Today, President Obama announced that he “will resume military tribunals to try suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but officials made clear they’re not giving up on trial in civilian courts and are still considering their options for trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused 9/11 plotters.” Obama also “signed an executive order formalizing a process for the United States to continue indefinite detentions of suspects without trial.”
Also today, Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano, subbing for Glenn Beck on his television show, hosted Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to talk about a variety of issues. At one point, Napolitano mentioned Obama’s announcement and queried the two senators about their positions on indefinite detention. Lee and Paul both broke with the standard positions of their party, slamming the policy and endorsing trials for terrorism suspects instead. Paul said that he had met with a mother of a 9/11 victim who said that what she really wanted to see was justice, and that the best way to do that was to “have trials.” Lee said that detaining someone who “has been tried and found not guilty” is “particularly problematic”:
NAPOLITANO: Today the president signed an executive order calling for indefinite detention for people at Guantanamo Bay. Stated differently, he wants to hold them there as long as he wants to hold them there. Something he spoke out against when he was in the Senate. Will the Senate go along with that?
PAUL: The interesting thing is I spoke to a mother who lost her someone on 9/11 in the Twin Towers attacks. She said to me she wants justice. And justice should be a trial against the people who are responsible for this. So indefinite detention I don’t think is a good idea. Let’s go ahead and have trials and have justice.
NAPOLITANO: Last question Senator Lee. I know in your youth you clerked for a justice of the supreme court of the United States. Do you think the Supreme Court would ever go for something no western government has ever claimed? The power to detain to incarcerate after acquittal? After a jury finds them no guilty? They still go back to jail? What’s the sense of having a trial?
LEE: It certainly seems very unlikely given the tea lives that have been over the past few years. Particularly in light of the scenario that you painted just a minute ago in your question to Senator Paul, when you have someone who has been tried and found not guilty — ongoing detention after that seems particularly problematic.