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Letters: China Opera; Gitmo Prosecutor

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Listeners weigh in on coverage of a Chinese production of Puccini's opera Turandot and an interview with Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who resigned late last year as chief prosecutor of the military tribunals taking place in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


I'm Melissa Block


And I'm Robert Siegel. This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

BLOCK: Now some of your comments on yesterday's program. First, a correction brought to our attention by some listeners.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: We aired a story yesterday about Giacomo Puccini's opera "Turandot," which he set in mythical China. Puccini never finished it, and the Chinese government recently commissioned a new ending for a performance to inaugurate its National Center for the Performing Arts.

BLOCK: Your story erroneously states that "Turandot" is the only Western opera set in China, writes Chris Rank(ph) of Bloomington, Indiana. You are forgetting John Adams' "Nixon in China" of 1985, which is widely performed, and a seminal and enduring work.

SIEGEL: There are at least two others, both from the 19th century, adds Lyle Neth(ph) of Newart, Delaware, "Le chevel de bronze" by French composer Daniel Auber, and "The Mandarin's Son" by Russian composer Cesar Cui. Although both are admittedly comedies and thus presumably less worthy of comparison to Puccini's work, each experienced some popularity. Who knows what other Western-Sino inspired operas have been overlooked? The lesson here is to avoid such words as only, never or always, unless one is absolutely sure of using them.

BLOCK: Thanks to our listeners for that guidance and those corrections.

And moving on now to other comments. Yesterday I spoke with Air Force Colonel Morris Davis. Late last year he resigned as chief prosecutor of the military tribunals taking place in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He said the process had become too driven by politics and political appointees. Earlier this week, Colonel Morris testified on behalf of detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan, and he spoke with me about that.

Colonel MORRIS DAVIS, (U.S. Air Force): I think what we all agree on is he's entitled to a fair trial. And as I've said, I've reviewed the evidence and I think there is ample evidence to prove his guilt and I think he ought to be held accountable. But it ought to be in a system of justice that we can be proud of and not ashamed of.

SIEGEL: Colonel Davis is exactly right when he says that, as guilty as a defendant might appear, he is still entitled to a fair trial.

BLOCK: That's from listener Alexandra Beaver(ph).

SIEGEL: She continues: Our judicial system is founded on that premise, and the government's disregard of it has been a tragedy for this country. I know Colonel Davis will be called all variety of names, but as a fellow lawyer I wanted to tell him that some of us consider him a true patriot.

BLOCK: And we received this e-mail from Frank Nismith(ph) of Sunset Beach, North Carolina: I can recall when I would get that tingle on the back of my neck because of an intense attack of patriotism, he writes. I am 81 years old, and it has been a long time since I had that feeling. In fact, about two weeks ago I told my wife that I would not raise our flag until after a new president is inaugurated. I was in my car when I heard your interview with Colonel Davis, and I had a tinge of that feeling that I so long for. I came straight to our unfurled flag and raised it up our 25-foot pole. Surely, Mr. Nismith concludes, with men like this man I can find pride in my nation.

SIEGEL: We appreciate your comments. You can write us by going to

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