Following other GOP nominees running for office in Kentucky this fall, Republican Attorney General candidate Todd P’Pool has voiced support for sending the terror suspects charged in Bowling Green last month to Guantanamo Bay. The Hopkins County attorney is hoping to mirror state Senate President David Williams’s success with the issue in the gubernatorial race by calling on his opponent, incumbent Attorney General Jack Conway, to explain his position publicly.
“As a conservative and a prosecutor, I believe the first and foremost priority of government should be keeping our citizens safe from enemies—foreign and domestic,” P’Pool said in a news release. “Terrorists should be tried as enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, not here in Kentucky.”
Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi have been accused of plotting to send cash and a cache of weapons to al Qaida in Iraq. Both have been indicted on several counts and face life in prison if convicted.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., got the ball rolling on the meme, urging the White House to ship to duo out of the commonwealth because they pose a security risk. McConnell’s remarks on the Senate floor have not only made terrorism a wedge issue in the statewide races, but it has ignited a national debate with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Senate colleagues as well.
P’Pool is highlighting an interview where Conway supported closing the controversial military base, saying Conway’s position is unclear. While running for the U.S. Senate last fall, Conway told the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s editorial board that “we can keep prisoners secure in a lot of different places” but he “wouldn’t want to see (terror suspects) in Kentucky.”
Responding to a request for comment, the Conway campaign argues the decision over the venue should be left to the federal government, but the attorney general has been on the record against civilian trials.
“This matter is being handled by the U.S. Department of Justice, not the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office,” says Melissa Wideman, a Conway campaign spokeswoman. “And for the record, Jack Conway believes terrorists should be tried in military tribunals, not civilian courts. He took on President Obama on this issue when terror trials were scheduled to be held in New York City.”
Interestingly, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., who beat Conway last fall, told WHAS’s Joe Arnold he was open to the two men being tried in the state if necessary.
“I think the people who are on the ground and look at court safety and trials will have to look at that,” Paul said. “And I think the only other way to look at it in a logical way would be to look at the other terror trials and—like I say—we’ve had several hundred terror trials in the U.S.”