Bob Earle
Bellevue, Washington

Sarah Ferguson responds:

The Carlos I quoted is from Colombia, so I doubt he and his family simply walked across the border, any more than someone from Belarus would. I apologize for neglecting to include his nationality in my story. But it is somewhat lazy thinking to assume he's Mexican.

True, the majority of protesters in New York and across the country have been Mexican. But my point in the story is that these bills affect all immigrants, legal and illegal, regardless of nationality.

Black slights

Nat Hentoff's passionate call for disclosure on American-run "black sites" ["CIA Secret Prisons Exposed," Liberty Beat, May 10–16] is undermined by his hyperbole. These prisons cannot be fairly compared to the Soviet gulag system, where tens of thousands of innocent Soviet citizens were held. Hentoff's description of disappeared detainees is over-the-top. As he surely knows, this term was famously applied to Argentine prisoners who were, in fact, murdered by the state. Hentoff's credibility is not enhanced by use of the passage from James Risen's book, which relays rumor as undisputed fact. The quote that "once you get sent to Bright Light [an alleged black site], you never come back" is unintentionally comic: Never apparently means not for at least four years, since that's how long these sites have existed. Hentoff's credulity in assessing the claims of former detainees matches that of Amnesty International, which swallows such accounts hook, line, and sinker. It doesn't occur to either Hentoff or AI that these people have great incentive to lie.

Bill Ireland
Ontario, California

Nat Hentoff replies: I use the term gulags in the generic sense—like holocaust. I suggest Mr. Ireland read the documented reports on the CIA secret prisons from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights First. When the American delegation appeared before the United Nations Committee Against Torture last week, they refused to give any details about what goes on in those secret CIA prisons, including the interrogation techniques—or whether there had been any deaths following the interrogations.

Sign me up

Tell Hentoff that I do not give a damn about the human feces in the secret prisons. If it were up to me, I would torture them until they revealed everything, and then I'd put them out of their misery with a bullet in the head. I will gladly volunteer to do all the dirty work.

Avrahom Katz
Teaneck, New Jersey

Worth the Zen bucks

My experience of the film Refuge was entirely different from that of R. Emmet Sweeney [Tracking Shots, May 1–16]. I learned an awful lot from the interviews with Scorsese, Stone, etc., from the West, and the remarkable statements from the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans who have come to the West and actually found refuge here. Contrary to what Sweeney said I learned an enormous amount about Buddhism and about those who have come from the East to bring Buddhism here. I felt as though a whole new understanding was opened up to me. Actually, the Dalai Lama discourages people from changing religions in Refuge.

Paul Pellicoro

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