May 15 2009

Graham Applauds President Obama's Decision to use Military Commissions to try Terror Suspects

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the decision by President Obama to use military commissions to try terror suspects.   

“I support President Obama’s decision to seek a further stay of military commission trials.  Today’s action will afford us the opportunity to reform the military commission system and produce a comprehensive policy regarding present and future detainees.


“In my first meeting with then President-elect Obama in Chicago in December 2008, we discussed a path forward for Guantanamo detainees.  I appreciated the opportunity to meet with him and focus on the types of reforms that would protect our national security interests and help repair the damage done to our nation’s image.  I continue to believe it is in our own national security interests to separate ourselves from the past problems of Guantanamo. 


“Since that initial meeting I have personally met with the President on two occasions and with his staff numerous times to discuss detention policy.  Our meetings have covered a wide range of topics including the various ways we could improve the military commission system to ideas on establishing a proper and appropriate oversight role for the federal courts. 


“I have had extensive discussions with military commanders and other Department of Defense officials about the overall benefit to the war effort of reforming our nation’s detainee policies.  The commanders believe a reformed system would be beneficial to the war effort as long as such a system is national security-centric.


“Detainee policy is very complex.  The President wants to collaborate with Congress to reform detainee policy and we should use this additional time to come up with a sensible national security policy regarding terror suspects.


“I believe a comprehensive plan should be in place before Guantanamo is closed. 


“I also believe that no detainees should be released into the United States.  Detainees determined by the military or a federal judge to no longer be held as enemy combatants should be transferred to the custody of the Department of Homeland Security pending their transfer to another country.


“I agree with the President and our military commanders that now is the time to start over and strengthen our detention policies. I applaud the President’s actions.”