McConnell: Foreigners not "entitled" to U.S. trials

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on "Face the Nation," Sunday, June 19, 2011.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday lambasted an Obama administration plan to try two Iraqis who were arrested on terrorism charges in Kentucky in civilian courts, saying instead they should be tried as enemy combatants by a military commission in Guantanamo Bay.

Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi were charged last month with trying to send weapons and money to al Qaeda operatives in their home country. Alwan is also accused of attacking U.S. soldiers in Iraq. They had been living in Bowling Green, Kentucky, since 2009.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the two were among 56,000 Iraqis who entered the U.S. through a special refugee program. Alwan was admitted in 2009 even though his fingerprint had been found on an unexploded IED in Iraq in 2005, according to court documents, but the Defense Department database containing his prints wasn't searched at the time he applied for refugee status.

"The things they're accused of doing were in Iraq, their fingerprints were found on IEDs in Iraq," McConnnell said on CBS' ""Face the Nation." "They got into this country as a mistake. These are enemy combatants. So let's get the terminology right. These are not American citizens - they're enemy combatants."

McConnell said the decision to try them as enemy combatants should be a "no-brainer," and that Alawan and Hammadi were not "entitled" to be tried in the U.S. court system just because they were arrested in the U.S.

"Look, foreigners are not entitled to be tried in the U.S. court system, particularly if they are enemy combatants. And that's what these are," he told host Bob Schieffer. "The attorney general has the choice. He just made the wrong choice. They ought to be tried in military commissions. This is a no-brainer. These foreigners who are exploding IEDs in Iraq shouldn't be tried in a U.S. court system - in Bowling Green or anywhere else."

McConnell also took issue with a comment Attorney General Eric Holder made on Thursday in which he called civilian courts the U.S.'s "most effective terror-fighting weapon" during a speech defending the decision to try the Iraqis in civilian courts.

"The attorney general said the other night our biggest weapon in the war on terror was the U.S. civilian court system. I don't know what planet he's living on," he added. "If Osama bin Laden were alive today, I think he'd say our biggest weapon are U.S. Navy SEALs."

Click on the video player below for more from Sen. McConnell's appearance on "Face the Nation."