Jun 19 2008

Graham Responds to Senator Obama's Claim Habeas Petitions are "Not Designed to Free Prisoners"

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today responded to a comment made by his colleague, Senator Barack Obama (D-Illinois), on the recent Supreme Court ruling bestowing habeas rights on terror suspects.


Senator Obama incorrectly stated habeas corpus, “is not designed to free prisoners.”  Here is the full statement.


“They are not serious about this.  Because if they wanted to have a serious conversation about it then they would know for example that the issue of Habeas Corpus is not designed to free prisoners, what it's designed to do is make sure that prisoners who are being held, have at least one shot to say, ‘I’m being held wrongly.” (ABC News, June 17, 2008)


Graham responded:


“Contrary to Senator Obama’s statement, the Supreme Court’s bestowal of constitutional habeas rights on terror suspects has given them the green light to sue for their release.  And yes, federal judges are now empowered to release terror suspects from American custody.  Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion makes this fact clear.  Kennedy wrote,


“…the habeas court must have the power to order the conditional release of an individual unlawfully detained -- though release need not be the exclusive remedy and is not the appropriate one in every case in which the writ is granted.” (Boumediene v. Bush, page 50)


“Senator Obama supports the Supreme Court ruling, but it appears from his comments he does not fully grasp the ruling’s effects.


“Senator Obama should acknowledge federal district court judges do have the power to release terror suspects based upon their habeas petitions.  And maybe he will acknowledge that on second thought, the Supreme Court’s granting federal judges this enormous power isn’t such a good idea.


“I look forward to his response on this important subject.


“I continue to find it mind-boggling that civilian judges -- in some of the most liberal district courts in the country – are now empowered to determine who is a military threat to the United States .  Simply put, federal judges who have virtually no training in military or intelligence matters should not be making these decisions.  We need to blunt their ability to do so.”