Sen. McCain Suggests Only Rationale For Terror Trials Is To "Employ A Lot Of Security People"

December 21, 2010 12:31 pm ET — Alan Pyke

Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) political run from the serious center to the lunatic "danged-fence" fringe has been painful to watch for those who remember him as the more thoughtful Republican alternative from 2000. This morning on Don Imus' Fox Business show, McCain continued his sad slide from statesman to crank by channeling Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on civilian trials for Guantánamo Bay detainees.

After McCain called the idea of a public civilian trial for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "one of the nuttiest proposals I've ever heard come out of any administration," Imus asked the former presidential candidate to explain the thinking behind civilian trials. McCain suggested that the only rationale was that "they wanted to employ a lot of security people." That's reminiscent of Rep. Gohmert's insane suggestion in November 2009 that "they're trying to create a new jobs bill by allowing terrorism back in New York."

Yet what came next was almost more disappointing, as McCain claimed not even to know why anyone would favor civilian trials.

MCCAIN: Well I think we have military commissions, and that's the place for these trials and they should be held in Guantánamo. We have a large court set up there that— where we could get the job done and y'know, I— this business of, of trying KSM in New York City was probably one of the nuttiest proposals I've ever heard come out of any administration.

IMUS: What was the point of this, do you know? What was their rationale?

MCCAIN: In New York City? [crosstalk] they wanted to employ a lot of security people, it would've taken hundreds or thousands to make sure that that trial was secure. I'm— I never understood that rationale, it was cra— it was nutty.

IMUS: But I'm talking about this trial.

MCCAIN: Oh. Um. I dunno why they're doin' what they're doin', Don. We have provisions for military commissions to carry out trials. We have trained military lawyers. We have a place in Guantánamo to, to get it done. And so I have not um, I've not understood why they, why they're doing what they're doing.

Ignorance of the opposing argument in this case is inexcusable, so let's get the senior Arizona senator up to speed.

Progressives favor civilian trials for terror detainees because the military tribunal system was designed to allow indefinite detentions, torture, and trials where the accused could not see all the evidence against them.

Progressives favor civilian trials for terror detainees because they return stiffer sentences than do tribunals, as the chief military prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay himself has written.

Progressives favor civilian trials for terror detainees because we know the country's strong enough to uphold the constitutional justice system even in the face of terrorists and madmen.

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