Sunday, January 09, 2005


Post Standard Letters--Finally a few are published

Letters to the Editor

Post-Standard Letter
Sunday, January 09, 2005

Dhafir trial coverage has prosecutorial tone

To the Editor:

I have been attending the trial of Dr. Rafil Dhafir two days a week since it started in October. My experience of the paper's reporting on this trial suggests prosecution could not do a better job of presenting its side of the case if it were writing the articles.

Significant evidence for the defense is often ignored. If mentioned at all, it is buried under big, damning headlines. What happens in the courtroom and what is reported in the newspaper often have only a passing resemblance.

More than half-a-million Iraqi children under the age of five died as a direct result of the sanctions imposed on Iraq. Dr. Dhafir's actions may have helped save lives. Doesn't he deserve the right to be held innocent until proven guilty? Shouldn't we as citizens in a democracy help ensure this right, even if the newspaper denies it?

Katherine Hughes

Dhafir is convenient target in war on terror

To the Editor:

What would a witch hunt be without witches? What would the war against terrorism be without terrorists? The public must be kept in a state of perpetual fear. In this case, it is the Muslim community.

The charge that he violated the U.S. sanctions against aiding Iraq, and comments linking Dr. Dhafir to the war on terror, are part of the witch-hunt mentality the Bush administration promotes.

New York Gov. George E. Pataki reportedly described Dhafir's as a "money laundering case to help terrorist organizations . . . conduct horrible acts." Prosecutors hinted at national security reasons for holding Dhafir without bail. But no evidence was offered to support the allegations.

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft spoke of a terrorism supporter apprehended. A federal prosecutor suggested an Arab engineer who was an associate of Dhafir's might be proficient in fashioning "dirty bombs." A federal magistrate denied bail to the oncologist, saying he might escape to Canada.

In January of 2001, I handled press relations for an organization, Conscience International, which donated $150,000 worth of medicine, eyeglasses, school supplies and medical books directly to hospitals in Iraq, all without U.S. government authorization. Its goal was to challenge the sanctions.

The press response was phenomenal. You would think such "high-profile" criminals would be prosecuted. Well, no one was! There was no need for witches as the war on terror hadn't started yet.

Peter Wirth

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