Go read Steve Gilliard's post on the subject.
War: April 2004 Archives
Bush went to Buffalo yesterday to promote the Patriot Act. He chose it because it was the location of the prosecution of the "Lackawanna Six," but that's not a case that provides a convincing argument.
Even now, after the arrests and the anger and the world media spotlight, the mystery for neighbors in this old steel town remains this: Why would six of their young men so readily agree to plead guilty to terror charges, accepting long prison terms far from home?
But defense attorneys say the answer is straightforward: The federal government implicitly threatened to toss the defendants into a secret military prison without trial, where they could languish indefinitely without access to courts or lawyers.
That prospect terrified the men. They accepted prison terms of 61/2 to 9 years.
"We had to worry about the defendants being whisked out of the courtroom and declared enemy combatants if the case started going well for us," said attorney Patrick J. Brown, who defended one of the accused. "So we just ran up the white flag and folded. Most of us wish we'd never been associated with this case."
The Lackawanna case illustrates how the post-Sept. 11, 2001, legal landscape tilts heavily toward the prosecution, government critics contend. Future defendants in terror cases could face the same choice: Plead guilty or face the possibility of indefinite imprisonment or even the death penalty. That troubles defense attorneys and some legal scholars, not least because prosecutors never offered evidence that the Lackawanna defendants intended to commit an act of terrorism.
I bring this up because of the suicide car bomber in Riyadh today.
A suicide car bomber destroyed a Saudi security forces building in the capital Wednesday, killing a senior officer and at least nine other people.
Medical and security sources in Riyadh said more than 60 people were wounded in what an official said was the sixth attempt to mount such a "terrorist attack" in a week. Five others had been foiled.
The blast, which coincided with a visit to the city by a top U.S. official, tore the front off the six-storey administrative block. Saudi television showed uniformed security force personnel in hospital and said some children were also injured.
The kingdom, a key U.S. ally and the world's largest oil exporter, is battling a tide of Islamist militancy linked to Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, which Washington accuses of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities.
Last year, suicide bombs killed 50 people in Riyadh.
If a police state like Saudi Arabia can't prevent attacks with such tactics, what makes people think curtailing our liberties will make us safer?
After two days of firefights, a marine packed the personal effects of 12 fallen comrades at the combat outpost in Ramadi on Thursday. [Maurizio Gambarini/European Pressphoto Agency]
The President of the United States is on vacation again, but it's OK -- he's not skiing. Emphasis mine in the quote below:
Democrats criticized Bush for taking the Easter-week vacation while U.S. forces are struggling to put down an uprising in Iraq. Campaigning in Milwaukee, Sen. John F. Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, said: "I notice President Bush is taking some days off down at Crawford, Texas, and I'm told that when he takes days off, you know, he totally relaxes: He doesn't watch television, he doesn't read the newspapers, he doesn't make long-term plans, doesn't worry about the economy. I thought about that for a moment. I said, sounds to me like it's just like life in Washington, doesn't it?"
White House communications director Dan Bartlett retorted that Bush is "not skiing" in Texas, as Kerry did on a recent vacation in Idaho. He said Bush remains in contact with his military advisers and is spending Easter weekend with his family. "Most Americans will understand that," Bartlett said.
This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.
233 days since January 2001, or almost 80 days per year? Yeah, he's just a "regular guy." U.S. workers take an average of 10.2 vacation days a year after three years on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If I were President, I would probably not have continued with my month-long vacation after receiving a briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."
[I found the image above on the NY Times web site, but there was no link to make it larger. If someone finds a better version of the image I will replace it.]
UPDATED: I realize now that the briefing discussed was given to Bush after he was already in Crawford, Texas for his month-long vacation.