Will U.K. Emulate America's "Draconian" Anti-Terror Laws?
Thursday's lead by London bureau chief Alan Cowell updates the search for the London terrorists ("British Seeking 5th Man, Thought To Be Ringleader") and samples some local flavor off of talk shows and TV. Tony Blair (or at least, "the government") comes in for more Cowellblame.
"In radio talk shows and in e-mail messages to television stations, Britons seemed puzzled - and annoyed - about the causes of the attack. Some expressed frustration with the government's close alliance with the United States in its campaign against terrorism, which has led to two wars."
Cowell also seems to assume the United States has "more draconian anti-terror laws."
"The notion of more draconian anti-terror laws has raised concerns that Britain will forfeit its long-standing commitment to tolerance and civil rights in the name of a war on terror modeled on that of the United States. But Mr. Clarke, the home secretary, argued that civil rights had to be balanced against the needs of security."
Cowell made the same point about allegedly "harsh" U.S. anti-terror measures in January 2004, while covering an overseas talk by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft: "Mr. Ashcroft also faced wide criticism of the harsh measures he had taken to combat terrorism.Ashcroft joked at a lunch gathering, apparently referring to questioning in the United States about the extent to which civil liberties have been subjugated to security measures taken in the name of pre-empting new terror attacks."
In neither case did Cowell provide examples of these harsh, "draconian" measures.
For the rest of Cowell on the London terror attacks, click here.
An "Eloquent" Terror Supporter
Eric Lichtblau is impressed with the "eloquence" of convicted terror supporter Ali al-Timimi in Thursday's "Scholar Is Given Life Sentence in "Virginia Jihad' Case."
Lichtblau began: "An influential Muslim scholar, whom prosecutors called a 'purveyor of hate and war,' was ordered on Wednesday to spend the rest of his life in prison for inciting his young followers in Northern Virginia to wage war against the United States in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. The scholar, Ali al-Timimi, was defiant to the end, telling a federal judge as he was about to be sentenced that he considered himself a 'prisoner of conscience' who was being persecuted for his strong Muslim beliefs."
Buried halfway in the story are the actual charges he was convicted on: "The jury convicted Mr. Timimi on charges of conspiracy, attempting to aid the Taliban, soliciting treason and soliciting others to wage war against the United States, and aiding and abetting the use of firearms and explosives. The last charge carried a mandatory life sentence."
Afterwards Lichtblau comments on Timini's "eloquence": "Mr. Timimi delivered to the court an impassioned and often eloquent speech that lasted nearly 10 minutes, touching on Greek and Roman philosophy, religious history and the United States Constitution. Quoting Aaron Burr, Mr. Timimi said the idea that a cancer researcher like himself would incite his followers to violence was the stuff of 'crudities and absurdities.' He said that he and other Muslims had been 'denied justice' for speaking about controversial religious ideas and that his prosecution reflected an abandonment of an American tradition of protecting individual liberties."
What Lichtblau leaves out: Timimi also compared himself to Socrates. Another thing left out of the Times (which was more interested in Timimi's closing rant) but noted by the Washington Post: "The heart of the government's evidence against Timimi was a meeting he attended in Fairfax on Sept. 16, 2001, five days after the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. Timimi told his followers that 'the time had come for them to go abroad and join the mujaheddin engaged in violent jihad in Afghanistan,' according to court papers."
For the rest of Lichtblau on the Virginia jihad case, click here.
A Front-Page Reprieve for Rove
The Times takes a break from Karl Rove, placing White House reporter Richard Stevenson's Thursday take, "Bush Says He Will Withhold Judgment on Rove Inquiry," on page 20 instead of on Page One, where the last two Rove stories received star billing.
There's also a slight change of tone in Stevenson's latest: "President Bush said Wednesday that he would withhold judgment on whether Karl Rove, his senior adviser and political strategist, had identified an undercover C.I.A. operative in a conversation with a reporter for Time magazine. Mr. Bush's comment came nearly two years after he suggested that he would fire anyone in his administration who had knowingly leaked the identity of the operative, Valerie Wilson. Her naming has led to a federal grand jury investigation."
Those words "suggested" and "knowingly" are a bit of a climb down from Stevenson's Tuesday's lead story, which opened with this bald statement: "Nearly two years after stating that any administration official found to have been involved in leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer would be fired."