Apr 16 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the decision by the Obama Administration to not prosecute CIA officers who were authorized to use harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects. 


Graham is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee.


“I support the Administration’s decision to look ahead, not back.  President Obama’s decision to not seek retroactive prosecution of these agents, who were following approved procedures and guidelines, is in the best interests of our nation. 


“During the time periods in question, the Geneva Convention did not apply to terrorist detainees and the war crimes statute was so ill-designed that it could not be used for prosecution.  Over the objections of the Bush administration, Congress began to address the gaps in our interrogation laws through the passage of the McCain Amendment in 2005 which prohibited cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.  The Military Commission Act in 2006 further clarified our war crimes laws.  We now have in place a very robust war crimes statute that provides adequate notice to all federal agencies as to what constitutes lawful interrogation.


“Water boarding is clearly a violation of current law and in my opinion, constitutes torture.  However, during the time periods in question there was no such clear guidance and the agents were following orders and procedures approved by the appropriate authorities.  As such, these agents should not face prosecution.


“To apply current laws retroactively, or to hold CIA agents accountable for following orders from the appropriate authorities, would be unfair and serve no higher purpose. 


“Let it be clear that as our nation goes forward, we have new rules and policies in place.  They clearly prohibit water boarding and other techniques that constitute a violation of Common Article III of the Geneva Convention which now applies as well as a newly passed war crimes statute.  These changes in the law are necessary to restore our standing as a nation and to give clear and concise guidance to those who are tasked with fighting this war.” 


Apr 02 2009

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-South Carolina) amendment to the Senate budget resolution protecting middle class taxpayers from legislation increasing the cost of energy passed the Senate today 65 – 33.


“The climate change proposal in the President’s budget would create a massive tax increase on every American,” said Graham. “We can deal with climate change without imposing a $3,000 per household energy tax on the families of America that are already having a hard time paying the bills.”


Graham noted the President’s climate plan disproportionately hurts the middle class by imposing heavy costs on manufacturers and businesses in states that rely on coal to provide electricity.


The Graham amendment creates a budget point of order requiring 60 votes to pass any piece of legislation that would impose an energy tax on individuals making less than $200,000 per year or families making less than $250,000 by increasing the cost of producing, generating, or consuming energy.


A vote on final passage of the budget is expected in the Senate late tonight.



Apr 02 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after U.S. District Court Judge John Bates this morning cleared the way for three detainees held at United States military prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to challenge their confinement in federal court.  The opinion bestowed upon the detainees the constitutional right of habeas corpus.


Graham said:


“This ruling is stunning in the precedent it sets for a nation at war.  Never in our nation’s history has a court bestowed habeas rights on enemy combatants being held by our military in a foreign country where battles are still raging.   Never.


“These detainees have been given the due process required under the Geneva Conventions and international law and have been found to be combatants in the global War on Terror.  The judge’s rationale that these individuals were not captured in Afghanistan so they are not part of the battle is both dangerous and naive.  The judge obviously does not appreciate the global nature of this conflict; however, the enemy clearly does.  Using this logic in World War II would not have allowed us to capture Nazi operatives anywhere but in Germany.


“This decision allows federal judges to micromanage foreign battles and the detention of the fighters our troops have captured in battle.  I cannot think of a more dangerous concept than a federal judge thousands of miles away in the U.S. being able to micromanage military decisions about fighting enemy forces in foreign lands. 


“We have thousands of brave young men and women who continue to volunteer their time, service, and lives in defense of our nation’s interests.  We appreciate their service but I fear this decision will make the already difficult task they face even harder.  As our troops continue to fight a vicious enemy in distant lands, the judge now sets in motion a process that will make the job of our forces even more difficult than it already is.


“I strongly encourage the Obama Administration to come out firmly against this decision.”



Apr 01 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Peter Orszag provided clarification on how the federal government will provide funding to states from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.

Graham had written to OMB on March 18 seeking clarification on whether the state legislature could request the $700 million in education funding if the governor refused to do so.  He also raised 10th Amendment constitutional concerns regarding the legal authority to bypass the governor of a state.

In their response, OMB made clear the governor – not the state legislature -- has the sole authority to submit an application for State Fiscal Stabilization funding:

“…for a State to access its allocation of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, the Governor must submit an application to the Secretary of Education, and there currently is no provision in the Recovery Act for a State legislature to make such an application in lieu of the Governor for a State’s allocation of the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund.”

Graham said:

“OMB’s opinion is in line with what I believe to be the correct interpretation of the law.  I appreciate their response as it will provide clarity and guidance to the state legislature and governor as they continue working on the state budget. 

“I voted against the stimulus package because it was too large, unfocused, created too much debt and too few jobs.  However, the choice for South Carolina now is whether to accept the stabilization funding or see the money go to another state. 

“We can refuse to accept it, but we cannot refuse to pay it back.  Based on that dilemma, I believe it is in South Carolina’s best interests to apply for these funds.  They will do some good. 

“The letter did not address my constitutional concerns which I think are real and will not be fixed by a mere change in the statute.  Regardless of one’s opinion about the provision’s constitutionality, the Congress will not be able to fix this problem by Friday and allow the state legislature to apply for the funding.  Also, it is unlikely other states would want to pass a legislative fix that would assist South Carolina.  By doing nothing, other states increase the chances they will receive a portion of the funding originally directed to our state. 

“The Governor has legitimate concerns about our state’s long-term debt and the burden we are passing along to future generations.  The legislature has equally legitimate concerns about the impact the deep recession is having on our state, which is second in the nation in unemployment, and how further budget cuts will affect education. 

“Time is of the essence and I am hopeful the governor and legislature can find a compromise which addresses the needs of both current and future generations of South Carolinians.  It is my hope a win-win solution which addresses our state’s needs today while building a solid foundation for future generations can be achieved.”


Click here for a copy of OMB Director Peter Orszag's letter.

Mar 27 2009

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement in response to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan planning to reprogram education funding from the stimulus legislation even if the Governor and state legislature do not request the funds.  

Graham said:

"I was shocked by the statements made by the Secretary of Education that he would find a way to spend the $700 million in South Carolina regardless of the requirements of the statute or whether the state requested the funding.

"I appreciate and share his concern for the children of South Carolina. However, federal officials cannot obligate money based on a perceived moral obligation. We are a nation of laws, not individual whims. I cannot think of a more dangerous precedent to be set than allowing an unelected Cabinet Secretary, a federal bureaucrat, to hand out government funds based upon their feelings and not the law.

"The Secretary’s pushing forward with this radical line of thinking would destroy the concept of the Rule of Law, the role of elected officials, and the principles of federalism which have served our nation well for over 200 years. I encourage the Obama Administration to immediately reject this approach. I hope these comments will be written off as just mindless chatter and not a radical new approach to the role and power of the federal government.

"I voted against the stimulus package because it was too large and created too much government. However, I do believe it is in South Carolina’s best interests for the Governor to accept the funding as it will do some good. If South Carolina does not accept the funding, it will go to another state and future generations of South Carolinian will still be obligated to pay it back.

"Additionally, in light of today’s unemployment figures and recent budget projections it will be very difficult for the General Assembly to meet all our state’s obligations. This is clearly a rainy day for South Carolina and these funds can be helpful in our current budget situation.

"Finally, the legal process through which these funds are administered is very important. The process and procedures used will be around long after these funds are spent."


Mar 26 2009

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after voting against the Senate Democratic budget proposal. The proposal was passed through the Senate Budget Committee yesterday by a vote of 13-10.

"Former President Bush and the Republican Congress were rightfully criticized for spending too much. But compared to this budget, George Bush looks like Scrooge.

"The Senate Democratic budget, which by OMB Director Peter Orszag’s own estimate is 98 percent identical to President Obama’s proposal, missed the mark. It is irresponsible. The Democratic budget imposes $80,000 of debt on every American family by 2011. It raises taxes at a time when we are trying to get our economy back on track. And we increase social spending exponentially and decrease military spending at a time when the world is more dangerous, not less.

"The Republican Party did not live up to expectations when it came to spending taxpayer dollars. Americans were rightfully disappointed in our actions. But yesterday we witnessed the Democratic budget taking our national debt to new, unsustainable levels.

"The Democratic budget proposal makes it virtually impossible for future generations to enjoy the same standard of living as their parents and grandparents. The American people want change but I fear the Senate Democratic and President Obama budget is change our nation simply cannot afford."


Mar 24 2009

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), who serves on the Senate Budget Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, criticized President Obama’s proposed budget and its affect on national security.  On Friday, Graham expressed concern about the Obama budget after a Congressional Budge Office analysis of the legislation showed it creating trillion dollar yearly deficits.

“I think the first job of any federal politician, particularly the President as Commander in Chief, is to secure the nation, “said Graham.  “This is not the time to go cheap on defense. The intelligence reports we receive show a growing threat from Iran, new engagements in Afghanistan; and a mission in Iraq that is not yet complete.  There is no peace dividend to be had until there is peace. 

Graham noted that over the last 20 years the average spending on national defense, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been about 4 percent.  When the supplemental spending bills covering operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are added it goes to about 4.5 percent this year.

The Obama budget proposes a reduction in defense spending so that by 2019 our nation only spends 3 percent of GDP on defense.

“When you try to figure out where a political leader really stands -- rhetoric versus reality -- one of the documents I would look at is the budget,” said Graham.  “If you asked a politician to write a budget, it would tell you a lot about what that political leader thought about where the country was and what priorities they would pursue.  Unfortunately, in the Obama budget, I think they've taken a very reckless view of national defense.”

“The interest on the national debt in 2019 will be $806 billion,” said Graham.  “Spending on national defense will be $720 billion.  Ten years from now, under this budget, we're going to spend more on interest on our national debt than we will be on our entire Defense Department.

“I hope the American people will understand that in this guns and butter debate that we've had for a long time in this country, that this budget is really heavy on butter and short on guns,” concluded Graham.


Mar 20 2009

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, today made this statement on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of President Obama’s budget proposal.

"The Obama Administration has embarked on a spending spree that will add tremendously to our long-term national debt. We began this presidency deep in debt and the budget course charted by the Obama Administration substantially adds to it. No amount of economic growth will be able to overcome the spending spree President Obama proposes.

"Economic and budgetary projections over a ten year period are always difficult. However, based upon the spending path we find ourselves on, it is not difficult to figure out where we will end up. The CBO report makes clear we are facing $1 trillion annual deficits as far as the eye can see. This is a staggering and unsustainable amount of debt to pass along.

"In its budget submission to Congress, the Obama Administration used optimistic economic projections. These projections were more politically than economically driven. The Obama Administration underestimated the unemployment problems our nation currently faces and overestimated how quickly the economy is likely to grow. The CBO analysis is more in line with reality.

"The American people want change but I fear President Obama’s budget proposes change our nation simply cannot afford."


Mar 18 2009

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today held a press conference to discuss South Carolina’s portion of the economic stimulus funds and a new analysis from the Congressional Research Service on the authority of the state legislature to request such funds.

Click here for a copy of the CRS report.

Click here for a copy of Senator Graham's letter to the OMB Director.


Mar 16 2009

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement in response to AIG paying bonuses to employees in its Financial Products (AIGFP) division. AIGFP was responsible for billions of dollars in losses involving credit default swaps and other derivatives.


“Like most Americans I am very upset these AIG employees are in line for multi-million dollar bonuses when the company has received almost $200 billion dollars in bailout money and the federal government now owns 80 percent of the company.


"This is a classic example of a company not understanding the public outcry against their way of doing business.


“We should do everything we can to protect taxpayer dollars – and start by looking at the possibility of undoing these bonuses which clearly have not been earned and are certainly not deserved."