Terrorist suspects still don’t have superpowers

We haven’t had to endure this nonsense in a while; I almost missed it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the Obama administration Tuesday to send two Iraqi nationals arrested recently in Bowling Green to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The two were charged with helping to plot attacks on U.S. troops.

“Sending them to Gitmo is the only way we can be certain there won’t be retaliatory attacks in Kentucky,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Now, there’s reason to believe McConnell doesn’t actually believe this garbage. It’s apparently part of an election stunt relating to Kentucky’s gubernatorial race, which is less than five months away. As Steve M. explained, “It’s not about terrorism. For Republicans, it never is. For Republicans, it’s only about winning — all the time.”

But in case anyone in Kentucky is frightened into believing this twaddle, the mere presence of two terror suspects in your state does not put you at risk. There are already hundreds of convicted terrorists locked up on American soil, not to mention the thousands of other violent criminals who are also locked up. Their existence has never led to “retaliatory attacks” or even attempted escapes.

McConnell is just engaged in another round of shameless demagoguery. It’s ugly, it’s cheap, and even for the Senate Minority Leader, it’s more than a little pathetic.

On a related note, I should also mention how pleased I was to see Attorney General Eric Holder take a firm stand in support of the American criminal justice system.

“Politics has no place — no place — in the impartial and effective administration of justice,” Holder said during a speech at the liberal American Constitution Society’s annual convention.

“Decisions about how, where, and when to prosecute must be made by prosecutors, not politicians,” Holder said. “And this is true for every case, whether it involves brutal terrorists or white collar criminals.”

“We see crucial national security tools, once again, being put at risk by those who disparage the American criminal justice system, and misguidedly claim that terror suspects cannot be tried safely in our civilian courts,” Holder said.

He added that when it comes to “disrupting potential attacks and effectively interrogating, prosecuting, and incarcerating terrorists — there is, quite simply, no more powerful tool than our civilian court system.”

We knew this, of course, but it’s heartening anyway to hear the Attorney General say it. Perhaps someone should send a copy of the remarks to Mitch McConnell.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.