Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he was pleased the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed legislation he helped draft establishing the trials of terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and providing legal infrastructure for the War on Terror. The legislation will now be sent to President Bush for his signature.
“From the beginning President Bush and I shared the same goal,” said Graham. “Now, I’m proud to say the President and a decisive majority in Congress agree on the path to get there.
“I’m very pleased the military trials of terrorists -- which have been put on hold for years -- will finally be allowed to move forward and justice will be rendered,” said Graham. “We were able to give the President, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the military the tools they need to continue protecting us from a vicious enemy. We accomplish these goals without abandoning our national values, Geneva Convention obligations, or the rule of law.”
Graham noted the major elements of the legislation include:
* Protecting President Bush’s CIA program for High-Value Targets (HVT) by allowing aggressive interrogation techniques -- classified in nature -- that will continue to yield good information protecting us from terrorists. The legislation gives the CIA the clarity they needed regarding interrogation techniques and for the first time clearly defined what constitutes a ‘grave breach’ of the Geneva Convention. By accomplishing this goal, the CIA can move forward with their program in a manner consistent with our international obligations and our values.
* Prohibiting terror suspects and others from suing CIA agents or their families for doing their jobs.
* Prevents terror suspects from filing lawsuits in federal court. Federal judges will be allowed to conduct limited review of certain legal issues but will not be able to take over military decisions determining who is and who is not an enemy combatant.
* Establishing military tribunals in a manner consistent with our national values and demonstrating America is rendering justice, not vengeance. The military tribunal system protects our nation’s secrets in an unprecedented manner while at the same time allowing defendants the ability to confront evidence against them. To do otherwise, would run the serious risk of the Supreme Court rejecting the legislation. The legislation achieves the correct balance between protecting our nation in this war without setting precedent that could jeopardize our troops in future wars.
“The Supreme Court ruled terrorist enemy combatants were covered by the Geneva Convention,” said Graham. “While President Bush and I did not agree with their ruling it was incumbent upon us to comply with their decision. A conviction against a terror suspect in a military tribunal is no good if it is later overturned by the Supreme Court.”
“I’m proud of the role I played in drafting the legislation and believe my years of military legal experience helped identify problem areas and bring about constructive solutions,” said Graham. “I would not have been doing my job as Senator if I saw a problem with the President’s proposal – which I did – and didn’t work to address it in a constructive manner.
“I also do not believe judges should be making military decisions in a time of war,” said Graham. “There is a reason the Germans and Japanese in World War II, and every other prisoner held by America, have never gone to federal court and asked a judge to determine their status. This is not a role the judiciary should be playing. They are not trained to make those decisions.”
“I’m tremendously pleased with the overwhelming support for the compromise,” said Graham. “The legislative and executive branches have now come together in a decisive fashion to provide the legal infrastructure necessary to fight and win the War on Terror. However, I will not be completely satisfied until our work product is approved by the judiciary. They are the final piece of the puzzle. I hope and believe they will look favorably upon our work.”