Obama advisers say bin Laden can appeal to U.S. courts
BILL SAMMON, The Examiner
Current rank: # 1 of 7,589
Barack Obama's foreign policy advisers said Tuesday that Osama bin Laden, if captured, should be allowed to appeal his case to U.S. civilian courts, a privilege opposed by John McCain.
Responding to questions from The Examiner, Sen. John Kerry and former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke said bin Laden would benefit from last week's Supreme Court decision giving terrorism suspects habeas corpus, the right to appeal their military detention to civilian courts.
“If he were to be brought back,” Clarke said of bin Laden, “the Supreme Court ruling holds on the right of habeas corpus.”
Kerry, who applauded the Supreme Court ruling, said it will be carried out by whichever candidate wins the presidency.
“The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that they have those rights,” he said. “If John McCain were president, he would have to give them those rights.”
Randy Scheunemann, McCain's senior foreign policy adviser, said those rights should not be extended to bin Laden or the hundreds of terrorism suspects being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
“The individuals we hold at Guantanamo are very, very dangerous people,” Scheunemann said. “To give them full access to the federal courts and the criminal justice system is fraught with danger, moving forward, and likely to make America less safe, unlike Senator Obama's claim of supporting the decision that it made America safer.”
On Monday, Obama applauded the civilian prosecution of terrorists prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
“In previous terrorist attacks -- for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center -- we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial,” he told ABC. “They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.”
Obama said President Bush has relied too heavily on military prosecution of terrorists, which has “given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, ‘Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims.’”
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Obama wants “to take a step back to the failed policies that treated terrorism solely as a law enforcement matter, rather than a clear and present danger. Barack Obama appears to believe that terrorists should be treated like criminals -- a belief that underscores his fundamental lack of judgment regarding our national security.”
The attack sounded familiar to Kerry, who was the Democratic presidential nominee four years ago.
“This is exactly what they tried to say back in 2004, and the record absolutely contradicts it,” Kerry told The Examiner. “Every Democrat voted to go to war and attack the Taliban and al Qaeda, the people who attacked us. That is not a [legalistic] approach.”