Dear Editor:

Last Saturday night, my wife and I were having dinner with friends at Bacci’s uptown. My wife started to act as if she couldn’t breathe. We got her out of the booth, and I attempted a Heimlich maneuver twice, unsuccessfully. A man who had been having dinner with his young family came to me and said he was an EMT and took over. After one attempt by him, she coughed up a piece of shrimp. By the time both she and the rest of us had recovered, we looked around to thank that young man, and he was gone.

We would like to thank this man whose presence may well have saved my wife’s life. We will be ever thankful to him for his forthright actions. We went to the EMS headquarters, but, so far, have not been able to thank him in person. Your family must be very proud of you; I know we are.

Bob and Randy Albers


Dear Editor:

I am really bewildered by the fact that our president felt compelled to express his outrage at the killing of a man responsible for the destruction of perhaps 60,000 human fetuses, but who has not found time to express outrage that an Islamic radical shot and killed army Private Long in Arkansas last week.

Kerry Evans


Dear Editor:

Just recently my husband Dick and I became involved with our county airport, Stevens Field. We have served on a few committees helping with various community activities. This past week as I am sure many of you have seen in the paper, the community of Pagosa Springs played host to 14 of our military men and women. These soldiers were wounded while serving our country; some injuries were visible while others were not.

Throughout the day on Sunday, May 31, in the skies above Pagosa Springs these Wounded Warriors were being flown to our community by angels. Yes, you read it right, I said angels. They are called “Angel Flight,” and they are volunteer pilots that give of their time and some along with their own planes in service of others. This week they were the angels that delivered to our community 14 very special guests. It started with the red carpet (literally) treatment at Stevens Field next to the FBO building. What a warm welcome at our county airport; it made Dick and I very pleased that we took the time to get involved with such a vital resource to our community.

These were 14 strangers being dropped off in a part of the country they had never seen or never heard of for that matter. They had no idea what to expect, they just knew this small town in Colorado was going to give them a week to remember. And we did!

Major Kudos to the Chamber for making this wonderful event possible; and to all the businesses, restaurants and lodging establishments for their incredible generosity. The local law enforcement, county commissioners, American Legion, Knights of Columbus and our wonderful local choirs; to all our citizens who showed they cared. Forgive me, I could go on forever. You know who you are; I don’t need to name names. Our community definitely gave them a week to remember. Starting with a parade and a moving welcome, horseback riding, river rafting, fishing, train rides, food and more food — all the great things our beautiful area has to offer.

When the angels returned on Saturday the 6th to Stevens Field to take our special guests home, we said good-bye to a group of very changed individuals from the ones that flew in the week before. Many had tears in their eyes as they said their goodbyes; all had something special to say about their week and what it meant to them.

What stood out the most, what they all will take home with them was, the sincere love and caring they felt from the citizens of Pagosa Springs. They came as strangers, they left feeling like family.

I can’t begin to express the pride we have in our community. We moved here because we really liked it; we are staying here because we love it and are proud to call it home.

Dick and Deidra Fortier

Hot air

Dear Editor:

Over the last year I have read the continuing Sawicki-Buslepp letter exchanges with some amusement and occasional dismay.

I feel compelled, however, to reply to the diatribe posted by Mr. Buslepp in last week’s SUN. His denigration of our military and intelligence professionals by comparing their interrogations of terrorist detainees at Gitmo with the torture and execution of millions of innocent civilians by the Third Reich in WW II concentration camps is unconscionable and betrays a depth of ignorance of the law, the interrogation activities at Gitmo, and the conduct of the Nazis at their death camps that is astounding. Let’s see — over 6 million civilians tortured and murdered vs. three terrorists waterboarded. That’s sure a solid moral equivalency!

It is interesting that he selects the extradition of Demjanjuk as the lead-in to his comparison. Demjanjuk argued that extradition to Germany for trial and incarceration would cause him severe pain and suffering and would violate U.S. and international torture law. Congress has defined “torture” in U.S. Code Title 18 Sec. 2340: “1). “Torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.” Obama’s Justice Department argued to the court that even if Demjanjuk were put in severe pain, there could be no torture unless he could establish that government officials had an evil motive to inflict severe pain and suffering on him. As they put it in their brief: “ ... as has been explained by the Third Circuit, CAT requires ‘a showing of specific intent before the Court can make a finding that a petitioner will be tortured.’ Pierre v. Attorney General, 528 F.3d 180, 189 (3d Cir. 2008) (en banc); ... “This is a ‘specific intent’ requirement and not a ‘general intent’ requirement” (citations omitted) ... An applicant for CAT protection therefore must establish that ‘his prospective torturer will have the motive or purpose’ to torture him. Pierre, 528 F.3d at 189.”

The brief goes on, saying that Demjanjuk had not shown that German officials had deliberately created and maintained conditions that were specifically intended to cause severe pain and suffering. The Third Circuit judges agreed with that argument. The “knowledge that pain and suffering will be the certain outcome of conduct,” the Pierre majority held, was “not enough for a finding of specific intent” to torture. The Sixth Circuit agreed and Demjanjuk has been extradited. Curiously, this is essentially the theory that OLC attorneys Bybee and Yoo outlined in their interrogation memos when they reasoned that unless CIA interrogators specifically meant to inflict severe pain and suffering on the high-level al Qaeda detainees they were interrogating, there could be no legally viable claim of torture.

Congress has amended Sec 2340, but when they did so they did not amend the definition of torture, nor did they add “waterboarding” as a specific example of “torture.” You don’t have to like it, but that’s the law and no amount of demagoguery or hot air in Pagosa will change that fact!

Jim Huffman


Dear Editor:

The treasurer for Archuleta County has lost her mind. Does she read The Pagosa SUN and see the foreclosure section and the real estate for sale section forever increasing? Talk about kicking people when they are down. I own several properties in Pagosa Springs and my properties have been on the market for years and have not sold. Yet on one property she is increasing my valuation by 73 percent! The taxes were already unaffordable — what will I do now? Talk about an economic disaster for Pagosa to fund a bankrupt county. How about Keren Prior takes a paycut of 73 percent? People of Pagosa need to bring their pitchforks and torches to the county in protest. This will be the final nail in the coffin for Pagosa. I won’t be building or putting anybody to work when you consider taxes, PAWS, sewer and impact fees are as much as the building cost itself. Our government is way out of control. Everyone should withhold their taxes and protest until the assessor comes down to earth and wakes up. She is single-handedly destroying a wonderful place to live. Prices have been dropping since late 2006 — this is no recent event.

Outraged and taxed to death. Let’s have another tea party.

Sean McMullen

St. Augustine, Fla.

Editor’s note: There is a protest process available to all property tax payers. Please read the related article in this SUN.

Class act

Dear Editor:

After a long period of time, following the birth, construction and beautiful completion of the Pagosa Mountain Hospital, I surprisingly got to spend a couple of days and nights as a patient in the facility. We are so fortunate to have such a beautiful hospital here in Pagosa, along with its doctors and wonderful nursing staff. They are the most caring and professional people I have come across in my life. Be assured, Pagosa, if you need hospital care, we have a class act right in our town.

Thanks, everyone.

David Pokorney

Economics 101

Dear Editor:

If you export every job possible, you should expect a drop in domestic economic stability and a sharp rise in bad debt and falling credit markets.

I hope we can knock the ideologues from the right and left off their perches.

Get that Chinese or Israel ring out of your nose and deal with reality.

Don Reid