A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley after his town hall meeting in Kalona, Iowa, just 15 miles from where I live in Washington. While I am pleased Grassley keeps in close touch with all 99 counties in the state, I was put off by many of the statements he made.
I asked Grassley what he thought of Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in November when he said that Guantánamo detainees who are acquitted of terrorism charges may still be kept in prison. What follows is the transcript of my conversation with Senator Grassley.
Hallman: Do you think suspects should continue to be held after they are acquitted?
Grassley: I would hope they would be.
Hallman: Even after they are acquitted?
Grassley: Do you want someone like the Sheikh running out in the United States? [presumably referring to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed]
Hallman: What is the purpose of the trial?
Grassley: That’s the same question I asked Holder when he came before us.
Hallman: What was his answer then?
Grassley: If I’m leaving the impression that these people are acquitted that they’re going to be out roaming our streets, we have authority under other law to hold them. That’s my point. Then why did you bring them here in the first place?
I’m glad Grassley sees no point in putting on a trial where the government ignores the verdict. What concerns me is that his solution is to refuse the detainees trials in the first place, instead of what I think is the more sensible solution of honoring the verdict.