I can understand Anne Applebaum and the administration's abhorrence of the word "gulag" when it is used to describe Guantanamo Bay and other detention camps ["Amnesty's Amnesia," op-ed, June 8]. What I don't understand is their lack of outrage about the detainees' plight. The lack of accountability in the prison scandal cannot lead to a good conclusion. Instead, Arab youth will come to view us as having a double standard and reject democracy. Amnesty International's condemnation of our practices is valid and its use of the word "gulag" has brought the issue front and center. Let the debate begin!

-- Jackson Bailey



Anne Applebaum unfortunately facilitates the administration's fondest wish: to change the subject. Two weeks ago we were debating the ethics of Newsweek's use of an anonymous source instead of what actually happened to the Koran. This week we're debating usage instead of prisoner abuse. The president should be grateful to Amnesty International.

-- William Fisher

Chatham, N.Y.


In his June 3 op-ed column, Charles Krauthammer says that our treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been "remarkably humane." He bases this claim on a Navy report that found just seven "confirmed cases" of abuse at Guantanamo. What Krauthammer doesn't say is that the Navy counted only cases that were "substantiated" and "closed" before September 2004, months before FBI documents revealed the truth about Guantanamo. Nor does he say that the same report found just 16 cases of interrogation-related abuse in Iraq and only three cases in Afghanistan.

Krauthammer evidently accepts the government's sham definition of "humane" treatment, according to which U.S. officials can strip a detainee naked, isolate him in a lightless cell, sic dogs on him, prevent him from sleeping, shackle him in painful hunched positions, force him to stand for hours, blare loud noises at him and forcefully interrogate him for extended periods -- and then repeat that treatment, day after day, week after week. If this is what we call "humane," then Krauthammer's right: Our treatment of prisoners has been "remarkably humane."

-- David Bowker

New York

The writer is former attorney-adviser for the law of armed conflict at the State Department.


Charles Krauthammer says that "we know" that al Qaeda operatives are "trained to charge torture when they are in detention, and specifically to charge abuse of the Koran to inflame fellow prisoners on the inside and potential sympathizers on the outside." But his claim doesn't add up.

Krauthammer wrote that Navy inspectors reported in March that they had completed 24,000 interrogations at Guantanamo and that the Pentagon in May reported 13 allegations of abuse. It follows that for every interrogation, .00054 percent of the detainees allege abuse of the Koran. If the operatives were trained to report abuse of the Koran there would be a much higher percentage of these reports from detainees. Either the claim is a smoke screen to deflect criticism from the administration or we are doing an abysmal job of arresting the real "trained al Qaeda operatives."

-- Peter Cane



E.J. Dionne Jr. ["Hyperbole and Human Rights," op-ed, June 3] refers to "questions raised by American practices in Guantanamo," calls for scrutiny of "the practices at Guantanamo" and chides President Bush for dismissing questions about practices at Guantanamo. On the same page, Charles Krauthammer notes that out of about 24,000 interrogations at Guantanamo, the Navy confirmed seven cases of abuse, "all of which were relatively minor." Out of 13 allegations of abusing the Koran, five were substantiated and two appeared to be accidental, according to Krauthammer.

If such scattered incidents are what Dionne means by "practices," he is the one engaging in hyperbole.

-- David Thomasson