Maybe Newt Gingrich just ought to hold his tongue on terrorists and US law. Earlier this week the former House Speaker said shoe-bomber Richard Reid was American, and therefore was properly read his Miranda rights by the Bush administration—but Reid is British, and now Gingrich says he meant would-be domestic terrorist Jose Padilla. So, we’re good now, right? Well, not quite.
Because Gingrich added on Twitter: “Treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is Pres”—in line with current Republican talking points but exactly the opposite of what he said in 2005 about the Bush administration moving Padilla’s case from military to civilian court. Then, Gingrich agreed with the Bush line that there’s no set-in-stone, perfect way to try terrorists—the very stance, Sam Stein points out, he’s now criticizing from President Obama. Marc Ambinder sees another angle—Gingrich praising Bush for originally holding Padilla in a military brig and subjecting him to harsh interrogation. But, Ambinder notes for the Atlantic, Padilla didn’t talk before his eventual transfer to civilian court. “So Gingrich's reference—his proof that the Bush administration used a different practice and that it worked—is so far removed from the point that he is trying to make that it is, to quote Wolfgang Pauli, not even wrong.”