Jan 04 2006
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment to the recently enacted defense appropriations bill. “Under no circumstance did I intend, by a change in language, that existing lawsuits filed by enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) would be statutorily preserved. Nor do I believe a reasonable reading of the statute would lead to that conclusion. “The intent of the language contained within the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment is that Courts will decide in accord with their own rules, procedures and precedents whether to proceed in pending cases. “It is my belief Congress has spoken in a bipartisan fashion – loud and clear – that enemy combatant terrorists engaged in hostile acts against the United States do not have the same legal rights as American citizens under Section 2241 of the federal criminal code passed by Congress. “It is clear from the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment federal courts will retain jurisdiction to review military decisions as to whether an individual was properly classified as an enemy combatant. It is my belief the Courts will use the procedures outlined in Graham-Levin-Kyl for judicial review in place of habeas petitions under Section 2241 past, present, and future. The over 160 habeas petitions plus over 200 money damage claims are undermining the effective operation of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “Michael Ratner, a lawyer who has filed lawsuits on behalf of numerous enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, boasts about the fact this litigation has undermined intelligence gathering in the war on terror. Ratner said, “The litigation is brutal for [the United States]. It’s huge. We have over one hundred lawyers now from big and small firms working to represent these detainees. Every time an attorney goes down there, it makes it that much harder [for the U.S. military] to do what they’re doing. You can’t run an interrogation…with attorneys. What are they going to do now that we’re getting court orders to get more lawyers down there?” (Onnesha Roychoudhuri, The Torn Fabric of the Law: An Interview with Michael Ratner, Mother Jones Magazine, March 21, 2005.) “There are now cases filed by enemy combatants requesting better mail delivery, more exercise, judge-supervised interrogation, Internet access, the right to view DVDs and alleging medical malpractice. Never in the history of warfare have enemy prisoners been able to bring lawsuits about their detention. Thousands of Germans and Japanese prisoners during World War II were captured and held by the military. Not one case was allowed in federal court regarding their detention. “The legal review allowed for in Graham-Levin-Kyl is far beyond the requirements of the Geneva Convention but will prevent the unnecessary disruption of the operation of Guantamo Bay to protect our nation’s national security.” ####
Dec 22 2005
Graham Helps Secure TRICARE for National Guard and Reserve
Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417WASHINGTON -- The United States Senate last night approved the Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Authorization bill. The legislation improves benefits for military personnel including a provision offered by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to expand TRICARE to all drilling reservists. Graham has worked with other Senators to expand access to health care for members of the National Guard and Reserve who are playing an ever-increasing and historic role in the global War on Terror. He noted that Guardsmen and Reservists now make up approximately 40 percent of American forces in Iraq. “Our work reflects a significant triumph for the Guard, Reserves and their families,” said Graham, chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel. “Now, after years of relative neglect, these soldiers’ health care coverage and benefits are more in line with their service to our nation. This year’s bill provides continuous health care coverage for all drilling reservists, an important improvement over what we were able to accomplish last year.” Under the expansion of TRICARE championed by Graham, all members of the Selected Reserve are eligible to enroll in the military health care program for a monthly premium. The premiums are based on categories of eligibility: Category 1: Members of the Selected Reserve who are called to active duty qualify for TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS). Under this program, established last year, a reservist would accumulate one year of TRS coverage for every 90 days of active duty service. Monthly premiums during the years of accumulated eligibility are only 28 percent of the program cost. The government picks up the remaining 72 percent. As has always been the case, coverage is free of charge while on active duty. This bill now permits accumulation of earned periods of coverage for frequently deployed personnel. In addition, it authorizes 6 months of transitional coverage for family members following the death of the Reserve member, if the member dies while in an inactive status.
Category 2: Members of the Selected Reserve who are not called to active duty, and who otherwise do not qualify for health insurance due to unemployment or lack of employer-provided coverage, are eligible to enroll in TRICARE for a 50 percent cost-sharing premium. The government will pay the remaining 50 percent.
Category 3: Members of the Selected Reserve who do not fit into either of the above categories but would like to participate in TRICARE are eligible to do so for an 85 percent cost share. Employers are allowed and encouraged to contribute to the reservist’s share. The government contributes 15 percent of the costs. “I will continue to work to improve benefits available to members of the Guard and Reserve,” said Graham. “The nation will continue to need their services, in large numbers, in fighting the War on Terror. I am proud of and appreciate the progress we’ve made this year with the Senate and Bush Administration working together.” “Guardsmen and Reservists are citizen-soldiers,” said Graham. “Increasingly they are being called up, taken away from their work and families, and being sent to far-away lands for long tours of duty. We need to ensure the benefits they are receiving are equal to the sacrifice they are making to protect our country and interests around the world.” The defense bill authorized additional benefits for the men and women serving our nation in uniform. Among these important changes were: * A 3.1 percent pay raise for all military personnel;
* Payment of “matching fund” contributions of up to 5 percent of basic pay for first term enlistees who participate in the Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP is a 401(k) retirement plan available to all federal employees.
* Increases in maximum amounts of assignment incentive pay and hardship duty pay.
* $60 million increase in child care and family assistance services to active-duty and Reserve military families.
* Critical skills retention bonus of up to $100,000 over a career for members of the Selected Reserve.
* Increases TRICARE benefits for the surviving children of members who die on active duty.
* Increases to $100,000 in the death gratuity allowance payable to survivors of all active duty military decedents, including retroactive payment to October 7, 2001, the date of commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom.
* Directs the establishment of a uniform Department policy on casualty assistance to improve the services provided to survivors and next of kin of military members killed on active duty.
* In addition the bill authorizes increases in the active-duty end strength of 10,000 for the Army and 1,000 for the Marine Corps.
The bill has been passed by the House and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush in the coming days. ####