Jan 22 2010

Graham Reaffirms Support for Holding Detainees in Preventative Detention

Plans to introduce legislation on Preventative Detention

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on reports the Obama Administration is prepared to hold nearly 50 Guantanamo detainees in preventative detention.  Preventative detention is a status that will be used to hold terror suspects who are too dangerous to release but cannot be tried by military tribunal or in civilian court. 


Graham said: 


“I appreciate the Administration’s recognition that nearly 50 Guantanamo detainees are too dangerous to release and will not face traditional prosecutions either by military commission or in civilian courts.  Some want our nation to adopt a ‘Try or Release’ policy in regards to detainees. I strongly oppose that approach and am glad the Obama Administration has rejected it as well.  With the percentage of former Guantanamo detainees who have returned to the fight soaring to 20 percent, we must not be hesitant to detain those who pose a real threat to our national security.


“However, much more work remains when it comes to holding enemy combatants indefinitely.  The Administration should work with Congress to develop and pass a law to indefinitely hold detainees off the battlefield.   It should be a national security-centric system, based on the law of armed conflict. 


“Military law allows the indefinite detention of enemy prisoners, and I have no problem holding these dangerous terror suspects indefinitely.  However, I realize that since this may be a war without end, it would be wise to create a statutory process laying out rules for long-term detention of enemy combatants that reinforce the President’s authority to detain combatants during a time of war. 


“I am in the process of drafting legislation dealing with the issue of preventative detention.  This is a complex area of the law, but my goals are simple – to create a legal system which recognizes that we have been and remain at war, provide a mechanism for future detentions of those apprehended on the battlefield, demonstrate that detention of terror suspects is not arbitrary or unjust, and strengthen procedures to protect classified information. 


“Additionally, closing Guantanamo will be incredibly difficult until you have a rational plan to address long term detention. 


“Remember, these detainees are warriors, not common criminals.  They should be treated as such, and the legal system we use to detain them must be built around that concept.”