April 10th, 2010
10:18 PM ET

What leader's death means for Poland

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/europe/04/10/poland.president.plane.crash/smlvid.kaczynski.afp.gi.jpg caption="Polish President Lech Kaczynski was 60." width=300 height=169]

Thair Shaikh

Experts say the deaths of senior military chiefs in Saturday's plane crash could have more serious implications for Poland than the loss of the country's president.

President Lech Kaczynski was killed Saturday when a plane carrying senior Polish officials on their way to a memorial service in Russia crashed at an airport in Smolensk..

Ninety-seven people were killed including the president's wife, the deputy parliament speaker, the deputy foreign minister and the head of the National Bank of Poland.

"The entire top military brass, including the chief of defense and all the services, were on the plane," said Tomas Valasek, of the Center for European Reform. "If that is true, then you're looking at a situation, in effect, of the decapitation of the military services."


Filed under: 360° Radar
April 10th, 2010
09:22 AM ET

Dear President Obama #446: Once again I'm afraid, no means no...

Reporter's Note: President Obama must now pick a new Supreme Court nominee. Which reminds me, I must pick up my dry cleaning…but first, a letter.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/04/05/stevens.supreme.court/smlvid.stevens.gi.jpg caption="Justice John Paul Stevens announced his decision to retire Friday." width=300 height=169]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

The speed at which suggestions for new Supreme Court nominees are pelting down upon you head is positively dazzling. Why Justice Stevens merely whispers that he’s going to retire, and the ear-grabbers are at work before he even tees up his first golf ball! Ah well, I suppose there is nothing to do except endure and do your best. However, I notice you said you will move quickly to replace him, and that has me worried, because I think I know what is on your mind. And I’m sorry to say, once again, I’m just not available.

Of course I would make an excellent Justice. We all know that, even Biden who appears to be almost mad with jealously. I am fair-minded, generous and disciplined at once. As I’ve told you, I’ve watched The Verdict, Twelve Angry Men, and a boatload of Law and Order episodes; and I’ve read most of the John Grisham novels, so I am more than merely acquainted with the law. Yet, I repeat, I will not take the job.

This pains me to say, since I generally believe in the old principle of doing whatever a president asks. But it would be such a mistake to turn to me in this case, just as it would have been before when I successfully steered you away and you wound up with Sonia Sotomayor. (Yes, yes, I realize she will always be a “second choice,” but let’s keep that our little secret.)


April 10th, 2010
08:45 AM ET

Polish president killed in plane crash

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/europe/04/10/poland.president.plane.crash/smlvid.kaczynski.afp.gi.jpg caption="Polish President Lech Kaczynski was 60." width=300 height=169]


Polish President Lech Kaczynski was killed early Saturday when the plane he was traveling in with his wife and a Polish delegation crashed at a western Russian airport, according to the Russian regional governor.

"There are no survivors," said Smolensk Governor Sergey Antufyev, according to his spokesman.

Ninety-seven people died in the plane crash, a Polish Foreign Ministry official told CNN.

Polish government officials were to hold an emergency meeting Saturday. At present, Prime Minister Donald Tusk is in charge of the government and the chief of parliament has taken over duties as president.

President Kaczynski, 60, had been traveling with a Polish delegation to Russia for the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Polish prisoners of war in the village of Katyn. Some 20,000 Polish officers were executed there during World War II.

The plane was approaching the airport at Smolensk, Russia - just a few miles east of Katyn - and probably hit some trees at the end of the runway, Paszkowski said.