The retired generals and admirals have been out front on the issue for more than a year, seeking to rebut the contention that closing Guantanamo would endanger national security and that military courts offer a safer venue for trying suspected terrorists.
“We don’t want to give the terrorists the added stature of being tried in military courts as if they are legitimate warriors, which they’re not,” Hutson said. “The federal courts should be showcased, not hidden under a bushel.”
The group has meetings scheduled with a dozen House candidates, both Republicans and Democrats. Included are two Democratic challengers in competitive races: Bryan Lentz in Pennsylvania’s 7th district and John Callahan in the state’s 15th district. Also scheduled was Republican Tom Marino, who is challenging Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.) but had to reschedule after he was involved in a car accident Tuesday.
The military leaders are also hoping to meet with Senate candidates, although no meetings have been scheduled yet. The issue of terrorist trials could be a potent one come the fall; in the closely-watched Senate race between former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), Toomey highlighted his opposition to holding civilian trials in Pennsylvania during his first general election television ad.
“We believe quite strongly that these are important issues and shouldn’t be sublimated to other important issues right now,” Hutson said.