The Senator's Assessment of Guantanamo . . .
The analogy that Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) drew regarding the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was not entirely spurious [news story, June 17]. The FBI memo from which he read said that a prisoner at Guantanamo was "subjected to extreme heat and bitter cold among other unpleasantness."
One of the "scientific" experiments performed by Josef Mengele, the World War II-era "Angel of Death," on captive Jews was to subject them to extremes of heat and cold. I wonder if the modern victims of this form of Mengelian torture would describe what they endured as "unpleasant."
In his June 22 Style story, Mark Leibovich discussed the attacks on Sen. Richard J. Durbin for his comparison of torture experienced by some detainees in the war on terrorism to that experienced under the Nazis or Pol Pot. Mr. Leibovich wrote, "There is a dictum in Internet culture called Godwin's Law (after Mike Godwin, a lawyer who coined the maxim), which posits that the longer an online discussion persists, the more likely it is that someone will compare something to the Nazis or Hitler."
He continued, "According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, 'There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made, the thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress.' "
Does it matter to those being held and tortured whether they are at Gestapo headquarters in Nazi Germany or in a cellblock at Abu Ghraib, Iraq? Isn't the pain and the terror the same? Why does one "lose the argument" if one points this out?