Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said he will fight efforts by leading Democrat Senators to give terror suspects expanded access to federal courts.
Graham played a leading role last year in the drafting and eventual passage into law of the Military Commissions Act (MCA), which establishes the rules and procedures to try enemy combatant terror suspects before military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Federal judges are allowed to conduct limited reviews of certain legal issues involving enemy combatants, but they would not be able to take over the military decision of determining who is and who is not an enemy combatant.
"It's time we put terror suspects on trial before military tribunals for their crimes against the United States," said Graham. "If we begin tinkering with provisions of the MCA, it will slow efforts to bring terrorists to justice.
"Some of the masterminds of the 9/11 attack on America are being held at Guantanamo Bay," said Graham. "I'm ready to see them stand trial and suffer the consequences of their actions against the United States. It's time for justice to be served, not delayed."
Under legislation, Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007, introduced by Democrat Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), enemy combatant terror suspects would have expanded rights to file habeas corpus petitions in federal court challenging their detention. It would also fundamentally weaken the rules governing military tribunals.
"Never in the history of warfare have enemy prisoners been able to bring lawsuits about their detention," said Graham. "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.
"I will vigorously oppose any effort to allow federal judges to determine enemy combatant status," said Graham. "This decision belongs with the military. 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," said Graham. "We also made it clear in the MCA terror suspects could not sue American troops for doing their job.
"The MCA protects our troops and national security while living up to our international commitments and obligations," concluded Graham.