Wes Hickman (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) was at the White House with a small group of Senators and Representatives flanking the President as he signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 into law. The legislation establishes military tribunals and provides the legal infrastructure to fight and win the War on Terror.
“This law will make our nation stronger and the terrorists weaker,” said Graham. “I was proud to stand with President Bush and work with his team, along with other Members of Congress, to pass this historic legislation. It can now be said the executive and legislative branches are on the same sheet of legal music when it comes to detaining and trying terrorist enemy combatants.”
Graham noted the major points of the legislation include:
• Protecting President Bush’s CIA program for High-Value Targets (HVT) by allowing aggressive interrogation techniques -- classified in nature -- that will continue to yield good information protecting our nation from terrorists. The CIA has the clarity they needed regarding interrogation techniques and for the first time clearly defined what constitutes a ‘grave breach’ of the Geneva Convention. By accomplishing this goal, the CIA can move forward with their program in a manner consistent with our international obligations and our values.
• Prohibiting terror suspects and others from suing CIA agents or their families for doing their jobs.
• Establishing military tribunals in a manner consistent with our national values. The military tribunal system protects our nation’s secrets in an unprecedented manner while at the same time allowing defendants the ability to confront evidence against them. To do otherwise, would run the serious risk of the Supreme Court rejecting the legislation. Congress and President Bush achieved the correct balance between protecting ourselves in this war without setting precedent that would jeopardize our troops in future wars.
• Prevents terror suspects from filing lawsuits in federal court. Federal judges will be allowed to conduct limited review of certain legal issues but will not be able to take over military decisions determining who is and who is not an enemy combatant.
“Under the Military Commissions Act, we establish military tribunals in a manner consistent with our national values and demonstrate our nation is rendering justice, not vengeance,” said Graham. “They are modeled after our own court-martial system and I strongly believe the Supreme Court will uphold them. They represent a model of justice during a time of war our nation can be proud of.
“Working together Congress and President Bush rose to the occasion and demonstrated it was possible to provide tools to the President, CIA, and military to fight this vicious enemy and do so without abandoning our Geneva Convention obligations or national values,” said Graham. “After four years of legal starts and stops, we can now put terrorists on trial and administer justice.”