June 19th, 2008
01:45 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain backers supported legal measures for terrorists

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/16/art.mccain.6.16.jpg caption="McCain's campaign has accused Obama of maintaining a 'September 10th mindset.'"](CNN) - John McCain and the Republican National Committee have issued sharp words for Barack Obama this week after Obama suggested in an interview that the United States can combat terrorism "within the constraints of the Constitution."

One McCain adviser said such comments demonstrate Obama’s foreign policy "weakness" and his "September 10th mindset."

But in consecutive days, the McCain campaign has attacked Obama's so-called "law enforcement approach" by offering up a pair of high-profile Republican surrogates who themselves have appeared to favor legal avenues for prosecuting terrorists.

The McCain campaign pressed their case against Obama on Thursday by convening a conference call with former GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

Thompson accused Obama of being "inconsistent on matters of national security and foreign policy" and criticized Obama's support for last week's milestone Supreme Court ruling, which determined that terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay should be granted habeas corpus rights.

But during Thompson’s presidential run, he also appeared to support legal pathways if Osama bin Laden were captured.

Thompson told CNN’s John King in September: "I think bin Laden is more of a symbolism than he is anything else."

He also told the Associated Press in South Carolina last fall that if bin Laden were captured, "we've got due process to go through."

Thompson's campaign later clarified that the candidate meant to say that due process should be conducted through a special military court - and added that bin Laden should be treated like the the other detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Yesterday, the McCain camp convened a conference call with former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said it was a "real problem" for Obama to say that the criminal prosecution the four men accused of bombing the World Trade Center in 1993 was "correctly handled."

However, the Democratic National Committee was quick to point out that when Giuliani was mayor in 1994, he struck a slightly different chord: the terror convictions, he said, demonstrated "that New Yorkers won't meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon - the law."

Giuliani also told CBS Evening News at the time: "I think it shows you put terrorism on one side, you put our legal system on the other, and our legal system comes out ahead."

soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. ml

    there should not be limits of fighting terrorism, just do not go on the level of terrorists.

    June 19, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. Cindy in California

    The Supreme Court issued the ruling, not Senator Obama.

    June 19, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Franky

    By the way, Rudi Giuliani is smart??? Isn't he the same guy who thought Terrorism was the answer to this election??? And isn't he the same guy who couldn't make up his mind??? No offense to him but the only New Yorker I'll rather listen to is Hillary. I don't listen to someone who believes in fantasies.....unless is myself! LOL!!!

    June 19, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. gary


    June 19, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Richard

    Go McCain
    I am one of those dumb white men that want you in office.
    I need to have someone with a military background protecting our country.

    June 19, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Rea

    Go McCain
    I am one of those dumb white men that want you in office.
    I need to have someone with a military background protecting our country.

    June 19, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Independent in DC

    Obama's gonna win this in a landslide...mark my words.

    June 19, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Chris from San Antonio

    Did I read that correctly? The GOP is attacking Obama for wanting to stay within the confines of the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND?

    Facepalm just doesn't quite describe that.

    June 19, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Talent Scout

    Fred Thompson should go back to acting. At least that way he could pretend to be someone who's comments actually mean something. ALTHOUGH his acting skills didn't help him stay in the race..I guess he just can't seem to get his roles straight...

    June 19, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Gorbashov, Long Beach, Ca.

    Republican hypocrits? No, say it isn't so! Puh-lease.

    Get used to it.............these people are as sharp as a butter knife!

    Obama/Nunn in 2008 and beyond!

    June 19, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Chris from NY

    What McCain camp haven't yet realized or knew but refused to acknowledge is the fact that Obama is a consitutional lawyer. I believe he knows what he's talking about when he stated how he planned to handle the terrorists in his regime within the constrainsts of the American constitution . I can't say the same for McCain or for those defending him.

    June 19, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. sarah

    isnt fred thompson some washed up actor who is totally out of the political loop?

    June 19, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  13. bitter

    Americans cannot afford anymore of the "Republicans experiences"-they have put us in debt 9.3 Trillion dollars .

    June 19, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. La Raza

    People are actually considering voting for McCain? I find this amazing.

    June 19, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Franky

    "The only to thing to fear is fear in itself"

    Person 1: I can't vote for someone who doesn't have national security credentials! This is my life at risk here!

    Person 2: I can't vote for someone who doesn't have any experience!

    Person 3: This is the future of our country! Everything is at stake!

    Person 4: And I defnitely can't vote for someone who doesn't share my values and issues! is unacceptable!

    Person 5: Huh, guys??? So, how are we gonna pay our bills then???

    June 19, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. Randal NYC

    I would normally agree with the terrorist being judge by a millitary tribunal. But being a NYer at the time of each WTC attack, both under Rudy's watch, I have to question the position of the republicans.

    First of all, Rudy is a snake.

    Second, Obama seems to have faith in the American justice system and I cant argue with that. Seems a bit risky, but that quote from Rudy does sum up the way I feel about it.

    Finally, the republicans have used the constitution as toilet paper for the last 8 yrs so I wont be taking any moral lessons from them

    June 19, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. velmeezee

    Positive stories about McCain...are there any? I haven't heard of him really doing ANYTHING lately, except having barbecues, counting the days since Obama's last visit to Iraq (only he knows why that's so important), and trying to figure out how to make friends online. He could have been doing things like helping make sandbags in the midwest, developing ideas for alternative energy production instead of taking the easy way out, and taking steps to improve foreign relations...oh but I guess those tasks are too tedious and presidential for McCain. He really is at a time in his life where he should be taking things slow. Maybe we all misunderstood his mumbling and he really meant to start RETIREMENT not run for PRESIDENT. That would explain so much...

    June 19, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  18. Nicole in NE

    Fair trial IS what seperates us from terrorists. period.

    June 19, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. Val

    Sen. McCain surely you will make a fine President. America is proud of you.

    Together We Can! United We Will!

    McCain 08! McCain All The Way!

    June 19, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. Obama 08

    And people want this man running the country??

    American Dreamer: What positive stories about McCain?? This man is a disaster and so is his campaign...the only thing he does is change his mind and try to smear Obama...

    June 19, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Noah

    Who cares about Fred Thompson. He should just go back to acting which he's not very good at in the first place

    June 19, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. raf

    Wait, are they seriously criticizing the idea that we should follow the Constitution? That it doesn't apply after Sept. 11, and to want basic rights like due process is a "September 10th mindset"?

    That's an unbelievably stupid case to make.

    June 19, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    McCain, you are really sad. Your whole campain is showing signs of desperation. You are old and you need to go home and sit and rest.
    You and Cindy could easily be Barack and Michelle's grand-parents, you are old enough. So just take it easy, you got me feeling sorry for you and I really don't like you!

    June 19, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  24. Angi's mom

    Each president recites the following oath, in accordance with Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

    Enough said.

    Thank you, Mr. Obama, for bringing sanity to Washington.

    June 19, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
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