Republican Sen. Rand Paul has long said the terrorist detainees in the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay should be charged with crimes and given military trials. Now he says that if the United States had done so, the five Taliban members released over the weekend might still be in custody.
"Try them, convict them, and give them a sentence," Paul said Tuesday on Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."
The five Taliban leaders were released on Saturday in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by a Taliban group in Afghanistan for almost five years. Republicans celebrated the release of Bergdahl but criticized President Barack Obama for what they saw as negotiating with terrorists.
Paul's insistence that all Guantanamo detainees should be tried goes back years.
He says holding them without charges violates the Constitution, even though they are not U.S. citizens. But some fear that if a detainee is charged and tried, then found not guilty, the government will be forced to release him.
"It can be a military commission. They're not U.S. citizens," Paul told Cavuto on Tuesday. "But try them, convict them, and give them a sentence. I think this [prisoner swap] would have been a little more difficult had they either been given life sentences or given some sentences."
Bergdahl is recuperating in a U.S. military hospital. Meanwhile, videos showed the released Taliban members celebrating a reunion with their families. An agreement forged through the mediating government of Qatar restricts the men to that country for a least one year.
But critics say the five, all high-ranking Taliban members, will eventually return to the field of battle and harm Americans.
Paul is mulling a 2016 run for president, and Cavuto asked him what he would do, as president, if any of the men broke the agreement.
"I would say that there would be a drone with their name on it," said Paul, who is also noted for his opposition to the use of the unmanned military aircraft
against U.S. citizens.
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