David Keene of the American Conservative Union, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, and former congressman/Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr are backing a proposal to send Guantanamo Bay detainees to a prison in Illinois, as well as President Obama’s plan to try terrorism suspects in federal courts. The three conservatives have long been members of the Constitution Project, and spoke out against Bush-era civil liberties abuses, too, but this push is getting a lot more attention.
From a statement issued by the trio:
We are confident that the government can preserve national security without resorting to sweeping and radical departures from an American constitutional tradition that has served us effectively for over two centuries.
Civilian federal courts are the proper forum for terrorism cases. Civilian prisons are the safe, cost effective and appropriate venue to hold persons convicted in federal courts. Over the last two decades, federal courts constituted under Article III of the U.S. Constitution have proven capable of trying a wide array of terrorism cases, without sacrificing either national security or fair trial standards.
Likewise the federal prison system has proven itself fully capable of safely holding literally hundreds of convicted terrorists with no threat or danger to the surrounding community.
The scaremongering about these issues should stop.
Barr has a unique position in the conservative coalition–he left the GOP to run for president as a Libertarian candidate, but his campaign is not seen to have spoiled anything for the McCain-Palin ticket. Keene and Norquist remain conservative powerhouses, and the former played key role in making Doug Hoffman’s NY-23 campaign into a national cause.