Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on release of the new Army Field Manual and President Bush’s proposal for military tribunals.
On Army Field Manual:
“I’m extremely pleased with the Army Field Manual. In my opinion it is a model for the international community when it comes to detaining and interrogating unlawful enemy combatants. It’s clear the Bush Administration listened to and responded to the input from the Congress, military officials and legal scholars. The revised Army Field Manual exceeded my expectations. I appreciate and applaud the Administration for their work on this issue.”
On Military Tribunals:
“The next challenge we face is the establishment of military commissions to try terror suspects. We need to ensure the commissions can withstand judicial scrutiny, hold terrorists accountable for their actions, and make the American people proud of our justice system.
“It is imperative Congress and the President work together to authorize military commissions and allow trials to move forward. I hope we can complete this by the end of September as it is in our national interest to conduct these trials without further delay. It is also important the military commissions comply with the Supreme Court’s Hamdan decision and be modeled, where applicable, after the military court martial system. There will need to be some modifications made as the needs of the commission are different from a court martial.
“I believe what differences we may have between the current Bush Administration proposal and the Senate Armed Services Committee draft proposal can be overcome and that agreement will soon be reached. I look forward to being part of that process and am pleased with the working relationship I have formed with the Administration on this issue.
“I do not think we can afford to again cut legal corners that will result in federal court rejection of our work product. I’m hopeful that spirit will prevail among all the parties. If we approach commissions with the same attitude we had on the Army Field Manual, we will have a successful outcome.
“One area of contention we must address is how classified information can be used in a military commission.
“I strongly support the government’s ability to withhold classified information vital to our national security from accused terrorists. The military justice system already has legal procedures in place dealing with the admissibility of classified information. Military lawyers have experience in protecting classified information and our national security. We can and should use their advice and experience on how to deal with classified information in creating the commission system. The Senate proposal contains important national security safeguards to protect classified information and relies on the advice and counsel of JAGs from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
“I believe it would be a mistake to allow the jury to see classified evidence the accused never sees. After many consultations with military legal officers (JAGs) in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, I do not believe it is necessary to have a trial where the accused cannot see the evidence against them. I fear that creating such a procedure would not be well-received by the courts. The military legal officers (JAGs) serving in uniform have also expressed concern that this could establish a precedent that could be used against our own troops. I share this concern.”