Patriot Act Change Would Give Judges Bail Leeway
By Mark Scott
Buffalo, NY – One of the changes in the USA Patriot Act that President Bush is calling for is a provision that would give judges more leeway in denying bail to suspected terrorists.
Judges have leeway to withhold bail for any number of crimes, but terrorism isn't on that list. It's called the presumptive denial of bail and is often used in cases against drug dealers. During his Buffalo appearance Tuesday, Bush said it should also be allowed to detain presumed terrorists.
"It's doesn't make any sense to me," Bush said. "It is very conceivable that we would haul in someone who is dangerous to America. And then, they receive bail and out they go."
Following the arrests of the Lackawanna Six in 2002, a lengthy bail hearing was held over the course of several days before a judge ruled five of the six defendants could be held without bail. But US Attorney Michael Battle said that came at a cost.
"We had to show our entire case to the court and the community to justify that they be detained," Battle said. "That put us at a strategic disadvantage as trial attorneys because the defense knew our whole case."
In the end, all six defendants pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism and Battle never had to prosecute the case. President Bush is lobbying hard for congressional approval to extend and expand the Patriot Act. His critics say the act is eroding the civil liberties of the American people.