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February 18, 2008
Hillary would try Gitmo 6 in Criminal Court
It will be interesting to see how John McCain responds to this suggestion by Hillary Clinton that the Gitmo 6 and other prisoners should be tried in civilian criminal courts or "regular" military courts:
Clinton's response to questions about charges filed last week against six Guantanamo prisoners was the most far reaching of the three leading presidential candidates. Can McCain make this a campaign issue? Should he?
Her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said that the so-called "high-value detainees'' at Guantanamo should be tried in federal or traditional military courts, but did not say what actions he would take to move the trials.
Republican Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, said he plans to continue the military commissions even if the detention center in Cuba is closed, as he has advocated.
The Pentagon disclosed last week that it planned to seek the death penalty against six alleged al Qaeda co-conspirators held at Guantanamo Bay on charges that they conspired in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Those trials, however, are unlikely to begin before the end of the Bush administration — meaning it will be left to the next president to determine how those cases will be handled.
McCain has been a harsh critic of Guantanamo and our detainee policies in general. Given the widespread condemnation of the military tribunal plans of the Bush Administration, it will take someone with a strong belief in following that course to see it through to the end.
I don't think McCain cares that much about the Tribunal process and could very well ditch it for some kind of modified military trials. For that reason, I doubt whether he will criticize Hillary that much for her proposals.
This may be a litmus test for McCain that would tell us much about how he plans to prosecute the war on terror.