Lindsey Graham Interviewed on Fox News Channel
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)
Jon Scott, Fox News Channel
The president drew cheers yesterday when he named some of the suspected terrorists who have been held at Guantanamo Bay -- transferred to Guantanamo Bay now to await trial. The president also announced a plan that calls, in part, for evidence to be withheld from defendants.
Senator Lindsey Graham says he fears that would set a dangerous precedent the rest of the world would follow. He is among three Republican senators offering a revised proposal, one that guarantees that terrorist suspects get to see every bit of evidence gathered against them.
Senator Graham joins us now.
Senator, how big are your differences with the White House on this issue?
Really not that big. And there's a lot of confusion about this. There's two circumstances involving classified information. The defense can request classified information from the prosecution to prepare their case. I support the military lawyer's position here, the active duty lawyers, who say the government should not have to give to the defense classified information not relevant to the case and the judge can exclude any classified information the judge believes would harm national security.
What they're talking about that's new and different, that I think is a bad idea, is for the government to give to the jury classified information about innocence or guilt, and the accused never know -- never see what the jury sees, and he would be convicted not knowing what the evidence against him or her was. That could come back to haunt us.
That's not necessary. I've talked to the prosecutors at Guantanamo Bay. They don't need that. And, to me, that is a bridge too far. You say "no" to classified information to terrorists that would hurt national security, but if you're going to put somebody in jail, they need to confront the evidence against them. And that is what I stand for. That's what the military lawyers stand for. And that's the way we've been doing it for 200 years.
But, for instance, you say if it's relevant to their case they should be allowed to see it. Let's say some undercover informant who is, you know -- is sort of becoming a traitor to his own organization, reveals some information. That would have to be revealed to these suspects, wouldn't it?
No, no, no, no. The military rules of evidence cover this very situation. A confidential informant does not have to be disclosed in the prosecution of the case if it would create serious risk or injury to the informant or it would compromise national security.
The terrorists could ask for satellite positioning. The judge would review their request and would say national security interest overcome your need to know about satellites.
We're not going to give the terrorists the information to harm this nation. The judge will decide what's relevant and what's not. That's the way we do it in our military legal system.
On the other hand, if we create a legal system, where the accused goes to jail never knowing what the evidence against him was, what the jury looked at, then that would be a departure that's unnecessary, that would hurt our guys if they are tried in a foreign land. That's what the military lawyers say; it makes sense to me.
The critics of the administration have said that it has used torture in obtaining information from some of these people. Are you concerned that some of these people have been tortured?
No. I understand very well what the Department of Defense has come out with in terms of the Army Field Manual. The Army Field Manual is a model for the world.
The interrogation techniques that we have at Gitmo, I think, are the way to go. The way Gitmo is being run as a jail is probably the best-run jail in the world. The American government doesn't torture people. Tortured evidence is unreliable. We do have aggressive interrogation techniques that fit within the rule of law.
So I look forward to working with the administration to authorize a military commission that can bring these guys to trial. We've got some of the nastiest people in the world down there for four years. None of them have been going to trial.
The Supreme Court struck down the military commissions. I want to get them reauthorized, put these guys in trial. It want interrogation techniques that are effective that will protect us, that live within our value system, and we can do that working together, and we should have done it two years ago.
All right. Senator Lindsey Graham, thank you.