Continuing his return to the ugly tactics he helped popularize in the 1980s and 1990s, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested on May 24's "Meet the Press" that the Obama administration's "highest priority" is to "find some way to defend terrorists":
MR. GREGORY: But, Senator Durbin, in this case you have not just Vice President Cheney, but the majority leader of the Senate saying, "No, we don't want these detainees to come into prisons in the United States."
SEN. DURBIN: Now that President Obama has made it clear what his plan is, he'll bring that to Congress. We have successfully tried terrorists in the United States. As I sit here today, we have 347 convicted terrorists secure in our incarceration in our facilities. We know that they can be tried and held safely. I'm sure the president will be able to work this out with members of Congress.
MR. GREGORY: Speaker Gingrich.
FMR. REP. NEWT GINGRICH, (R-GA): ...[T]he question comes right down to, as Vice President Cheney said this week, what's your highest priority? Is it to defend America and protect American lives, or is it to find some way to defend terrorists and to get terrorists involved in the criminal justice system?...
This statement echoes Gingrich's suggestion on May 10 that Obama administration officials were "prepared to take huge risks with Americans in order to defend terrorists" in previous pro bono legal work:
GINGRICH: [W]hen you look at the Obama administration, the number of attorneys they have appointed who were defending alleged terrorists -- I mean, there's this weird pattern where the Bush people wanted to defend Americans and were pretty tough on terrorists. These guys [Obama officials] are prepared to take huge risks with Americans in order to defend terrorists.
Like the many GOP attacks on dissent since 9/11, the point of these statements is to suggest that Obama and other Democrats who have sought to ensure a fair process for detainees are sympathetic to terrorists. It's an ugly, ugly smear.