ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell today joined a chorus of critics in the wake of the Ahmed Ghailani verdict – an acquittal on all but one of 285 charges – in arguing that it is “proof” that the Obama administration has a “deeply misguided” and “potentially harmful” approach to prosecuting terrorists.
The acquittal, McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor, is “all the proof we need that the administration’s approach to prosecuting terrorists has been deeply misguided and indeed potentially harmful as a matter of national security.”
The Senate GOP boss recalled Attorney General Holder’s comments last year that Ghailani would be “held accountable” for his actions in civilian court.
“Most Americans wondered why we would even take the chance,” McConnell said today. “And now they’re wondering when the administration will admit it was wrong and assure us just as confidently that terrorists will be tried from now on in the military commission system that was established for this very purpose at the secure facility at Guantanamo Bay, or detained indefinitely, if they cannot be tried without jeopardizing national security.”
“When it comes to terrorism, we should err on the side of protecting the American people.”
McConnell made no mention of the fact that the one charge that Ghailani was convicted on carries a minimum sentence of 20 years. But the Kentucky lawmaker is now the latest Republican to rip the administration for the verdict.
In a statement last night, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the verdict is evidence that not using military commissions is a decision that puts the country “at risk.”
“We are at war with Al Qaeda. Members of the organization, and their associates, should be treated as warriors, not common criminals. We put our nation at risk by criminalizing the war,” Graham said. “Going forward, I once again strongly encourage the Obama Administration to use military commissions to prosecute enemy combatants, particularly the 9/11 conspirators like Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”