The top Republican in the Senate invoked the high-profile acquittal of Casey Anthony on charges she murdered her daughter as a reason to oppose the use of civilian trials for terrorism suspects.
“These are not American citizens. We just found with the Caylee Anthony case how difficult is to get a conviction in a U.S. court,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on “Fox News Sunday.” McConnell has called on the Obama administration to place suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay and prosecute them in the military justice system.
“I don’t think a foreigner is entitled to all the protections of the Bill of Rights. They should not be in U.S. courts. They should be at Guantanamo and before military commissions,” McConnell said.
The Anthony case was handled by local prosecutors in a Florida state court, while federal terrorism cases are handled by federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s National Security Division. According to the federal data, federal prosecutors had an overall 93 percent conviction rate in fiscal year 2010. DOJ has defended the use of the civilian court system and says over 300 international and domestic terrorists are incarcerated in federal prisons. The Justice Department recently indicted a Somali man with alleged ties to Islamic extremist groups in federal court in New York.
DOJ has accused McConnell of distorting comments made by Attorney General Eric Holder about the use of civilian courts. A spokesman for McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his latest remark on Sunday.
Late update: In an email to TPM, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart writes “the Administration itself has tacitly acknowledged that once a foreign national is brought into this country and into the civilian system, the ability to indefinitely detain them is lost, regardless of whether they are convicted in a civilian court of criminal offenses. Civilian courts have ordered released into this country foreign nationals who have been convicted of violent felonies after the United States has been unable to deport them. That problem does not exist if foreign terrorists are detained at Guantanamo Bay.”