Joseph J. Barbano ["The Death of Nick Berg," letters, May 13] says that the United States "may play at a higher level of morality" while simultaneously arguing that violations of that morality at Abu Ghraib prison are justified by the egregious acts of our opponents in Iraq. His reasoning is a little bit like arguing that sexual assault isn't as bad as murder.

Likewise, letter writer Thomas P. Lowry, in his rush to contrast Nicholas Berg's murder with the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, fails to distinguish between what the International Committee of the Red Cross has termed "serious violations of humanitarian law" by the U.S. military and murder by a gang of criminals. Mr. Lowry castigates the "pundits and self-flagellators" but doesn't seem to understand that criticism of one crime does not constitute support of another.

Who wins when those who claim to occupy the moral high ground abandon their ideals?

RICH HANCUFF

Washington

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A May 9 front-page article about Abu Ghraib reported that the Pentagon-approved guidelines for interrogation "contain appropriate safeguards such as legal and medical monitoring."

Any involvement of physicians in torture is unethical. We should have learned from the experience of the Nazi doctors what happens when physicians act in any other interest than that of their patients. Such behavior was condemned at Nuremberg and violates the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics.

HERBERT RAKATANSKY

Providence, R.I.

The writer is a professor of medicine at Brown University.