February 13th, 2010
12:30 PM ET
8 years ago

Graham on trying terrorism suspects: 'There is a better way'

Washington (CNN) - In Saturday's Republican weekly address, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, takes issue with the Obama administration's policies for handling terrorism suspects and makes the case for trying terrorism cases in military tribunals rather than civilian courts.

(Read the full text of Graham's remarks after the jump)

Full text of Saturday's weekly Republican address delivered by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina:

“Hello, I’m Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“The Obama administration’s decision to prosecute the mastermind of 9-11 Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and four other co-conspirators in civilian court in New York City makes no sense to most Americans - including me.

“All of these cases were pending before military commission at Guantanamo Bay before the Obama administration suspended the trials and dismissed charges. That was a major mistake in the war on terror.

“These Al Qaeda terrorists are not common criminals.

“Their attacks resulted in the biggest loss of American life from an act of war on our homeland since the Civil War.

“Never before have we allowed non-citizen, enemy combatants captured on the battlefield access to our civilian courts providing them with the same constitutional rights as American citizens.

“Al Qaeda terrorists should not receive more rights than a Nazi War criminal.

“And now is not the time to go back to the pre-9/11 mentality of fighting crime instead of fighting a war.

“A civilian trial of hard-core terrorists is unnecessarily dangerous and creates more problems than it solves.

“Let me explain why.

“Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey was the presiding judge in the 1995 Blind Sheik trial involving the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center and has warned of using civilian courts in terror trials.

“These same concerns were recently echoed by the bipartisan chairman of the 9-11 Commission.

“In the 1995 trial, because of civilian court rules, the government was required to disclose the identity of all known co-conspirators to the defense.

“One of the conspirators - relatively obscure at the time - was Osama bin Laden.

“Our intelligence services later learned this list made its way back to bin Laden tipping him off about our surveillance.

“A conviction was obtained in that trial, but valuable intelligence was compromised.

“The rest is history.

“Civilian trials create confusion. Our soldiers and intelligence services are already uncertain as to what rules apply.

“Case in point - the Christmas Day bomber.

“As we all know, this was a failed attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit by a trained Al Qaeda operative.

“After being captured and fresh off the battlefield, he was read his Miranda rights within one hour of questioning and asked for a lawyer.

“Days later and only after his parents encouraged him to cooperate did he begin talking again.

“Can we really rely on the parents of future terrorists to work with the FBI?

“And is reading Miranda Rights to terrorists any way to fight a war?

“Finally, a civilian trial in New York City will be expensive. The New York City Police Commissioner, Mayor and other leaders have all expressed concern these trials could last for years and end up costing over a billion dollars.

“These trials should not take place in New York or any other civilian court. To do so, ignores the fact we are at war.

“I believe there is a better way.

“I have been a military lawyer for almost 30 years and have great confidence in our military justice system.

“With the goal of protecting our nation, military law allows us to collect valuable intelligence without reading Miranda Rights to enemy combatants. It keeps them off the battlefield, and where appropriate, prosecutes them for war crimes in a manner that adheres to our values.

“As one of the chief authors I am proud of the revised Military Commission Act of 2009 which created military tribunals for unlawful enemy combatants – a system not available in 2002 to deal with the Shoe Bomber Richard Reid.

“This law was passed after extensive consultation with the Obama administration and received overwhelming bipartisan support.

“The military justice system is transparent, well-staffed, subject to civilian review, and protects valuable intelligence. And above all else it is built around the idea that we are a nation at war.

“Khalid Sheik Mohammad and his co-conspirators should have their charges reinstated before military commissions and quickly be tried by our military.

“These trials will be conducted by the same men and women who administer justice to our own troops.

“They are competent professionals with a great understanding of their obligations under the law. It is a system of justice that allows us to move securely forward in this war while upholding our values.

“For the good of the nation, I hope the Obama administration will alter their policies.

“Military tribunals are the best way to render justice, win this war and protect our nation from a vicious enemy.

“May God bless the United States and all those who serve to defend our way of life.”

Filed under: GOP • Homeland Security • Lindsey Graham • Obama administration • Terrorism
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. virginia nielsen

    Why he didn't suggest that idea when Dubbia and republicans in Congress were in power ? What a cinic and self-serving liar !!!

    February 13, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
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