"My position has always been clear: If you've got a terrorist, take him out," Obama said. "Anybody who was involved in 9/11, take 'em out."
But Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for more than a decade, said captured suspects deserve to file writs of habeus [sic] corpus.
Calling it "the foundation of Anglo-American law," he said the principle "says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, 'Why was I grabbed?' And say, 'Maybe you've got the wrong person.'"
The safeguard is essential, Obama continued, "because we don't always have the right person."
"We don't always catch the right person," he said. "We may think it's Mohammed the terrorist, but it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You might think it's Barack the bomb-thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president."
Obama turned back to Palin's comment, although he said he was not sure whether Palin or Rudy Giuliani said it.
"The reason that you have this principle is not to be soft on terrorism. It's because that's who we are. That's what we're protecting," Obama said, his voice growing louder and the crowd rising to its feet to cheer. "Don't mock the Constitution. Don't make fun of it. Don't suggest that it's not American to abide by what the founding fathers set up. It's worked pretty well for over 200 years."
I remember Palin's line at the convention. It stuck with me, because it indicated something that had become increasingly clear about the modern GOP over the past few years. Lawless detention is now a litmus test for the party. You cannot be a member in good standing and support Habeas Corpus. You cannot be a member in good standing and support fair trials. You cannot be a member in good standing and support due process.
It is a mockery of the constitution. The American people deserve to know that.