The decision to try KSM in a civilian court may impact the 2010 elections, Politico explains:
“The narrative is playing out against the backdrop of the Illinois senate race — for the seat President Barack Obama once held — and the tri-state region surrounding New York City, where contentious campaigns are revisiting the politics of the post-Sept. 11 era, when GOP candidates regularly forced Democrats on the defensive by framing them as soft on terror.
In the wake of the Obama administration decision to try the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a civilian court in downtown Manhattan and the announcement that the administration is considering housing additional Al Qaeda terrorists in an Illinois correctional facility, Republicans are claiming that Democrats are naively placing ideology ahead of national security and undermining the war on terrorism.
And turning up the heat, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who is running for governor in Michigan, will try to bring to the House floor his Keep Terrorists Out of America Act, which seeks to “slow Obama’s ability to bring terrorists to U.S. soil by forcing state legislatures and governors to approve the transfer.”
The decision to give KSM all the constitutional rights of a U.S. citizen and then potentially house him and other terrorists in the U.S. may prove to be one of those few national-security issues that vaults to the top of the list of voters’ concerns and makes a difference (as the Iraq war did in the 2006 congressional elections). Not surprisingly, with initial polling showing that the decision is exceptionally unpopular, Republicans in multiple Senate and House races are making hay of the issue.
As a smart legal guru reminds me, Senate Democrats voted yesterday to provide funding for “new military facilities in the United States, or [to] modify existing ones here, to bring Guantanamo detainees to the United States (rejecting Senator Inhofe’s amendment that would have prohibited the use of funds for this purpose).” Just 12 days ago the Senate Democrats voted on funding to bring terrorists to the U.S. for trial (rejecting Senator Graham’s amendment that would have kept them in a military commission). It will be hard for Senate Democrats in 2010 then to argue that they are not facilitators in what many regard as one of the worst national-security gambits in U.S. history. The voters will get to render their verdict.