Earlier this week, Grayson sensibly condemned the Obama administration's decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and his co-conspirators in a New York City civilian court, rather then in the military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay.
Paul quickly issued a release stating that he, too, thought the 9/11 mastermind and company should be tried at Gitmo, and criticizing the Obama administration. According to Paul,
Foreign terrorists do not deserve the protections of our Constitution. These thugs should stand before military tribunals and kept off American soil. I will always fight to keep Kentucky safe and that starts with cracking down on our enemies.
Well said on Paul's part, though it was a bit of a surprise, given that some in the libertarian end of the party are not exactly aggressive about the War on Terror. Paul's statement tended to reassure that he would approach issues like the terrorist detainees with clear-eyed common sense.
But then the Grayson campaign trotted out three statements that Paul made last May -- statements that appear to contradict his condemnation of the Obama administration's decision to hold the KSM show trial in civilian court.
One such statement appeared on Paul's campaign site; it has since been removed, but is available by Google cache snap shot. That post said that Paul "couldn't agree more" with those who believe that Gitmo "significantly damaged the reputation of the United States" and should be "shut down." The Paul campaign now says that a volunteer posted the language without the campaign's permission.
Assuming, for sake of fairness, that the web site post cannot be attributed to Paul, we turn to two other statements that Paul spoke himself. In both, he asserts that the U.S. should just dump the terrorists back from whence they came.
On the Alex Jones radio show (May 21, 2009), according the the Grayson campaign, Paul said,
it's kind of unclear whether these people are guilty, not guilty. . . . So I really think deportation, sending them back to their country of origin might be the best way to go. And none of it's fair, because some of them have been held years and years.
Of course, that begs the question of what process is appropriate to determine whether "these people are guilty, not guilty." Deportation -- without an adjudication -- seems to give the suspected terrorists a pass; it's certainly not a conviction.
In Paducah (May 8, 2009), Paul said of terrorist detainees, "I think they should mostly be sent back to their country of origin or to tell you the truth I'd drop them back off into battle . . . you're unclear, drop them off back in Afghanistan. It'd take them awhile to get back over here."
The problem with Paul's approach is that it does not account for the recidivism rate among terrorists. What happens after we ship terrorists back to Afghanistan, as Paul suggests? Are these thugs more likely to wave American flags at our troops or set IEDs to kill them? If the latter, then we have just sent reinforcements to kill more Americans -- sort of a reverse surge.
Republican primary voters need to pay close attention to what Grayson and Paul say about Gitmo and the War on Terror. Grayson and Paul are virtually indistinguishable on fiscal issues: both support limited government and low taxes. Republicans must therefore identify those issues on which they differ -- such as what to do about foreign terrorists.