Republican John McCain vowed today that if he's president, Osama bin Laden will be either killed in combat or executed -- a stern response to Democrat Barack Obama suggesting Wednesday that he would put the terrorist mastermind in the equivalent of the Nazi war crime trials after World War II to avoid making him a martyr.
"Senator Obama is obviously confused about what the United States Supreme Court decided and what he is calling for," McCain said in a statement issued by his campaign. "After enthusiastically embracing the Supreme Court decision granting habeas in US civilian courts to dangerous terrorist detainees, he is now running away from the consequences of that decision and what it would mean if Osama bin Laden were captured. Senator Obama refuses to clarify whether he believes habeas should be granted to Osama bin Laden, and instead cites the precedent of the Nuremburg war trials. Unfortunately, it is clear Senator Obama does not understand what happened at the Nuremburg trials and what procedures were followed. There was no habeas at Nuremburg and there should be no habeas for Osama bin Laden. Senator Obama cannot have it both ways. In one breath he endorses habeas for terrorists like 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and in the next he denies its logical conclusion of habeas for Osama bin Laden. By citing a historical precedent that does not include habeas, he sends a signal of confusion and indecision to our allies and adversaries and the American people.
"Let me be clear, under my administration Osama bin Laden will either be killed on the battlefield or executed," McCain continues. "Senator Obama's failure to comprehend the implication of the Supreme Court decision he embraced and the historical precedent of Nuremberg raise serious questions about judgment and experience and whether Senator Obama is ready to assume the awesome responsibilities of commander in chief."
UPDATE: Richard Danzig, a former Secretary of the Navy, who is one of Obama's security advisers, responded: "It is absurd that the same group of people who have failed to kill or capture Osama bin Laden for over six years are now arguing about what we should do if we capture him. Barack Obama will redouble our efforts against al Qaeda, target their leaders wherever we find them, increase our forces in Afghanistan and finish the fight there. In short, he will do what the Bush Administration hasnít done and John McCain wonít do -- make our top priority bringing bin Laden to justice and shutting down al Qaeda before they attack again. A bad decision that George Bush made and John McCain fully supported -- to divert forces from Afghanistan to Iraq -- left Osama bin Laden free to promote his vicious brand of violence, and empty tough talk canít reverse that fact or make up for bad judgment.Ē
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.