Sep 21 2006

Graham Statement on Bush Administration – Senate Agreement on Tribunal Legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on a deal reached between the Bush Administration and U.S. Senators. The deal allows the terrorism trials of suspected terrorists to go forward at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It protects President Bush’s CIA program for High-Value Targets (HVT), addresses the use of classified information in the trials of terrorists, and upholds our nation’s long standing commitment to the Geneva Conventions. It also prohibits terror suspects from filing lawsuits in federal court against American troops and protects CIA agents from frivolous lawsuits. Graham said: “From the beginning we all shared the same goal. Now, we agree on the path to get there. “I’m very pleased with the productive negotiations we had with the White House. We fine-tuned the President’s proposal and have a much stronger work product than we did when we started. I appreciate the good faith negotiating done by Steve Hadley and Steve Bradbury. They are excellent advocates for President Bush and I appreciate their willingness to listen, understand, and work with us to address our concerns. “President Bush and I want to put terrorists on trial for their actions before, on, and after 9-11. We also want to protect our nation from future attacks. However we must do so in a manner consistent with our laws, values, and traditions. The legislation we put together accomplishes these objectives. Major Points of the Agreement: “The Supreme Court, in a decision I found troubling, decided to apply Geneva Convention protections to the War on Terror. Their decision is binding, but they gave Congress and the Administration wide latitude on its implementation. “It was a false choice to think we had to choose between protecting the CIA program and abandoning our Geneva Convention obligations. It was also a false choice to think that we could not protect national security if we allowed a tribunal defendant to confront classified evidence against them. I think our legislation shows we are able to accomplish both objectives. “We allow an effective and aggressive CIA program designed to gather good information to protect us from the terrorists to continue. The program will operate in a manner that will not put our troops in jeopardy today or in future wars by redefining or weakening our Geneva Convention protections. “We also allow a terror suspect to confront the evidence against them while protecting national security by using rules and procedures already in place in our military justice system. The trials of terror suspects will be conducted in a manner unprecedented in American history. They will provide the strongest protections for classified information, but do so in a manner that will not convict someone without them ever knowing the evidence. The Supreme Court: “Our efforts to put terror suspects on trial, gain convictions, and carry out a sentence are now two-thirds complete. The last hurdle – the Supreme Court -- will eventually judge whether our work product is constitutional. I think the fine-tuning done during negotiations give us a much better chance of passing constitutional muster. Conclusion: “Finally, I would not have been doing my job as Senator if I saw a problem with the President’s proposal – which I did – and didn’t work to address it in a constructive manner. I said it from the start, a conviction against a terror suspect in a military tribunal is no good if it is later overturned by the Supreme Court. “As a nation, we will be better served by taking a few extra days and doing the best job we can to ensure the work product will withstand constitutional scrutiny. If the Supreme Court again strikes the tribunal process down, it will send us back to the drawing board. More importantly, justice will once again be delayed against those who have committed terrible acts against our nation. #####