Feb 20 2007

Statement from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham on the al Odah Decision

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made the following statement on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the al Odah case. The court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay. Last year, Graham played a leading role in the drafting and eventual passage into law of the Military Commissions Act (MCA). The bill contained a provision allowing federal judges to conduct limited reviews of specific procedural matters involving enemy combatant trials, and prohibited civil remedies such as habeas corpus petitions and other actions. Graham said: "I'm pleased the court understood Congress's intent to deny enemy combatant terror suspects the ability to bring lawsuits under the habeas statutes. "The determination of enemy combatant status belongs with the military. Civilian judges are not trained to determine who presents a threat to our nation. That is why Congress has only provided for a limited procedural review of combatant status determination. "Before the MCA was signed into law, enemy combatants were filing frivolous suits requesting better mail delivery, more exercise, judge-supervised interrogation, Internet access, the right to view DVDs and alleging medical malpractice. We made it clear in the MCA that terror suspects could not sue American troops for doing their job. These petitions undermine the ability of military officials at Guantanamo Bay to conduct effective interrogations. "Never in the history of warfare have enemy prisoners been able to bring lawsuits about their detention. Thousands of Germans and Japanese soldiers were captured and held by the military during World War II. Not one case was allowed in federal court where they were allowed to sue for their release. Our rules for the War on Terror should be no different. "Under the Military Commissions Act and the Detainee Treatment Act, the DC Court of Appeals will review the facts and circumstances surrounding enemy combatants' detention. Allowing enemy combatants to file additional lawsuits in civilian courts puts judges in charge of determining detainee status, not the military. "Today's decision was a step in the right direction. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the MCA, and I feel confident the Supreme Court will do the same" ####