(Host) Vermont’s U.S. Senate candidates have very different views about President Bush’s plan to hold military trials for suspected terrorists.
Independent candidate Bernie Sanders says the President’s approach sets a very poor example for the rest of the world. Republican Rich Tarrant argues the U.S. needs to adopt policies to help prevent future terrorist acts.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) Congress is considering this issue because the United States Supreme Court ruled recently that it’s unconstitutional for the Bush Administration to hold military trials without specific statutory authority.
The fight over the President’s plan essentially focuses on two issues: Should testimony gathered from “coercive interrogations” be admissible at the trials and should prosecutors be allowed to present classified information to a judge without sharing the information with the defendant.
A group of Republican senators, led by Arizona senator John McCain, is strongly opposing these two provisions. Sanders says he supports McCain’s position.
(Sanders) “If we’re going to be effective in the fight against international terrorism we need to bring the entire world together. And when you have Bush saying that it is ok to torture prisoners, I think people all over the world are going to be saying, Hey what is going on in the United States?’ and Do we really want to work with this Administration?'”
(Kinzel) Tarrant says it’s important to clarify what techniques are permitted for interrogations. At the same time, he says it’s critical to make it clear that torture is unacceptable. But Tarrant says there’s no reason why suspected terrorists should be allowed to see classified information at their trial.
(Tarrant) “I don’t think we should be giving away classified information that would in any way impact the citizens of America and the next 9/11. That would be crazy.”
(Kinzel) Sanders argues that the United States can’t adopt the president’s plan and then expect Americans to receive a fair trial if they’re arrested in a foreign country.
(Sanders) “If an American solider is captured, what do you think the other side is going to say? They’re going to say, Of course we can torture your prisoners as well.’ And I don’t want see an American soldier be placed in that position.”
(Kinzel) Tarrant says that’s a meaningless argument when it comes to a number of countries in the Middle East: