As a tangent to your story on the Trib and its distractions [Hot Type, September 29], did you notice that your quote buys the Bush line? “If they think humane treatment of Al Qaeda captives is fully consistent with the mission of upholding national security, the president has a heavy burden to prove them wrong” (emphasis mine).

This is fine for letters to the editor, which all use this right-wing talking point. It’s really unacceptable in an editorial. Do Al Qaeda terrorists deserve a fair trial, the right to confront their accusers, freedom from secretly coerced torture, and habeas corpus?

No. What criminal does? Do child molesters deserve requiring the state to prove them guilty? The point is that the purpose of trial, including the purpose of habeas corpus, is to determine whether they are guilty.

The new law grants the government the right to imprison anybody whom it accuses of belonging to an organization which Donald Rumsfeld says is a terrorist organization (the guy who told us he knew where the WMD were hidden) indefinitely.

Frank Palmer

N. Ridge