At a townhall meeting yesterday in New Jersey, John McCain blasted the Supreme Court decision allowing Gitmo detainees to petition U.S. civilian courts. McCain called it "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." McCain went on to say:
Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation and the men and women who defend it. This decision will harm our ability to do that....We are now going to have the courts filled with so-called habeas corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material....These are people who are not citizens. They do not and never have been given the rights that citizens in this country have. Now, my friends, there are some bad people down there. There are some bad people.
Meanwhile, for his part, Barack Obama praised the court's decision stating it was "a step toward re-establishing our credibility as a nation." With whom? Iran? al-Qaeda? If Obama steps into the No Spin Zone with O'Reilly, I hope O'Reilly nails him on this question.
I also hope McCain pounds Obama on this relentlessly and without mercy. Because this is McCain's chance to win the election. Does Obama stand with the safety of the American people or does he stand with the civil rights of terrorists? Obama can call that question a false choice all he wants. But it isn't a false choice. The U.S. Constitution isn't a suicide note. Obama should tell us why he thinks the people committed to destroying this country should be afforded the same rights as the people committed to protecting it.
I think this issue could resonate with the electorate in this country in a way that talking with Iran or even the Iraq War wouldn't. I don't think the American people want terrorists to be afforded the same legal protections as their families and law abiding friends and neighbors. The thought of Gitmo inmates being sent up to civilian courtrooms on U.S. soil is not a comforting one and McCain needs to make it clear that Obama sees terrorists as no different in status as law abiding American citizens and legal immigrants.