ISSUE | CIA TACTICS

In our name, shame

The much-awaited report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on the CIA's use of torture reveals behaviors and policies even worse than what has previously been known only in part ("CIA accused of brutality, dishonesty," Dec. 10). The torture performed by CIA agents or their contractors was ineffective, just as U.S. Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) has made clear. The acts committed were bestial and inhuman, and they were illegal under federal law and the Geneva Conventions. As we are a nation of laws, the officials responsible for either ordering or condoning this torture program must be prosecuted.

|Andrew Mills, Lower Gwynedd

Living and the dead

The bottom line on the just-released CIA report is that waterboarded terrorists are alive while 2,700 World Trade Center workers are dead, murdered by the terrorists' organization. Waterboarding produced much information. The CIA should be commended by a grateful nation for a job well done - not have a self-righteous congressional committee chairwoman reject requests to withhold this incendiary report.

|Peter F. Green, Cinnaminson, greenom123@aol.com

ISSUE | ENERGY

Other pipe dreams

That the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce held a forum on running pipelines through the region to export energy is informative, but it ought to prompt us to think of alternatives ("Summit: Build Marcellus pipeline," Dec. 6).

What is our region's long-term strategic plan? Who ought to be at the table? Perhaps, like some investors, we ought to agree to let the pipeline opportunity pass us by. Instead of anticipating inevitable cleanups, Philadelphia could build on becoming a clean and green ecotourism destination. We could decide to market Philly as a fantastic farm-to-table hub and build further on it as a travel destination noted for its diverse history.

Perhaps Philadelphia could be a green-energy hub and be the No. 1 city to design and cheaply manufacture solar panels that click together like Legos, are widely available, and are easy to install. Perhaps, building on Drexel University researchers' work, Philadelphia could be the world's source for long-lasting batteries.

I see an exciting future filled with possibilities if we turn pipelines into pipe dreams and, together, consider the options.

|Anne Patricia Minicozzi, Villanova

ISSUE | CHINA RELATIONS

Worlds apart

Harold Jackson quotes a so-called venture capitalist saying that American-style democracy is killing the United States, while China flourishes by favoring the good of the "collective" ("In China, a yearning for closer ties with U.S.," Dec. 7). But flourishes for whom? The government? Everybody? (Not possible.)

Indeed, the idea of giving a vast, insensitive, probably corrupt, and inefficient bureaucracy the responsibility to decide one's life is beyond questionable. It is robot-like. China is homogeneous; America is heterogeneous - a microcosm of the world.

|Henry Coxe, Ambler

ISSUE | NATIONAL IDENTITY

Strength in looking beyond ethnicity

What drives me nuts about Americans is how we place far more pride and emphasis on ethnicity than on nationality. We who have been here for generations still identify by ethnicity first and nationality second. To the world, though, we are seen as Americans.

That was an epiphany I had years ago when, in 1980, I was on an Air France jet and, preflight, the French pilot was introducing himself to passengers. When he got to me - I think because of my dark skin - he asked where I was from. As soon as I spoke, he declared, "Ah, you're an American." He didn't say "African American," just said plain old "American."

Some 35 years later, in a world increasingly hostile to Americans, it is time to stop deluding ourselves about who and what we are, how we see and don't see ourselves, and how the rest of the world views us. It's time to cease focusing on all that separates us and collectively embrace all that unites us - beginning with our nationality.

We may see ourselves as a salad-bowl nation, but to the rest of the world, in particular to those who hate us most, we are a melting pot. As 9/11 so vividly made clear, terrorists don't give a damn about our ethnicity. It has to be united we stand or divided we fall.

|Rahman Reuben, Elkins Park, rahmanreuben@yahoo.com

Shared prayer for well-being of newcomers

As Sisters of Mercy, we have a long history of working with immigrants. We have taught them in Catholic schools, taken care of them in our hospitals, given them the social services they need, and welcomed them in our parishes. Most importantly, we have prayed for their well-being and safety.

Others can help support immigrant families by supporting President Obama's courageous decision to provide relief for five million undocumented immigrants. It is time for Congress to shape a fair, compassionate, comprehensive immigration policy that unites families and provides a path to citizenship.

|Sister Diane Guerin, justice coordinator, Sisters of Mercy, Mid-Atlantic Community, Merion Station, dguerin@mercymidatlantic.org

ISSUE | CHESTER UPLAND SCHOOLS

Education pro earned turnaround more time

Joe Watkins, the Chester Upland School District receiver, has spent a significant portion of his career in education ("Bad grade for Chester," Dec. 5). After graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary, he was a college instructor and chaplain at Talladega College. As a U.S. Senate aide, he worked on state and national education issues. As a White House aide, he worked on education issues for the president.

He worked closely on national education issues with the U.S. secretary of education and with assistant education secretaries, as well as key national education leaders. He also worked closely with a host of college and university presidents while at the White House, including the presidents of the nation's historically black colleges and universities. Prior to the White House, Watkins served at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater, as assistant to Penn president Sheldon Hackney. More recently, he was chairman of Students First.

Watkins is grateful that Delaware County Common Pleas Court President Judge Chad F. Kenney confirmed his work in the school district by giving him more time to turn around a district long in distress. This leadership team needs to stay the course for the sake of the Chester Upland School District's children.

|Becky Taylor, communications consultant, Chester Upland School District, Chester