In the Jan. 23 letter "Mr. Obama, Without Safety We Have Nothing," a reader worried whether President Barack Obama's plans to close Guantanamo and the CIA's "secret" prisons would weaken security. This question could be argued both ways, but it misses the real point.
Like many Americans, I believe that torture is morally wrong and fundamentally un-American. Recall that more than 200 years ago, the authors of the Bill of Rights forbade "cruel and unusual" punishment and more than 60 years ago, the United States endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."
I believe the claim that "enhanced interrogation" methods exist -- methods that are somehow cruel and degrading enough to force information out of hardened terrorists, but not quite brutal enough to be called "torture" -- is just deceptive wordplay.
I know that if an action is morally wrong, it doesn't become right just because it becomes expedient. Nor does it become right just because you are frightened for your own safety -- nor even if you are frightened for the safety of your loved ones, your countrymen or others whom you love and hope to protect.
Someday, the United States has to set aside the fright and terror it fell prey to after 9/11 and return to doing what we all know to be morally right. I applaud our new president for taking the first steps in this direction.
WILLIAM W. COHEN