Romney flip-flop: Now he wants terrorist tried on U.S. soil


I was doing my usual morning routine of oatmeal, coffee and “Morning Joe” when I heard a clip of Mitt Romney saying some terrorist should be brought to justice on U.S. soil in an American court. But that can’t be, I thought. I could have sworn the former Massachusetts governor, who has run away from other political positions faster than Carl Lewis has done a 100-meter dash, was dead set against it. So I set about to find the evidence. Luckily, the folks over at ThinkProgress were already on the case and put it all together in a nice package. It’s another example of why many people have a hard time believing anything Romney says. Or at a minimum, believing that what he just said will still be operative later.

At a Republican debate in South Carolina in May 2007, in response to a question about a ticking-time bomb-scenario involving terrorists being questioned at Guantanamo, Romney was gung-ho.

Now we’re going to — you said the person’s going to be in Guantanamo. I’m glad they’re at Guantanamo. I don’t want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons. I want them there.

When the Justice Department announced in April that it was backing off its push to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in civilian courts on U.S. soil, Romney issued a statement praising the decision but blasting President Obama. “An inexperienced and naïve president has finally reversed himself on Guantanamo and terrorist trials," Romney said. “Let’s hope he sees the light on his other flawed policies.”

But here’s what Romney said last night on Fox News when asked who the mastermind behind the 1988 bombing of New York-bound PanAm Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, should be handed over to if the rebels take over the Libyan government.

Well, to the United States of America would be my first choice. We would try him here and see that justice is done. This is a person responsible for the lives of hundreds of people. This is an individual who was convicted in Scotland but then set free on a humanitarian basis. And, now, two years later he’s still alive. He received a hero’s welcome in Tripoli. It’s unacceptable, in my view, that this person does not face justice.

In a story about how conservatives are pining for a 2012 hero, Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith at Politico sum up the right’s issues with the GOP front-runners. “To many conservative elites,” they write, “Rick Perry is a dope, Michele Bachmann is a joke, and Mitt Romney is a fraud.” Romney’s flip-flopping position on terrorist trials on U.S. soil only furthers that uncharitable view of him.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.

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