ABOUT THOSE PROSECUTION STATISTICS…. As baseless Republican criticism of administration counter-terrorism policies has intensified, the president’s team has come up with some pretty straightforward defenses. When the GOP gets hysterical over trying accused terrorists in the U.S. justice system, Obama administration officials remind folks that more than 300 terrorists have already gone through this exact same system — with nary a complaint from Republicans.
In response, instead of adapting their argument to reality, GOP attack dogs have decided that the “more than 300” number has to be a trumped up number and the result of Obama administration deception.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican, called the number “unsubstantiated” and questioned its validity. Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) called the number “disingenuous.” National Review called the figure “bogus.” Dana Perino concluded, “The 300 number is as false as false gets.”
So, who’s right? Newsweek‘s Mark Hosenball sets the record straight.
Maybe it’s time to stop some of the name calling over counter-terrorism policy and start checking the facts….
[I]t turns out that the Administration’s claims do appear to be well-documented — assuming that an official budget request sent to Congress by Bush’s last attorney general was truthful itself.
Yes, the figure Republicans insist was manufactured by the Obama administration was actually published in the budget released by Bush’s Justice Department. The document put the exact number of terrorists convicted through the civilian courts since 2001 at 319.
Indeed, George W. Bush actually used to boast about these numbers, delivering a speech in 2003 explaining that “more than 260 suspected terrorists have been charged in the United States courts, [and] more than 140 have already been convicted.”
Of course, the point here isn’t just to mock Republicans for being wrong about the nature of the data. That’s amusing, but it’s not enough.
The more meaningful angle here is that Bush/Cheney tried hundreds of terrorists in civilian American courts — without incident — and then imprisoned these terrorists on American soil. No one complained, no one freaked out, no one got hysterical. But now that Obama is keeping the same practice in place, it’s the subject of a huge debate, and the same policy that was considered perfectly acceptable as part of a “war on terror” is now perceived as proof of weakness.
The question, then, for Republicans isn’t, “Will you concede that the 300 figure is legit?” but rather, “Will you start being consistent in how you assess the exact same policy?”