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Europe

German Press Review: Supremes Spank Bush

Papers across Germany generally praised the United States Supreme Court ruling holding that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay must be given the right to challenge their imprisonment in court.

The Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein Zeitung from Essen noted it was the same U.S. Supreme Court that declared George W. Bush the winner of the 2000 Presidential elections that has now delivered him such a blow. "The highest court has not contradicted the government's right to seize terror suspects for questioning but it has ruled that detention cannot occur indefinitely without legal justification," the paper wrote. According to the paper, "national security is happily used by the President as an excuse to override bothersome stipulations, now a court has ruled that George W. Bush has gone too far."

"It could not have been worse for the U.S. government," wrote the Financial Times Deutschland, "On the same day that the American-led coalition transferred sovereignty back to Iraqi's, U.S. President Bush's war on terror suffered a major setback when a Washington court ruled that terrorism suspects can challenge their detention." The paper said after the painful experience in Iraq that military might alone cannot overcome terrorism, the American's have learnt a second lesson: "that they are not above the rule of law." So what does this mean, the paper asked? "The U.S. has lost an important fight in the war against terror -- and that is for credibility."

Bielefeld's Neue Westfälische opined that its now up to the new Iraqi interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, to ask the international community for support. Some concrete examples include training programs in Europe or by asking Iraq's neighbors for help with judges, lawyers, journalists or police and military assistance. The paper concluded that the transfer of fallen dictator Saddam Hussein to Iraqi custody was "merely a symbolic act that won't help the Iraqis in their everyday life."

Commenting on the nomination of Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso as the next European Commission president, the General-Anzeiger in Bonn wrote: "the good Europeans were not wanted. Now we have a Portuguese European who has so far had little to do with European politics, is a friend of the U.S. and, therefore, Great Britain, and a conservative who will please the majority of Christian Democrats in the European Parliament". But the paper pointed out, his appointment has come with the condition that Germany's Günter

Verheugen take on the role of a super commissioner for industry and economics, making it easier for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to vote for the Portuguese politician. Certainly, concluded the paper, "Barroso is not the first choice, but that doesn't mean he isn't a good choice."

The Nürnberger Nachrichten offered a more skeptical viewpoint. "To guide the expanded EU to success, a strong, visionary European is required," it wrote. "Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso fulfills some of these criteria, but above all he comes from the conservative side of politics, which will no doubt please his party colleagues who won such a resounding success in recent European parliamentary elections," the editorial said.

"Barroso isn't known in his home country as a fencesitter for nothing," proclaimed the editors of the Mittelbayerische Zeitung in Regensburg. "The career driven 48-year-old is famous for seldom having his own opinion and agreeing with everyone else," the paper wrote, noting that Barroso was once a Maoist. But, it added, "that was a long time ago, and now he's the darling of European conservatives."

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