Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment to the recently enacted defense appropriations bill.
“Under no circumstance did I intend, by a change in language, that existing lawsuits filed by enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) would be statutorily preserved. Nor do I believe a reasonable reading of the statute would lead to that conclusion.
“The intent of the language contained within the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment is that Courts will decide in accord with their own rules, procedures and precedents whether to proceed in pending cases.
“It is my belief Congress has spoken in a bipartisan fashion – loud and clear – that enemy combatant terrorists engaged in hostile acts against the United States do not have the same legal rights as American citizens under Section 2241 of the federal criminal code passed by Congress.
“It is clear from the Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment federal courts will retain jurisdiction to review military decisions as to whether an individual was properly classified as an enemy combatant. It is my belief the Courts will use the procedures outlined in Graham-Levin-Kyl for judicial review in place of habeas petitions under Section 2241 past, present, and future. The over 160 habeas petitions plus over 200 money damage claims are undermining the effective operation of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“Michael Ratner, a lawyer who has filed lawsuits on behalf of numerous enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, boasts about the fact this litigation has undermined intelligence gathering in the war on terror.
Ratner said, “The litigation is brutal for [the United States]. It’s huge. We have over one hundred lawyers now from big and small firms working to represent these detainees. Every time an attorney goes down there, it makes it that much harder [for the U.S. military] to do what they’re doing. You can’t run an interrogation…with attorneys. What are they going to do now that we’re getting court orders to get more lawyers down there?” (Onnesha Roychoudhuri, The Torn Fabric of the Law: An Interview with Michael Ratner, Mother Jones Magazine, March 21, 2005.)
“There are now cases filed by enemy combatants requesting better mail delivery, more exercise, judge-supervised interrogation, Internet access, the right to view DVDs and alleging medical malpractice. Never in the history of warfare have enemy prisoners been able to bring lawsuits about their detention. Thousands of Germans and Japanese prisoners during World War II were captured and held by the military. Not one case was allowed in federal court regarding their detention.
“The legal review allowed for in Graham-Levin-Kyl is far beyond the requirements of the Geneva Convention but will prevent the unnecessary disruption of the operation of Guantamo Bay to protect our nation’s national security.”