Senator Lindsey Graham continues to solidify his position as the Senate’s leading advocate of terrorist rights. At a hearing today, Graham described himself as “emotional” on the subject which, he says, is “keeping him up at night.” I thought I also heard him say that the question of how we interrogate and try terrorist detainees is the most important issue we face as a nation.
In the portion of the hearing I heard, Graham offered only one argument in favor of the primacy of the detainee rights issue — the claim that if we don’t treat terrorists well, then our troops will be abused when captured by the enemy. This argument is imbecilic. Our enemies aren’t looking to us for a model on how to treat captives. And if they were, I should think our troops would be delighted if al Qaeda replicated the Bush administration’s approach, which has never included beheading, the preferred al Qaeda method of treatment.
Graham also argued from the American tradition. But there is little in the American tradition that supports great solicitousness towards our sworn enemies in time of war. Graham’s reliance on euphemism suggests that his cupboard is bare.
Senator Levin made a better run at an argument when he suggested that our “mistreatment” of detainees will cause other nations not to cooperate with us in the war on terrorism. But there is no evidence to support this theory. From all that appears, we are getting great foreign cooperation which has been instrumental in preventing successful attacks on our homeland. There’s no reason to believe that our allies are going to jump ship if detainees don’t start receiving court martials. And nations like Lebanon (which provided the intelligence that helped thwart a recent plot) probably think we’re too soft on these guys.
Retired Rear Admiral John Hutson, the Clintonista Navy JAG who has helped lead the charge against Jim Haynes, added a whiff of intellectual honesty when he acknowledged that the course he and his pal Senator Graham have in mind would at times cause us to lose out on valuable intelligence. Senator Graham responded not by expressing concern over the loss of the intelligence and any resulting loss of life, but by saying that he would be blamed for that loss of life. No, Senator, this is not about you and your career. But yes, Senator, you will be blamed.