Diary

A ‘Witness’ Takes the Stand

This afternoon, incumbent Congressman Ellsworth plans to enlist a leading advocate for the rights of terrorists to defend moving Guantanamo detainees to U.S. soil in a conference call with reporters. But before we get to that, let’s re-cap the past few days.

  • On Friday, Dan Coats released a “smart ad” titled ‘Judgment’ contrasting Congressman Brad Ellsworth’s dangerously naïve record on national security with Dan’s vigilance and record of service by specifically highlighting the Obama-Ellsworth plan to close Guantanamo Bay prison and transfer terrorist detainees to the United States for prosecution and incarceration.
  • The Ellsworth’s kneejerk reaction was to distract and ignore the real issue: did he or did he not cast votes the New York Times said were “a step forward for President Obama’s efforts to close the Guantanamo prison.” The Congressional record says he did, is the record wrong?
  • In Jeffersonville yesterday, Congressman Ellsworth followed up by demanding the Coats campaign pull the ad off the air (we won’t) saying it was “misleading” regarding his thoughts on Guantanamo. He then later said, “If and when Gitmo is shut down, I have full confidence in our federal prisons.” Sounds like he’s on board with the plan, so how is the ad wrong again?
  • Later in the day, the Ellsworth campaign announced a conference call to be held today with Morris Davis, a former prosecutor at the Guantanamo Bay facility. Guess if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Here’s some background on the Ellsworth campaign’s star-witness.

Although this morning’s Courier & Press says Davis has “become a harsh critic of the military commissions” like those at Guantanamo Bay since leaving his post, in a November 2009 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Davis wrote, “Military commissions satisfy the requirements of the Geneva Conventions, which are the source of the detainees’ rights. The rights in federal courts surpass the Geneva Conventions requirements and give detainees more than their status and the law demand.”

The Washington Post reported in 2008 that Davis “initially defended the commissions process” while on the government payroll. So, Davis went from fan to critic back to fan? Will the real Morris Davis please stand up?

We can only go by his own words, in which Davis admits military commissions are just fine and that bringing terrorist detainees to the United States would give them rights that “surpass the Geneva Conventions” and give them “more than their status and the law demand.”

Furthermore, Davis is probably best known for what he did on April 28, 2008, in Guantanamo Bay – testifying on behalf of Yemeni born Salim Ahmed Hamdan – more commonly known as “bin Laden’s driver.”

But now he’s defending Congressman Ellsworth who has rubberstamped the Obama plan to shut down Guantanamo Bay and transport terrorist detainees to the United States where they could have the same rights as American citizens! Don’t take our word for it, just read what Davis wrote above.

So the big question is this: if the ad was wrong then why is Congressman Ellsworth tapping a proponent of legal rights for terror detainees to defend his bad votes?

[Disclosure: Pete Seat is the press secretary for the Coats for Senate campaign.]