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Commentary; Naked Power, Arbitrary Rule
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Turley, Jonathan
Date: Jul 21, 2003
Start Page: B.11
Section: California Metro; Part B; Editorial Pages Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Washington is a city that strives to satisfy every tourist want, from faux pictures with the president to tours of our most cherished scandal locations. Before coming to town last week, however, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made it clear that he would not be satisfied with the usual knick-knack souvenirs. He wanted something a bit more tangible: two British citizens scheduled for trial before U.S. military tribunals. It appears that he succeeded, though President Bush may soon regret that he could not pawn off a couple of snow globes and a T-shirt instead.

In their private meeting, Blair finally convinced Bush to suspend proceedings against the two men -- Moazzam Begg, 35, and Feroz Abbasi, 23 -- pending further discussions and possible transfer of the men. Bush appears willing to fork over the men as a personal favor to Blair, but such a transfer would further erode the already thin justification for the U.S. tribunals.

When Bush's past prejudicial statements were raised in a press conference with Blair on Thursday, Bush seemed to rush to fulfill the stereotype of cowboy justice by stating: "The only thing I know for certain is that these are bad people ... picked up off the battlefield aiding and abetting the Taliban." Of course, John Walker Lindh was taken off the battlefield for aiding and abetting the Taliban but was charged in a real court.

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