Expected Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney today gave a Bronx cheer for the Obama administration's decision to hold trials for the top 9/11 suspect and four alleged co-conspirators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, instead of as planned in New York City. “An inexperienced and naïve president has finally reversed himself on Guantanamo and terrorist trials; let’s hope he sees the light on his other flawed policies," the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement.
No constitutional rights for foreign terrorism suspects. In 2007, refused to rule out use of waterboarding to interrogate terrorist suspects. In 2011, his campaign said he does not consider waterboarding to be torture.
Back on April 21, 2006, the Massachusetts governor spent a few hours touring Guantanamo to buttress his presidential ambitions.
"Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo," he proclaimed as he hit the campaign trail. Brandishing his strong-on-national-security credentials, he declared that Guantanamo was "a symbol of American resolve."
"The base at Guantanamo is designed to hold and question enemy combatants who pose a threat to the nation or have intelligence value. Closing and relocating the facility to the heartland of the United States, as some have suggested, would pose an undue risk to innocent Americans and, as today's arguments demonstrate, could have profound legal implications. "So long as it remains a vital tool to keep America safe, I will fight to keep Guantanamo Bay open."
During the Presidential debate in South Carolina, Governor Romney stated that he wanted prisoners held in Guantanamo, and that doubling the size of the facility could be justified if the need existed. When asked about whether or not the CIA should torture a prisoner in a "ticking time bomb" scenario, Governor Romney noted that it was the President and not the CIA that would make this decision and that he supported enhanced interrogation but not torture. In another presidential debate, Governor Romney stated that he would not specify openly if techniques such as waterboarding were torture. He stated again that Guantanamo Bay was the appropriate place for detainees and not in a civilian jail with lawyers. This support for the use of Guantanamo was continued in campaign stops in which he stated that the facility at GITMO was the appropriate and legal place for detainees such as KSM. When President Obama finally recanted his push to hold civilian trials for KSM, Governor Romney stated that President Obama was naive for attempting to hold such a trial in a civilian court.
Governor Romney is a strong supporter of the use of the Guantanamo Bay facility to hold prisoners, the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, and the denial of habeas corpus and other legal rights to prisoners. He does not support civilian trials for prisoners such as KSM.
Some on the political right argue that by their actions, detainees have forfeited their right to legal protections. In 2008, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska mocked Obama's promise to close the prison. "Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights," she said. Mitt Romney's view at the time was that "Guantanamo is a symbol of our resolve. It's also just frankly smart to keep these people not on our soil and not to have them having access to our legal system." And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said last year of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: "We're at war. ... He did not rob a liquor store, he attacked our country."
“But I do not believe, as a presidential candidate that it’s wise for us to describe precisely what techniques we’ll use in interrogating people. I oppose torture. I would not be in favor of torture in any way, shape or form. As I just said, as a presidential candidate, I don’t think it is wise for us to describe specifically which measures we would and would not use. And that is something I would like to receive the counsel of not only Senator McCain but of a lot of other people. And there are people who for many, many years get the information we need to make sure to protect our country. By the way, I wanna make sure these folks are kept at Guantanamo. I don’t want people who are carrying out attacks in this country are brought into our jail system and be given legal representation in this country. I wanna make sure that what happen to Khalid Sheikh Mohamed happens to other people who are terrorists. He was captured, he was the so-called mastermind of the 9/11 tragedy, and he turn to his captors and he said, “I’ll see you in New York with my lawyers.” I presumed ACLU layers. That’s not what happened. He went to Guantanamo and he met G.I and CIA interrogators and that’s just exactly how it ought to be.”
"Today, the Supreme Court will once again hear arguments on the detention of captured terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay. Some people view Guantanamo as a symbol of American aggression. I view it as a symbol of American resolve. "Our country is asking young men and women in our military and intelligence services, and their families, to sacrifice beyond all knowing to capture or kill radical Jihadists before they plan and execute another attack on the United States. To win this fight, we must be able to detain and interrogate the terrorists they catch. "The base at Guantanamo is designed to hold and question enemy combatants who pose a threat to the nation or have intelligence value. Closing and relocating the facility to the heartland of the United States, as some have suggested, would pose an undue risk to innocent Americans and, as today's arguments demonstrate, could have profound legal implications. So long as it remains a vital tool to keep America safe, I will fight to keep Guantanamo Bay open."