The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on habeas corpus and suspected terrorist detainees has faded a bit on the political world’s radar, but the McCai
June 25, 2008

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling on habeas corpus and suspected terrorist detainees has faded a bit on the political world’s radar, but the McCain campaign continues to believe the issue will benefit their candidate. Indeed, just this afternoon, McCain’s in-house blogger blasted Barack Obama’s campaign for “conflicting answers” on whether Osama bin Laden would be entitled to habeas. The blogger admonished Obama for trying to “have it both ways on this issue.”

That’s an interesting choice of criticisms.

John McCain initially responded to the Supreme Court ruling with mild disappointment. “[I]t is a decision that the Supreme Court has made,” McCain said. “Now we need to move forward.” A day later, McCain said the high court’s ruling was “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” It was quite a rapid reversal.

McCain spent the ensuing days bragging about his support for indefinite detention, which is odd, considering that McCain adopted Barack Obama’s position on the issue as recently as three years ago. Here’s what he told Tim Russert June 19, 2005, which as you’ll notice, is the exact opposite of his position now:

“Now, I know that some of these guys [at Guantanamo] are terrible, terrible killers and the worst kind of scum of humanity. But, one, they deserve to have some adjudication of their cases. And there’s a fear that if you release them that they’ll go back and fight again against us. And that may have already happened. But balance that against what it’s doing to our reputation throughout the world and whether it’s enhancing recruiting for people to join al-Qaeda and other organizations and want to do bad things to the United States of America. I think, on balance, the argument has got to be — the weight of evidence has got to be that we’ve got to adjudicate these people’s cases, and that means that if it means releasing some of them, you’ll have to release them.

“Look, even Adolf Eichmann got a trial.”

Imagine, just for a moment, what the right would do if Obama said, for the sake of our national reputation, that we might have release terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Indeed, if we took McCain’s quote, attributed it to Obama, and sent it to Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, they’d talk about little else for the rest of the year.

Perhaps Michael Goldfarb, McCain’s in-house blogger, can remind us again of which candidate is offering “conflicting answers” and trying to “have it both ways on this issue.”

At this point, I’m confused.

Can you help us out?

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