Statement of Levin and Graham on Trip to Guantanamo Bay

Friday, March 16, 2007

WASHINGTON – Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., made the following statement today regarding their trip to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Saturday, March 10, 2007:

We were present during the Combatant Status Review Tribunal of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (KSM) at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. We viewed the proceeding on closed circuit TV in an adjoining room to where the hearing was held. We were able to view the entire procedure.

The tribunal consisted of three military officers. The president of the tribunal was a judge advocate. The purpose of the proceeding was to determine if KSM is an enemy combatant under Department of Defense regulations. In addition to the tribunal members and KSM, a personal representative, who was not a lawyer, was present to administratively assist KSM. A recorder and an interpreter were also present.

In the course of the proceeding, a lengthy statement was read by the personal representative on KSM’s behalf detailing his leadership in planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks, personal involvement in executions, and many other terrorist activities. KSM was asked by the tribunal president if he understood his written statement and whether it was accurate. KSM replied in English that he did.

In addition, the tribunal was presented with a written statement from KSM alleging mistreatment during his captivity prior to arriving at Guantanamo. This statement was made a part of the classified record of the proceeding. The panel said that the allegations will be submitted to appropriate authorities. Allegations of prisoner mistreatment must be taken seriously and properly investigated. To do otherwise would reflect poorly on our nation.

The tribunal President made an inquiry as to whether the allegations of abuse affected the testimony given to the tribunal. KSM answered in English that his testimony was accurate, truthful, and voluntary. He also provided additional oral statements in English and it seemed clear that he has a good understanding of the English language. The interpreter was used only rarely. We were impressed with the professionalism and demeanor of the tribunal. KSM was given the opportunity to speak freely. He did so in a non-disruptive way and was respectful to the tribunal personnel.

The true test of the CSRT process is not a case in which the detainee admits the allegations against him, it is a case in which the detainee disputes those allegations. Judicial review of the tribunals is ongoing. We will continue to review the process and will explore possible ways to improve this process through Congressional action.

This case represents an important milestone in the War on Terror. It was apparent to us that KSM wanted to use the tribunal process to detail his role in 9/11 and many other terror plots and to record for history the part he has played in a war that he has unabashedly waged. It was apparent that KSM views himself as a warrior, motivated by religious teachings, and seeks his place in history.

###