Date: September 13th 2004
Sent to but not published by the Boston Globe

I am truly appalled by the words reportedly (Boston Globe, September 11, 2004) uttered by Donald Rumsfeld: that our treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was better than the way the terrorists had treated their captives - death.

We will lose the war on terrorism if we select their behavior as the standard against which we judge our own. In the past, we have judged our behavior against the ideals set forth by our founders: a beacon set upon a hill, a country of laws not men.

Our judgements about the propriety of those actions should be based on their relation to the laws we swore to uphold: the Geneva Convention on prisoners' rights, the anti-torture treaties that the US has signed. That should be the standard, not the behavior of the terrorists.

In 2002 Secretary of State Powell justified the US's failure to sign the International Criminal Court Treaty because "We have the highest standards of accountability of any nation on earth." Today how hollow this statement sounds after the prison abuses of this past year and their consequences of courts martial being arranged for soldiers and wrist slaps for officers involved with the abuse; to say nothing of the lack of accountability for those in the higher echelons of government.