Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's culture war counterterrorism campaign against federal trials for suspected terrorists contrasts rather starkly with the junior Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul:
"I think in this instance, if you capture them here, I think the federal courts probably can take care of them much more swiftly than Guantanamo and actually give them very lengthy sentences if they are found guilty," Rand Paul said.
Paul points to more than 400 convictions of other terror suspects in the United States.
“There's ample evidence that we can try people here [and] imprison them,” Paul said. “And then we get away from the backlash we get from other countries if we hold people without determination."
McConnell on the other hand, is busy trying to spread panic, arguing that the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial should guide American national security policy. McConnell recently seized on the arrests of two Iraqi nationals in Kentucky on terrorism charges to argue that they should be deported to Guantanamo and tried in military court, even though there's not a single prior example of a domestic arrest leading to a military commissions trial.
I hadn't realized that McConnell and Paul had taken such different stances on the issue, particularly since Paul appears to have shifted his position since running for office. It's nice to see he's not playing along. As it stands, some former Bush administration officials are scratching their heads over the GOP's efforts to restrict forum choice from the Obama administration, since the "hybrid" model is identical to his predecessor's:
As originally conceived, Guantanamo was not so much designed for terrorism suspects captured in the United States or for U.S. nationals. It was originally conceived for foreign terrorists captured abroad, said Bradford Berenson, a former White House legal adviser during the George W. Bush administration.
"Even the most hawkish Bush administration officials would never argue and did never argue that civilian courts should not be used," Berenson said. "They simply argued that military courts should be available and used where appropriate."
Well that was before Obama became president.