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Forum, Monday, June 9: Gitmo, Hartford Town Manager

Immoral Treatment of Gitmo Prisoner

To the Editor:

The article May 24, “Judge OKs Force Feed at Gitmo,” was a grim reminder of the appalling nature of our military “justice.” This case and others display contempt for our constitutional and, more important, our moral and human standards. The treatment involved would be a horror regardless of any alleged acts of the prisoner, but in this instance the prisoner is an innocent man.

According to a New York Times article, Mr. Dhiab was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and has been detained since without charges being filed against him. With 12 years to try, they could find no evidence of a crime committed — that is, he is innocent. The Sixth Amendment says, “In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” Twelve years?

Judge Kessler says, “Mr. Dhiab may well suffer unnecessary pain …” The Eighth Amendment: “… nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” Our treatment of an innocent man has brought him to the point of trying to kill himself by starvation, but Judge Kessler says, “the Court simply cannot let Mr. Dhiab die.” Is this not an extension of cruelty?

After seven years, the government admitted his incarceration was unnecessary. Also according to the Times, “He was cleared for transfer by the Obama administration in 2009 but the government has not been able to repatriate him, first because of fears about how he would be treated at home …”

Did they give him the choice? It is hard to imagine that “home” or any other country would treat him as badly as America does. No evidence has been presented that they would treat him badly, but even if they killed him, he has made it clear he would prefer that to his present treatment.

Some say that constitutional protections extend only to citizens (perhaps they should review the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence). The Constitution was written by humanists and indicates no such distinction. Even without a constitution, would our moral evaluation of this treatment be different?

Quentin B Deming

Hanover

Support for Rieseberg

To the Editor:

I find it almost uncanny that juxtaposed with the headline “Rieseberg Under Fire in Hartford” was a photo of an excavator demolishing a building in West Hartford, part of the “unfinished business” left from Tropical Storm Irene’s devastation nearly three years ago — business that has surely shaped much of the workload of Hartford’s besieged town manager for the last three years. Roads, bridges, parks, a library and other infrastructure have had to be restored or replaced under Hunter Rieseberg’s watch while some semblance of safety and normalcy had to be maintained. I find it ironic that some of those who have benefited from this work have deemed it necessary to turn against him. While their departure from elective or appointive service to the town certainly doesn’t disqualify them from expressing their opinions, certainly the circumstances of their departure need to be taken into account when evaluating those opinions.

Frankly, I was no great fan of Rieseberg when he first arrived in Hartford, since circumstances of his departure from Hampton, N.H., were somewhat murky. What caused me to take a fresh look at him? Nearly three years’ service on the town’s first Charter Commission, where we painstakingly dissected the town’s governance structure with the intent of putting it back together in better condition than we found it. We found it necessary to interview Rieseberg and all of his department heads. Speaking for myself, I became tremendously impressed with not only his managerial ability, but with his ability to surround himself with capable, dedicated people in just about every area of town government. While I haven’t always agreed with the lack of transparency in certain areas, I also realize that many of the arrangements and agreements he has entered into on behalf of the town have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money.

I also have great personal respect for some of Rieseberg’s vocal critics, but it still doesn’t hurt to consider just what might be in it for them.

William A. Wittik

Hartford

Welcome an Exchange Student

To the Editor:

The Rotary Club of Lebanon will be welcoming our incoming exchange student from Strasbourg, France, to Lebanon High School in the fall of 2014. This 15-year-old boy will attend Lebanon High School for the entire upcoming school year. To make his American visit a success, we are looking for three host families, each of whom would be willing to host him for at least 14 weeks each. Hosting an international student is a wonderful and enriching experience, and is easier than you think. The student becomes part of your family and it is a fabulous experience for your own high school student. If you live in the Lebanon School District and are interested in becoming part of the Student Exchange Program, please contact me via email at alaview@sover.net or call at 603-632-9307. I can provide you with much more information about our incoming student and the Rotary Exchange program.

Jim Shibles

Rotary Club of Lebanon Youth Exchange Officer