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Past opinions provide perspective

Kent State, May 6, 1970

An S-R editorial examined the fatal shooting of four students during a war protest at Kent State University.

“The students as a group – and not necessarily those who were wounded or killed – were disorderly, violent and insulting to the guardsmen. The troops were not well-enough trained to ignore the jibes and, under provocation or fear, resorted to lethal force.”

It went on to say: “The original error was the resort to violence by the students. This error was compounded by the violent response of the troops. Both were doing, no doubt, what has come to be called ‘their thing.’ Both rationalized their actions as being justified, when, in fact, they were not – on either side.”

Woodward and Bernstein, May 2, 1973

An S-R editorial spotlighted the importance of a free press in exposing corruption.

“Among the several typically American freedoms that insured this result, the foremost was the freedom of the press. Foremost among the newspapers working to expose information of public significance was the Washington Post.

“Two young reporters of the Post, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, were on the public beat when five men were arrested in the burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters. From that beginning and ‘because there was an aroma about it,’ the Post kept the two reporters busy on the burglary and its ramifications for 300 days.”

The editorial also noted the work of the grand jury, prosecutors and judge, but concluded: “Of them all, the dogged work by Washington’s morning newspaper seems to have been the most fundamental.”

Abu Ghraib, May 4, 2004

The treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison prompted this S-R editorial.

“The shocking revelation that American soldiers were abusing and torturing Iraqis at a prison Saddam Hussein used for the same purposes seriously undercuts U.S. hopes to be seen as liberators rather than occupiers.

“A recent USA Today poll showed that we were already losing that battle: 71 percent of Iraqis see us as occupiers. The only way to turn that around is to order independent and open investigations into the practices at Abu Ghraib prison and other U.S.-run facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The photos taken at Abu Ghraib last fall show prisoners being forced to perform lewd and humiliating acts. Most Americans find the images sickening enough – but when viewed through the lens of a conservative Muslim culture, they become magnified.”

It concluded: “To regain any semblance of credibility, the military should step aside and allow an independent body to move forward. Such a group should include reputable Iraqis and human rights leaders. If it is true that this was an isolated incident, then the military should not object to having an independent inquiry. But if the charges are true, those involved – directly or indirectly – should receive severe punishments.”


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