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Lindsey serves in Afghanistan September 4, 2006

Posted by Judy in Congressional News, Lindsey Graham, National Defense, Welcome.

Lindsey is the only member of the National Guard or Reserves who serves in the U.S. Senate. He recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan where he helped to train Afghan lawyers and judges.

Graham helps train Afghan Lawyers


America’s Good Life August 21, 2006

Posted by Judy in America.
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Dinesh D’Souza

America provides an amazingly good life for the ordinary guy. Rich people live well everywhere, but what distinguishes America is that it provides a remarkably high standard of living for the “common man.” A country is not judged by how it treats its most affluent citizens but by how it treats the average citizen. In much of the world today, the average citizen has a very hard life. In the Third World, people are struggling for their basic existence. It is not that they don’t work hard. On the contrary, they labor incessantly and endure hardships that are almost unimaginable to people in America. In the villages of Asia and Africa, for example, a common sight is a farmer beating a pickaxe into the ground, women wobbling under heavy loads, children carrying stones. These people are performing arduous labor, but they are getting nowhere. The best they can hope for is to survive for another day. Their clothes are tattered, their teeth are rotten, and disease and death constantly loom over the horizon. For most poor people on the planet, life is characterized by squalor, indignity, and brevity.

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A Question of Values August 10, 2006

Posted by Judy in Social Values.
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America was born of a noble idea of some very intelligent men. Americans are born into a tradition and taught a set of values that they celebrate of Independence Day. Our values are liberty, justice, and rule of law. We praise these values, but lately we seem to have forgotten them in the fight with the terrorists. Terrorists work to change values by violence rather than peaceful means. We work to change things by peaceful means and only use the military when necessary. Wea re told that this is a different kind of war with new rules and therefore our paradigm must shift.

How does the fight effect our values? What is the role of fear in this change? How do we maintian our traditional values while fighting an enemy that knows no bounds? These questions and many others are difficult to answer. However, we would do best if we were to remeber the words of Benjamin Franklin: Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Since the above quote refers to liberty I sahll start there. Our essential liberties were hard won by James Madison in the crafting of a Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constituion are known as the Bill of Rights. Since its framing some of these essential rights have been expanded to cover women and minorities. However, the essential liberty we seem to have little value for today is framed in the Fourth Amendment which provides for the security of our persons, houses, papers, and effects, form unreasonable search and seizure. This essential liberty was confirmed to include the privacy of phone calls in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Katz v United States. Since this landmark decision laws have extended the protected zone to include other electronic communications, through the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Laws such as Title III and FISA direct police and intelligence agencies to get a warrant in order toinvade the privacy of someone’s electronic communications.

Today, however, the administration believes that it has the inherent authority to surveil even U.S. persons without a warrant because we are at war with terrotists and it will keep you safe. Some accept this on the premise that your liberties are no good to you if you are dead. Howeverm this is not what the framers intended when they gave this essential liberty. They had in mind a people that would fight to the death for it as they had done during the American Revolution. This seems to not be the case because people are willing to give up their liberty to be safe.

Next is the subject of justice as a value. We value that everyone is equl under the law and that they will have this day in court. However, when it comes to a terrorist we should feel differently because they kill people. This idea of justice incorporates the ideal of human dignity. Each indvidual has inherent worth and ought to be treated like it. Jesus teaches us that we are to love our neighbor, but calls us to a higher ideal when he commands us to also love our enemies. This call is an appeal to justice.

Justice in the sense of the current policy debates centers around the rules for military commissions, rules for treatment and interrogation of detainees, and that everyone involved gets punished for a crime when is committed.

Military Commissions are a hot topic becasue the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the administration’s commissions because they were not authorized by Congress. The Court decided that, with proper well formulated deviations, the rules of the military commissions must conform to the Uniform Code of Military justice and Geneva Convention Article III. Common Article III is embodies in the War Crimes Act. The point is that even terror suspects deserve basic procedural protections similiar to the ones that give us justice in our federal and state courts.

However, the administration shirks both the Court and the value of justice when it says these people should be treated in a completely different manner that may be unjust. Although he has said he will adhere to the Court decision the proposal the administration presented to congress preserved most of the flaws present in the commissions that were struck down. Not much justice here.

And finally a concept that is strongly related to justice, rule of law. this principle says that everyman great and small must agree to follwo the same laws. No man is above the law. However, there have been many attempts lately to place certain officials above statutorry law by claiming and inherent authority to determine through a signing statement that an act of Congress conflicts with his authoirty. The worst example of this is the Detainee Treatment Act. He reserved the right to disobey particular provisions if he deemed it in the national interest.

There is no retreat from this road and it is a dangerous one. The administration has proposed to amend the War Crimes Act and in essence place civilian officials who commit war crimes out of reach of the courts, while military members will be subjected to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This clearly shows that the administration thinks that its policies and acts taken under these policies are above the law. This flies in the face of the rule of law and justice.

The forgetfulness of some in the nation about our values is leading us down a very dangerous path. These same people that tell us to forget the values when it comes to treatment and trial of detainees are the same people that argue the values issues to win elections. They fight for the sanctity of life and the unquestioned right of the unborn to become live. However, they don not apply this value to terrorists becasue they don’t value life. This contradiction goe to the values offered above. One can argue that ourrights are no good if we are dead. However, the proper question is weather our lives ar worth anything if we sacrifice our liberty, sense of justice, and vlaue of the rule of law. These values have been or compass since the country began and now is no time to change that it is infact the most critical time to fight for our core beliefs.

Change the War Crimes Act, I Think Not August 9, 2006

Posted by Judy in National Defense.
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The administration has insisted that they were not breaking the law or ignoring international standards in its treatment of detainees, however, a draft revision of the War Crimes Act may shed light into their actual desire to change a law in order to protect against prosecution for lawbreaking that has already occured.Today’s Washingotn Post reports on the administration’s proposed amendments to the War Crimes Act, which specify the categories of illegal activities that are absolutely banned while leavig flexibility so great that CIA officials and others operatig under orders of the Presidet or a political appointee immunity from prosecution as well as giving the appoitee immunity from prosecution. However, the military officials, who are immue under the War Crimes Act, would be prosecutable for the Conduct uder the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Our military personnel can be charged with an offense under the general article if their offense is not covered by a specified article.

This attempt by the administration to propose very narrow definitions of war crimes comes on the heels of a request for Congress to define war crimes reproted in the New York Times. The administration did not give them a fair chance to do their work. This proposal will preoccupy and cotrol debate because it is the first and gives staunch supports of the President like John Cornyn and Jeff Sessions suggestions to work with in handling the most difficult issue of our time.

According to my interpretations of the reports these amendments would effectively make the McCain provisions of the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) ineffectual. The McCain provision was approved by the Senate 90-9 and also by an overwhelming house majority.

The language of the McCain provision expressly forbids “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment as well as outrages upon personal dignity.” We have been having this battle since the legislature used their Article I authority to regulate conduct of the War on terror ad place our values at the fore of the fight. The first move by the president was the signing statement to last years defense bill saying that he would follow sections of the DTA when he felt they did not conflict with his claimed Article II authority as Commander in Chief. Sen. Arlen Specter has proposed a bill to allow Congress to have standing in the courts when there is a dispute with a presidential signing statement.

With this history, progression of events, and reports of things that have occured at Abu Ghraib and Guatanamo Bay I am vehemently opposed to the amendmets to the War Crimes Act. Also, with the administration wanting to allow coerced testimony and hearsay evidece in military commissions I beleive that their needs to broad prosecution authority for wrongdoing. I believe that these amendmets not only create a conflict with our values, but also between laws.

Trying Terroists, Round 2 July 16, 2006

Posted by Judy in National Defense.
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John Yoo, a former top lawyer in the Bush administration, has a simple remedy for the Supreme Court decision striking down the military tribunals created for war crimes trials at Guantanamo. Congress, he says, should pass a law overruling the Supreme Court. From a legal point of view, that is not entirely implausible, and given the breadth of the court’s ruling, the administration may be tempted to try to show the court who’s boss.

But that would be a mistake. First, it’s a political loser: Even prominent Republican senators like John Warner of Virginia and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have made it clear they think some changes are in order. Second, it would delay any trials indefinitely, until the courts can decide whether it’s constitutional–which it may not be.


No Nomination Games Being Played June 15, 2006

Posted by Judy in Jim Haynes.
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I agree that something needs to be done about the obstruction of judicial nominees, but what can be done so that we do not change to operation of the Senate? The “nuclear option” is no option at all becasue it will destroy the Senate.

Sen. Graham is blocking Mr. Haynes on principle becasue of his role in the torture scandal. No game here. Mr. Haynes wrote and endorsed the memos.

You bet that there would be cries of foul play if his election were moved up to tomorrow becasue it is not supposed to be until 2008. He is not supportive of nominees colling their heels fro years, but the one in question is problematic and there was some given up by the compromise.

The abuses have existed for a long time, but that does not mean we need a radical solution that makes irreversable changes.

I support the reforms because it would give all nominees of all presidents a fair vote, however, the Senators should have a right to block if there are substantial concerns, such as there are with Mr. Haynes.

I do not have a problem with knowing who is doing the blocking, however, a rules change should be done without the “nuclear option” and the Specter approach is a good start.

Response to “Lord on Judicial Nominations” on ConfirmThem.

Glad to be Lindsey’s Friend June 15, 2006

Posted by Judy in Jim Haynes.
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Paul at PowerLine is as disappointed in Sen. Graham’s lack of a response to the issue of weather he is blocking the Haynes nomination in his recent letter to conservative groups. The partisanship of the retired military officer does not matter as long as his concerns are valid. I am sure that Paul would be siging a different turn if this military officer were a partisan Republican. The other man mentioned, Mr. Guter is not incoherent just becasue he disagrees with a policy. If Mr. Haynes could not break from his ’superiors’ as General Counsel of DoD than it is right to question hsi indepedence as a judge when dealing with the cases that are sure to come before the court in the interceeding years.

Sen. Graham is relying on the testimony of former officers that either worked with Haynes or in the environment that Haynes created when he sold out his DoD position to go along with the Jusitce Department position. It is unfair to say that Sen. Graham is ignoring pro-Haynes viewpoints of the officer cited. If Maj. Gen. Michael Marchand would go in and talk to him or write a letter to him than He would consider his viewpoint as well.

He refers to these memos because they represented DoD policy and the concerns about the effect on the service men and women were valid.

He is talking about the JAG memos, which took him a year and one-half to get and they were classified for some unknown reason. If the advice was followed than why couldn’t the Senator have them sooner? If they weren’t doing aything wrong why classify the opinion of the JAGs when the memos between Bybee, Haynes, Gonzales, and the other civilian lawyers were made public? Why did Secretary Rumsfeld later have to decertify some of the methods and why are we still dealing with this if he listened to their advice and the document addressed their concerns?

The argument that Sen. Graham did not consider the views of Maj. Gen. Roning or supoprters of Haynes is wrong because just the fact that he called someone that poisitively assessed Haynes is telling about his willingness to consider views contrary to his own and the critics.

The letter does not directly address the issue of his role in stopping the Haynes nomination, but conservatives have drawn the conclusion from the wording that he is the impediment. This is no surprise to me because he has said that there was one nominee that he would vote against and I think Haynes is that nominee. If the Haynes nomination goes through committee and to the floor there will be a filibuster and I would rather see Sen. Graham do everything in his power to preserve the civility and working order of the Senate.

No Haynes and No Flag Amendment June 12, 2006

Posted by Judy in Jim Haynes, Social Values.
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According to ConfirmThem via the American Spectator Blog the conservativvegroups are demanding a vote on the Judges, particularly Haynes rather than consideration of a flag amendment. I believe that they only care about Jim Haynes because it appears that a Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is holding him up and they think he should get a vote.

I don’t think that any senator thinks these issues are the equivelent of “boob bait and switch.” They all know the importance of the court and wish to confirm fit and qualified judges. This is their duty.

I am not sure what Mr. Keene complains of we have confirmed 7 of the original 11 stalled nominees, as well as a Chie Justice and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. This seems like most of what they wanted. One nominee withdrew and another faces ethics questions. Mr. Haynes is stalled becasue of his role in the torture memos. The most likely to have the stall lifted is William Myers becasue his questions are ones of ideology rather than ethics or job performance.

Jan LaRue is correct that it is the Senate’s duty to advise and consent, however, that does not mean to just approve every nominee that comes from the White House. It is part of that duty to thoroughly examine a nominee for any problems that they may pose. There is other pressing business beside the judges. Mr. Haynes is being blocked becasue of his role while DoD General Counsel in the torture scandal.

William Greene is incorrect becasue the duty is for the Judiciary Committee to first thoroughly examine the nominee and take care of any objections, when possible, before the nominee is voted out to the floor. Once on the floor they are supposed to get an up or down vote. Sure Sen. Graham will answer to his constituents, but he is doing the right thing by blocking Mr. Haynes.

The issue with Judge Boyle’s rate of cases overturned may not be as much the number or percentage as what issues and questions he has been overturned on by the higher courts.

I agree that reforms need to be passed regarding timetable for consideration of nominees, however, we also need to allow Senators to use their perogative to block unacceptable nominees, even if they must tell us they are doing it.

I agree with all the sentiments expressed about judges being confirmed in a timely manner being the faithful dispatch of the Constitution, but this must also apply when a Democrat president sends nominees to the Senate.

Lindsey Graham Doesn’t Disappoint Me June 12, 2006

Posted by Judy in Immigration, Judiciary, Taxes, Welcome.
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Response to Mike Reino at SC6.

I started out volunteering for the Presidential campaign of John Edwards two years ago. I went to Iowa and Milwaukee as a volunteer. I cam home from one of these trips and I was watching the Senate on C-SPAN 2 when I happened across a specch by Lindsey Graham, who was the Jr senator from South Carolina at th time. The speech was about trade. I remembering who would dare present the unorthodo position that he did.

I have followed his Senate career for the last two years and have defended him every chance I get becasue I do plan to pattern myself after him. I like his style of hammering out compromises and tackling current and controversial issues head on without fear.

Inspite of the high praise I do sometimes wonder what he is thinkig, but it is just a disagreement to me and not a dispointment. There is much wrong with the Senate version of the immigration bill, however, I think his heart is in the right place. THere is another problem with this issue besudes the agency not being able to handle the influx and that is the executive department’s lax enforcement. Sen. Graham is only trying to assist in fixing a problem that the President could have fixed quickly with an executive order that demanded stepped up enforcement of existing law. The solution is not perfect, but that is why we have a conference committee.

I understand the perils of the immigration issues becasue I live in Chicago and have a difficult time finding employment because I don’t speak Spanish. I also understanfd that until we enforce the fines on employers for hiring illegals than we will have the problem.

I do think that Lindsey is caught up in the spirit of comproise as he tends to be because he wants the Senate to work together. It is unfortunate that John McCain and the rest you name are so derided. I do not think that Lindsey should be beat based on the Groupof 14 becasue we still got our judges. Did we really want to destry to Senate and change forever the way it works? I don’t. I like judicial compromise because it has given good judges positions. Some still won’t make it, but that is the process.

I do not think that the second is as plausible as the first. Lindsey made some of the most passionate and compassionate speeches I saw from anyone on this issue. I am sure he recieved som contributions from business interests, but so did all the senators. This is not as much the problem as his bleeding heart may be on the issue.

I am and always will be more like Lindsey Graham than Jim DeMint. I am still not a Fair Tax supporter and will remain a compromiser for the overall good.

No Enemies of Jim Haynes, Just people Asking Pertinent questions June 8, 2006

Posted by Judy in Jim Haynes, Welcome.
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As Paul at PowerLineBlog points out Jim Haynes has his defenders who are also people who worked with him. If there is nothing wront with ihim being a plaintiff against Secretary Rumsfeld in a case over abuses with the ACLU and being on the National Veterans for Kerry sterering committee, than why mention becasue it is not relevant escept as a tool to say look here’s a liberal who worked against the Presidnet in an election and was willing to work wit ht eACLU as a way to tarnish his argument and call it incoherent. He may say there is nothing wrong wotht his but it is enough to plant doubt in the minds of people who might have been willing to support the argument before that Haynes was unfit. This casts a political question that does not belong. I do not believe that this stuff would have even been mentioned if he had worked with say the ACLJ on a case or the Bush Veterans Committee.

Paul has also spoken with a former co-worker that says good things about Mr. Haynes. However, this alone does not take away the serious and important questions being raised by the retired officers, Sen. Graham, and Sen. McCain about his role in the torture scandal.

Why is it not a good enough reason for him to have been instrumental in writing and approving memos that may have contributed to the environment of the Abu Ghraib situation? To me and others this is enough. He may be a dedcated civil servant with the ability to serve on the vourt, however, the nomination is derailed not for political reasons, but for reasons of principle. We don;t torture and we should not condone or support it either. The Haynes nomination is a chance for us to make a conclusive statement about torture and the memos. It is no more disgusting that the nomination is held up than if it were a nominee you did not like who had the same background.

Lindsey Graham may have been block Haynes’ nomination, but he is doing for a reson or principle, not because of politics. THe Judiciary Committee is the place to stop an undesirable nominee. If you want him out of Committee so bad and believe he is being blocked get a majority of senators to sign discharge papers and move him out of committee without a vote. Lindsey is doing the honorable thing standing up for who the American people are and that we do not stand for torture even of terror suspects. He is not carryinf water for John McCain, but standing on his own two feet. THis is a risk for their political careers, but I contend that it is one worth taking. I do not live in South Carolina, but I write letters supporting the block becasue I feel it is the way that we best serve the country and keep the court room a quiet place where everyone can feel that they will recieve justice. The block is the honorable course. I think that the good people of South Carolina should lend moral support in his block of the Haynes nomination becasue of the torture issue. Lindsey is a fine public servant, but he does not support torture. This is his way of telling us the the president is not going to completely get his way and that is correct.