoner abuse has for many years been an official but covert policy of the United States – not simply an unfortunate and sporadic act of a few sadistic and misguided soldiers.

In Senate hearings, McCain revealed that since mid-2002, the CIA has signed agreements with and paid money to a number of “friendly” foreign governments to interrogate, often by using torture, suspected terrorist agents.

The names of these governments, and the specific location of these officially named “black sites,” are still classified, but most are known to have on-site CIA handlers to direct the questioning. It’s known as “extraordinary extradition,” but it’s nothing less than outsourced torture.

There are few things as abhorrent to the human spirit and the spirit of democracy as state-sponsored torture. In a true democracy, torture is NEVER justified. It isn’t a question of whether torture is effective (it rarely is) or when it might be “appropriate.” Torture should never even be discussed as an option, let alone allowed, by any civilized government. Yet Vice President Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss are now petitioning Congress to allow the CIA to torture prisoners here and abroad, and without Congressional oversight.

We pay a high price for our often lumbering, stumbling democratic process. Part of this price is not allowing the torture of prisoners who might possibly give us valuable information.

The moment we start abrogating the legal and moral foundations of our democratic form of government in the name of expediency, we must ask ourselves how much we really do value our democracy and how great a price we are willing to pay for its blessings.

David Duncombe

White Salmon

The gifts of winter

The tangible and intangible gifts of winter:

Cold is tiptoeing in, along with the rest of us.

Everyone’s pondering hibernation and prepping for introspection. Winter is approaching with its unique dual offering: outdoor recreating and indoor nestling.

After getting psyched over Warren Miller’s latest, yes! We’re all ready for the mountain.

However, we can focus on the other half of winter’s equation: To trek indoors so we can appreciate fleece blankets, hot chocolate and crackling fires and take full advantage of winter’s gift to us of internalizing, connecting (or re-connecting), and stirring the deepest sections of our souls.

Thanks, Adam Lapierre, for your Round Table wisdom (“Finding joy in the cold, white season,” Nov. 5), allowing me to reminisce about my childhood days in Taiwan (Republic of China), where there were NO seasons!

Granddad mailed us loads of leaves from Pennsylvania – we could only imagine being surrounded by brilliant hues of red and orange. For some odd reason, he never mailed us any snow.

We fantasized a lot – and ever since arriving in the U.S., we’ve reveled in the seasons. The transitions are entrancing, reminding us that change is imminent and surrounds us all.

Yes, Adam, winter IS good.

Mary Jane Heppe

Hood River

Historical question

A while back, my 1805 westerly adventures comparison to today’s 2005 northerly movement was criticized by a scholar of a TV program.

Now, let’s compare these two visions with the following two versions of a specific event, as told by historian Dick Cassidy and quoted in the Nov. 16, 2005, Hood River News, re: historical facts, re: Lewis and Clark’s loss of their branding iron (U.S. Capt. M. Lewis) at a location different than that as reported in the Jan. 5, 2004, Oregonian, quoting Robert J. Miller, a professor at Lewis and Clark Law School, who claims that it was found miles upriver, near Celilo Falls.

One of these men didn’t watch that television program.

Alan Winans

Hood River

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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