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Graham fabricated Senate debate

The Post and Courier
July 12, 2006

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham may have a future as a fiction writer.

He's being accused of fabricating a Senate debate and sending it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which didn't think much of the work. The high court dismissed it.

At issue is an account of an exchange that Sens. Graham, R-S.C., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., wrote last year to be inserted into the Congressional Record.

It details what the two lawmakers purported was part of the Senate's debate over why terror detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should not be tried in civilian U.S. courts.

The actual discussion Graham and Kyl inserted in the Record never took place.

But their comments, written more than a month after the actual debate, became part of the terror case filing that went to the Supreme Court.

Reached Tuesday in Washington, Graham said he did nothing improper, contending that senators file amended speeches in debates all the time.

"That's what you do," he said. "You enter it on the record as if it were part of the debate."

Critics, meanwhile, called the Graham-Kyl account unethical.

John Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, writing in the online legal journal FindLaw last week, said he had not seen "so blatant a ploy, or abuse of power, since Nixon's reign."

He called their effort "a bogus colloquy."

Others have said it's not so much that the record was amended but that it was done so in such an ornate fashion.

The Graham-Kyl script supported the Bush administration's legal contention that terror suspects should not be afforded courtroom rights under U.S. law.

That stance was rejected last month after the Supreme Court invalidated the government's system of military trials and, instead, ruled that the detainees must be treated according to international standards.

The case was known as the "Hamdan decision," named for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, and a Guantanamo detainee.

Graham and Kyl submitted their Senate account in a "friend of the court" brief, in which the two lawmakers wanted to back the White House on keeping the military trial option.

The two attempted to make the dialogue - added to the Dec. 21, 2005, record - appear real.

Kyl, is quoted at one point as saying, "Mr. President, I see that we are nearing the end of our allotted time."

In another instance, Graham and Kyl inserted Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas in the fabricated Senate floor discussion, saying "If I might interrupt," according to published accounts of the comments.

The issue at hand was the Bush administration's contention that the Detainee Treatment Act disallowed the federal courts oversight of detainees attempting to challenge the government.

The Bush position, and that advanced by Graham and Kyl's comments, was to show that the law passed by Congress was meant to apply to all detainees held by the United States, retroactively. Democrats, meanwhile, said that wasn't the case.

The insertion of the added comments was noted and rejected by the court.

Graham said the criticism of his addition was overblown and that senators often insert scripted remarks.

"I know what I've done. I've done it before and I'll do it again," he said.

As for Dean's criticism: "John Dean speaks for himself in terms of his character and his ethics," Graham said.

Original Text