No Right to Reparations?

How is it that our courts can tell 17 American POWs that they have no right to reparations from their torturers?

I'm talking about 17 men who were captured during the Gulf War and tortured by Iraqi soldiers. Under U.S. law, they sued the Iraqi government in 2002 for damages. A judge awarded them a collective judgment of close to $1 billion. But now they can't collect and the U.S. Supreme Court won't hear their case. Wednesday on “DaySide” you heard from retired Marine Col. Clifford Acree; you know what he endured and you heard him say that all he wants out of this is that we send a clear message to other governments that there are repercussions for torturing our personnel.

The Bush administration, despite an otherwise strong support of our military, reportedly believes the new Iraqi government can't afford to pay these reparations and needs the money instead to rebuild the country. How do you feel about that? Here's one soldier's response:

This is atrocious that our government is turning its back on our POWs and not providing them their rightful due. They have served and done their duty and this is what they get? ... The president is wrong — and he got my vote — never again. I am a retired soldier.
—James Holland, Indialantic, Florida

Interestingly, two Marines in the audience Wednesday said they don't think it's right to seek reparations; they say our personnel take capture/torture as an occupational hazard when they enlist. Let me know what you think; my e-mail is

We'll also stay on the child handcuffing stories, as it seems more of them are coming to light. In the Florida case, I've learned that it was the girl's mother who called Rev. Al Sharpton to ask him to get involved (not the other way around). There is a lot of misinformation flying around about this case, as I'm finding in some of your e-mails:

If the parents weren't contacted first [by the school], why not? I also heard the mother of the five year old girl in Florida was actually kept away from her daughter and that the school wouldn't give her any information about the situation....
—Linda Kureger, Tomahawk, Wisconsin

Linda, according to school officials, they DID call the mom first; she told them she couldn't be there for at least an hour and they were forbidden to touch her child. So it appears they were stuck and had to opt for the last resort. It's possible this girl has an attitude problem; it's also possible she has a real developmental problem like ADD. In any case, it's worth remembering that the police did not put her in handcuffs as a PUNISHMENT; they were doing it to restrain her.

And here's another e-mail that just came in:

As a social worker for 19 years, I have seen kids cuffed at that age and removed from schools, day care centers, foster homes, etc., as their behavior was a danger to themselves and others.... As the years go by, kids at early ages are becoming more violent.... Something's gotta give here folks... We can't have it both ways. We can't expect schools to educate our kids and not discipline them nor stop them when the kid decides to take a dive off a table or desk...
—Barbara, Dover, Ohio

All I can say is, I long for the days of my old grade school principal, Alton Ison. He walked the halls with a sternness that no one messed with. He kept a large wooden paddle prominently displayed in his office and we kids knew he wasn't afraid to use it. His method worked.

See you on the air.


Watch "DaySide with Linda Vester" weekdays at 1 p.m. ET

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