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“Perhaps, this is its fundamental difference from the American one, if you proceed from James Winnefeld Jr.’s statements,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Northern Command contacted Inside the Ring to update information provided by the command for last week’s column on Bear bomber incursions.

According to the command, aerospace forces detected and tracked five Russian bomber incursions so far this year, and two of the bomber flights were met with U.S. or Canadian jet interceptors. The interceptors normally used for the incursions are F-15s or F-22s, or Canadian CF-18 jets.

In 2009, there were 17 incursions and 16 of the bombers were met by U.S. or Canadian fighter jets. In 2008, the Russians flew 12 bomber missions near North American airspace, prompting 11 jet intercepts. The 2007 figure was 18 bomber flights and 17 intercepts. And the period between 1999 and 2006 saw 11 detected encounters with Bear bombers, of which eight were intercepted by jets.

The Russian bomber incursions have increased since 2007 as a result of Russia seeking to maintain the “illusion of power,” Adm. Winnefeld, said in a recent interview. The Russian flights are designed to test U.S. and Canadian air defenses and jet interceptor reaction times as part of training for nuclear bombing missions.

Court win

The Obama administration won a major court victory this week that is sure to bolster its argument for holding civilian trials for suspected al Qaeda terrorists.

The issue: the Constitution’s speedy trial guarantee.

The question: how can the United States hold suspects for years at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without trial and then hope to try them in criminal court without violating the guarantee?

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan answered that question in the case of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had moved Ghailani from the war crimes tribunal system at Guantanamo to New York City. Ghailani’s lawyer quickly filed a motion to dismiss charges that the defendant participated in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

But Judge Kaplan ruled that the six-year delay did not prevent Ghailani from defending himself at trial scheduled for September.

Judge Kaplan also gave Mr. Holder a boost by endorsing the idea of trying war criminals in civilian courts.

“The court understands that there are those who object to alleged terrorists, especially noncitizens, being afforded rights that are enjoyed by U.S. citizens,” Judge Kaplan stated. “Their anger at wanton terrorist attacks is understandable. Their conclusion, however, is unacceptable in a country that adheres to the rule of law.”

If the ruling had gone the other way, it likely would have put the brakes on any future Gitmo transfers. It would have prompted Mr. Holder to send terror suspects back to the prison for war crimes trials instead of dismissing charges.

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