Unethical Quote Of The Month (And Maybe The Year): Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

“As long as they’re dangerous, I hope they all die in jail if they’re going to go back and kill Americans. It won’t bother me one bit if 39 of them die in prison. That’s a better outcome than letting them go. And if it costs $500 million to keep them in jail, keep them in jail. Because they’re going to go back to the fight. Look at the fricken Afghan government that’s made up of former detainees at Gitmo. This whole thing by the left about this war ain’t working.”

Senator Lindsey Graham in a meltdown at the confirmation hearing for SCOTUS nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, before walking out in a tizzy.

Hmmm. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that high ranking elected officials from both political parties appear to have little regard for core Constitutional principles? I’m going out on a limb here by stating that it’s a bad thing.

In fact, it is terrible.

Graham, an alleged conservative, proudly went on record as supporting “pre-crime” punitive measures (Watch “Minority Report” for a fair assessment of how that works) along with a pure “ends justifies the means” endorsement, spiced up by some “if it saves just one life” false logic.The prisoners at Gitmo have never been tried, and contrary to Graham’s rant, the United States cannot say it is “at war.” In this nation, uniquely on the earth, even unquestionable bad and dangerous people have absolute rights. The fact that so many human beings remain incarcerated in Cuba without the benefit of a trial is a national disgrace of long-standing. Obama took tiny baby steps to attempt to break the gridlock, then backed down as his feckless Attorney General traded one unconstitutional approach for another, promising, to assuage the worries of people like Graham, that we would make sure that those tried as terrorists wouldn’t be acquitted.

The number of deadly (to democracy) slippery slopes Senator Graham is polishing with his reckless and ethics alarms shattering rhetoric is horrifying. If we can lock up suspected terrorists indefinitely for what they might do, we can lock up likely murderers, or rapists, or child molesters, or racists, or Republicans. The ideals expressed in the Bill of Rights are not easy ones to live up to, and doing so requires courage as well as integrity.

And faith. In 1769, British jurist William Blackstone wrote that “the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent [person be convicted].” An 1895 U.S. Supreme Court case rephased Blackstone as, “it is better to let the crime of a guilty person go unpunished than to condemn the innocent.” This doctrine, also endorsed by Ben Franklin, can be traced to Roman law, and was embraced by the other Founders as well.

You either believe in the core ethical principles of democracy, or you don’t: the moment of truth arrives when staying the course carries risk. That a conservative in the Senate would advocate the abandonment of individual rights for “the greater good” is, or ought to be, terrifying.

26 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month (And Maybe The Year): Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

  1. P.O.W.’s are generally released after the war is over. These aren’t. If, as he appears to be saying, these are terrorists, then they are criminals and entitled to due process. How does a sitting Senator not know that? Ethics (and legal) dunce!

    • Is the war over? In an era of asymmetrical warfare and terrorism as a means of quasi-state craft, when is a war over? Iran just lobbed some rockets into Iraq last week, threatening some American diplomats. These guys do return to the battlefield, wherever the hell it is. I’m just not as sanguine about these guys, nor do I see the solution as clear-cut as during conventional warfare. Have hostilities really ceased between the U.S. and IS and Al-Qaeda? Not according to those guys, as near as I can tell. Aren’t we in somewhat uncharted waters?

      • The AUMF hasn’t been revoked by congress so we are still at war.

        Side note; It bugs the hell out of me when people say oh we haven’t declared WAR since Wold War II, as if an AUMF somehow doesn’t count because it doesn’t use the word war. There are no magic words. They’re probably the same people who try to say a CR isn’t a budget as if a CR doesn’t direct spending in specific amounts for a specified amount of time. What do they think a budget is? It’s the are you a cop? You have to tell me if you’re a cop of politics.


        Rant over–for now.

          • Your verdict neither changes the existence of or the implications stemming from the AUMF.

            We are at war, we will remain at war until congress acts.

            • At this point, it is technical rather than real. We are still technically at war with North Korea and Iraq. The AUMF does nothing to stop the US from trying and releasing Gitmo prisoners. It just means we can keep them, not that we have to or should.

              • Are we actually at war with North Korea and Iraq? I don’t recall there ever having been an actual declaration of war in either case. In Korea we were (and are) operating under the aegis of the United Nations, whose Security Council authorized a ‘peace keeping’ operation in response to the North Korean invasion. We did sign an armistice — but we signed one in 1918 and then negotiated an actual peace treaty.

                If we are still at war with North Korea, are we then not still at war with China?

                • Whatchu mean “at war with”? Just to make it interesting: Whatever it was, it technically never ended. What’s more, the “police action” above the 38th parallel was the first American war to take arms against another nation without the consent of Congress. One could say it “technically” never began either.

                  In the end “…approximately 150,000 troops from South Korea, the United States, and participating U.N. nations were killed in the Korean War, and as many as one million South Korean civilians perished. An estimated 800,000 communist soldiers were killed, and more than 200,000 North Korean civilians died.”

                  Mostly, the Korean War, as such, is buried in the Cold War mausoleum.

  2. Senator Lindsey Graham is dead wrong!

    What’s happening at Gitmo continues to anger me.

    In my opinion; any prisoner at Gitmo or any other location across the globe that was captured in Afghanistan or Iraq during the wars in those two countries should be repatriated to the countries where they were captured, they are prisoners of war, period!

    Prisoners there that were captured elsewhere in the world during the “War on Terror” should be tried in front of a jury for their crimes against the people of the United States of America. I don’t care if those trials take place on the United States mainland or in Gitmo as long as the trials are conducted as they would be here in the United States of America. If officials cannot properly prosecute these prisoners and charge them with actual crimes then they need to be released, period! If the prisoners are found guilty in a court of law, then put them in a US mainland prison with the other criminals. If the prisoners are not found guilty in a court of law then they need to be repatriated to the country where they were captured, period!

    We are a nation of rights and laws and we need to uphold those values even if the prisoners are likely to resurface and attack us or try to attack us again; this is the price of constitutional based freedom. Either our moral and constitutional values are actual real guiding principles or we’ve as a nation have truly abandoned our core principles and the wackos in the extreme political left are just extrapolating what’s already happening.

    It’s time to suck it up America!

  3. I think this is a complicated issue because of the war angle. I know my comments here will probably draw some ire, but here it goes.

    Fighting an enemy that lacks clear organization and structure is different than a traditional prisoner of war. If you capture a German soldier and then the war ends, you can send the German soldier back to Germany. He will likely not ever fight or do anything again.

    With the type of guerrilla terrorism now practiced in large parts of the world, these people will probably go back and attack again and again, and the rules of evidence will probably rarely allow them to be convicted because it will be hard to prove anything or get anything admitted. There then becomes this weird hole where some terrorists will be able to attack and never be convicted of anything. They of course run the risk of dying if they are fighting, but people committed to violence will learn loopholes very quickly.

    On the other hand, it’s highly likely that innocent people are in Gitmo right now, and it is a violation of their rights to hold them without trial. They pretty much have no way to prove their innocence.

    I’m not familiar with the rules of war and such, but I can see why some people would be uncomfortable with just asserting a purely rights based argument based on a civil society that isn’t at war.

    Lincoln basically did the same thing in the Civil War.

    I feel uncomfortable with holding people like this forever, but we need a way to sort everything out without just setting terrorists free to come attack us again.

    I agree with everything you’ve written here in principle, but the facts on the ground in a war do matter. I don’t know the answer to this issue.

    I suppose we can just risk it all and let terrorists go free if the rules of evidence prevent a conviction.” But, is that really what freedom and rights means? I don’t know.

  4. Terrorism’s rise has blurred its differentiation from war. As traditional wars fade into normative obsolescence, terrorism will be with us for as long as anyone can envision. So, the question: do we release captured “terrorists” or keep them in jail?

    For Syria and Iran, financial support and military patronage of Hezbollah are the most effective means to fight a proxy war against Israel, forcing the Jewish state’s withdrawal from the “security zone” in southern Lebanon.

    Historically, declarations of war are meant to articulate the political purposes of the war, guide military operations, and set the boundaries for justified conduct. Even as such formal declarations have become a lost art in the West (the U.S. formally declared war on neither Serbia nor Iraq), bin Laden’s declaration contains clear statements of motivation and strategy. Furthermore, al Qaeda’s Encyclopedia of Jihad is as comprehensive as any military manual in its attention to battle organization, intelligence gathering, and other aspects of war fighting.

    So, we were never “at war” with these “terrorists” in the first place. Yes, the declared war on us, but we never formally declared war on them. Therefore the question is are we now illegally imprisoning them?

    • Public Law 107–40
      107th Congress
      Joint Resolution
      To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible
      for the recent attacks launched against the United States.
      Whereas, on September 11, 2001, acts of treacherous violence were
      committed against the United States and its citizens; and
      Whereas, such acts render it both necessary and appropriate that
      the United States exercise its rights to self-defense and to protect
      United States citizens both at home and abroad; and
      Whereas, in light of the threat to the national security and foreign
      policy of the United States posed by these grave acts of violence;
      Whereas, such acts continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary
      threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United
      States; and
      Whereas, the President has authority under the Constitution to
      take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism
      against the United States: Now, therefore, be it
      Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
      United States of America in Congress assembled,
      This joint resolution may be cited as the ‘‘Authorization for
      Use of Military Force’’.
      (a) IN GENERAL.—That the President is authorized to use all
      necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed,
      or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001,
      or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent
      any future acts of international terrorism against the United States
      by such nations, organizations or persons.

      section 8(a)(1) of the War Powers Resolution, the Congress
      declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the
      War Powers Resolution.
      this resolution supercedes any requirement of the War Powers
      Approved September 18, 2001.

      It is–possibly disastrously–broad, but it sure looks like a declaration of war to me.

  5. As western civilizations will eventually learn, perhaps before all our throats are slit, the only solution to an intractable, relentless enemy who constantly seeks to destroy our democratic institutions, our freedoms and all we hold dear is to eliminate the threat. No quarter should be given, nor should prisoners be taken when your foe is unaccepting of your right to exist. Followers of radical Islam do not recognize that here will ever be an end to their war against us, or that there ever could be, until we are destroyed. An enemy who does not recognize any conventions concerning the conduct of warfare is undeserving of any of the attendant protections. The term “existential threat” gets thrown around a lot nowadays, but radical Islam is certainly an existential threat to western civilization, and always will be. Certainly, there needs to be a rethinking of the rules of conventional warfare when dealing with an enemy for whom asymmetrical warfare is standard practice. I fear that we will quite possibly “coexist” our way into oblivion.

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