Although many in this country and around the world are happy about, or even celebrating, the death of Osama bin Laden, I am not.
While we claim to be guided by the “rule of law,” the U.S. engages in targeted assassinations, not just for bin Laden but for others considered to be our enemies. Whatever happened to trial by jury? Why would the world respect the U.S. when we kill our opponents rather than subjecting them to any justice system?
It’s hard to believe that Special Forces soldiers could not have wounded bin Laden and then brought him to justice. It’s hard to confirm that the person killed is, in fact, Osama bin Laden, despite claims that the DNA are matched, because he was buried at sea.
I heard a radio broadcaster describe bin Laden as the greatest living mass murderer in the world. But if bin Laden was responsible for 3,000 U.S. deaths, or even many more if all deaths caused by Al Qaeda are included, what about the thousands who have died as a result of 40 years of Gadhafi’s attacks against his own people in Libya? What about the hundreds of thousands who died because of policies by Sudan president Omar al-Bashir against the people of Darfur, or George W. Bush’s wars that may have cost over a million lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan?
It’s time to follow the “rule of law” by bringing all these mass murders to justice instead of killing them or allowing them to run free.
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Chemical informed consent
When it comes to products that are hazardous to health, our society has an agreement. People under a certain age of wisdom are protected from using them. We assume that people over that age are capable of recognizing those products and their dangers and making informed decisions. That compact is reasonable in regard to products like cigarettes and alcohol. But it does not make sense in the case of chemicals which are so hidden and ubiquitous that you just about need an advanced degree in chemistry to detect and avoid them.
Based on the standard of informed consent, I believe that a much higher bar must be set for these substances. If you can’t detect something you can’t make an informed decision about it. That is where I believe the government has a mandate to step in. This can be done in two ways: banning these substances or requiring them to be clearly labeled (with health warnings) on each and every product in which they are found.
Yes, this will be cumbersome. Yes, it may alienate certain companies. But I do not believe that endangering the health and well-being of its citizens is an acceptable cost of doing business in Maine.
Don’t forget that thalidomide was once considered harmless.
Julia Emily Hathaway
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Community college defense
I am responding to the BDN’s April 14 editorial entitled “Higher Education Failure,” which suggests combining the University System and the Maine Community College System.
The Maine Community College System provides technical educational opportunities to high school graduates, the laid-off worker, the under-employed, the non-traditional student and the list goes on. These students come to MCCS for various reasons but share one common goal: to obtain an affordable two-year Associate Degree.
If the MCCS were a part of the Maine University System, the word “affordable” would be lost as would be the numerous students seeking out this institution. I doubt the University is prepared to educate individuals through the MCCS degree programs in a mere two years. Another part of the community college experience that would be lost is the smaller class sizes and individual academic support. Many students are far more successful in the smaller classroom than in the 200-plus classes.
Next, the MCCS offers customized training for local and regional business. This tailor-made opportunity provides businesses the affordable way to train employees while growing their business. If this customized training opportunity were absorbed into the University system, who would bear the increase in costs? This is a genuine concern for small businesses.
Before these institutions are forced to become one, shouldn’t we evaluate the academic differences that set them apart? The community college system provides the community with a trained workforce and provides the University with a well-prepared student.
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9-1-1 is the number to call for help. May 1 is May Day, a phrase used to summon help. I have not heard this brought out in the press, but May 1 seems an appropriate day to bring justice to Osama bin Laden.
Also, we must stop worrying that we’ll offend Muslims. The BDN’s first report twice noted that bin Laden was buried in accordance with Muslim beliefs. That is how good Muslims are buried. Osama bin Laden was not a good Muslim.
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Capture or kill ?
At this writing (May 4), it appears the primary plan was to kill Osama bin Laden, rather than capture him and put him on trial.
Yes, the mission to capture him would have compounded the difficulties of an already risk-filled mission. Keeping the prisoner secure both from those who would try to kill him and from those who would try to rescue him would have been a headache. Putting bin Laden on trial would have given him a platform for proclaiming his ideology of terror.
But to shrink from doing the right thing out of fear of these and other difficulties is dishonorable. The United States has missed a huge opportunity to show the world that the virtues of freedom and justice we preach to others we also will pay any price to practice ourselves.
So I challenge President Obama: Prove me wrong. Release the plans that were developed for bin Laden’s capture. Under whose custody would he have been held? What preparations had been made for his trial?
And, express profound regret that the United States failed in its mission to deliver bin Laden to public trial, where the defeat of his ideology would have been seen by all, where his humiliation would have been complete. Apologize to the people of his home nation, Saudi Arabia, and to the adherents of his professed religion, Islam, for depriving them of the opportunity to repudiate him to his face.
Let there be no question that the United States stands for liberty and justice for all.
David Paul Henry
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The BDN stories about the killing of Osama bin Laden stated bin Laden was unarmed when he was killed. But then, so were our victims of the 9/11 attacks.