As Washington D.C. continues to thaw out from its record snowfall, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham was in Greenville Monday to turn up the heat on his call against the Obama Administration’s plan to hold civilian trials for Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and 9/11 co-conspirators in civilian court. Graham continues to trumpet for trials by military commission. Graham says Mohammad and the 9/11 co-conspirators are war criminals and should be tried as such.
Graham says a civilian trial would give Mohammad a dangerous platform:
It’s not about the outcome of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad’s case. He is dying to plead guilty and become a martyr. I will do everything within my power to deny him the ability to go to New York City within two miles of the attack on the World Trade Center and have the biggest microphone in the world to spread his hate. -A trial that can take years and cost a half-a-billion dollars or more.
Graham says Vice President Joe Biden and others continue to talk about the imminent conviction of Mohammad and the co-conspirators. Graham says it’s not about convicting Mohammad, it’s about a system that will allow the world to know that he got convicted on what he did.
We have a system that recognizes he’s not a common criminal but a military threat. So I wish the vice president and others would quit talking about the results in the case and trying to let everybody in America we’re going to convict and kill these people. That’s not what a legal system is designed to do. It’s designed to make sure every result is based on a process and procedure that gets to the truth based on evidence, not revenge.
Graham says the country is not fighting a crime, the country is fighting a war and no one in our military jails will be held without due process.
Graham says under his call civilian courts will maintain a significant role in making sure that enemy combatants are brought to justice in a transparent manner.
The courts are the best body to look over the military shoulder to make sure that they’re capturing people and detaining people worthy of being detained. They will also look at every conviction in a military tribunal setting will be appealed to our civilian court. So, there’s a role for a civilian court in checking and balancing the military.
Graham says civilian courts have never been used to try people who have been held for four or fives years under military law for intelligence gathering purposes.
Under our domestic criminal law, you cannot hold someone indefinitely without trial. But under military law you can hold someone indefinitely without trial if they’re part of enemy force. So the Supreme Court has ruled that it is lawful to hold someone as an enemy combatant, including a U-S citizen, if the purpose of the detention is to gather intelligence and keep the enemy off the battlefield.
Graham was joined by former U.S. Court of Appeals Justice for the Fourth Circuit Billy Wilkins. A Greenville County native, Wilkins says the rules of evidence in civilian courts are not designed to protect against leaks of potentially sensitive information.
We’re dealing with top secret information. Top secret – that if it leaked out, would give aid and comfort to the enemy. And our rules of evidence in our civilian courts, are really not geared up to protect top secret information -that many times – I think most of the times, are involved in these types of trials. Under a military tribunal it’s much easier to protect security, information…
Wilkins adds that trials by military commissions are fair and should not be viewed as “kangaroo courts.”