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Sen. Graham’s Bargain

Following up on Jennifer Rubin’s post regarding the legislation that Sens. McCain and Lieberman have introduced to deal with detained terrorists, I note also this report that Senator Lindsey Graham — a close friend of Lieberman and McCain — has offered a grand bargain to the Obama administration:

In exchange for some Republican support for closing the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Mr. Graham is pushing the administration to prosecute those accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks before a military commission, rather than in civilian court as the Justice Department intended.

Beyond that one case, though, Mr. Graham and others familiar with his proposals said he was seeking Mr. Obama’s support for comprehensive legislation setting detailed guidelines for handling all detainees. Such legislation would allow investigators to delay reading suspects their Miranda rights, send most top-level Qaeda figures to military rather than civilian courts and explicitly authorize the government to imprison some terrorism suspects without trials — not just Guantánamo inmates, but detainees who may be captured years in the future.

Graham’s grand bargain seems like a good one to me. He recognizes that the key issue is not the future of Gitmo — one holding facility — but the overall method by which detainees will be processed, held, and if necessary, tried. We need binding rules, and the best way to achieve them is through bipartisan consensus — assuming the Supreme Court would go along. If I had my druthers, I would suggest the deal include special National Security Courts within the federal judicial system, rather than military commissions, to try detainees, but that’s a small matter compared to the importance of denying high-level terrorist suspects the normal protections of the criminal-justice system.



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