Graham Holds Firm on KSM Trial
By Channing Turner | July 2, 2022 3:43 pm

The New York Times Magazine profiles Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who says he’s willing to compromise with Democrats on a range of issues from immigration to Guantanamo — except for the trial of alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

In the profile, Graham expressed a willingness to work with Democrats on immigration and energy issues, praising the Obama administration’s war strategy, and even cooperating to close Guantanamo.

However, the Republican refuses to concede on the issues of habeas corpus or military tribunals for terrorist suspects. Graham adamantly opposed Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try KSM in a Manhattan federal courthouse.

According to New York Times Magazine:

Graham has pressed the administration to deny accused terrorists the right to file habeas corpus petitions and to establish military tribunals for the most dangerous suspects. He fought Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man suspected of masterminding the 9/11 attacks, in a Manhattan federal courthouse. In January, opposition from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others led Holder to rethink his position. Shortly after that occurred, Graham made a visit to the West Wing. [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel escorted him into the Oval Office. Obama told Graham that the decision of whether to try Mohammed in a civilian courtroom or before a military commission “was always 51-49” — a close call.

“Mr. President, I understand where you’re coming from intellectually,” Graham said he replied. But, he added, public support for a civilian trial on domestic soil was “just not there.”

“You’re probably right,” Obama conceded.

After recalling this conversation for me, I asked Graham if he appreciated that level of dispassion from the president. “Yeah,” he said. “I totally do. I think that’s the right way to be.” I commented on the temperamental difference between Obama and George W. Bush. “Yeah,” Graham said. “I find it almost reassuring.”

Read the full profile here.


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