Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) dramatically stormed out of Tuesday’s confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, capping off a half-hour “festivus” of grievance by melting down over his desire for the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to remain open indefinitely.
Graham, who has already voted twice to confirm Jackson to the federal bench, devoted much of his Q&A session on Tuesday to both airing a host of conservative grievances and seemingly finding any reason to justify not voting to place Jackson on the Supreme Court.
Apparently, Jackson’s previous work representing detainees at Guantánamo Bay as a public defender was just the opening Graham—an extreme war hawk—needed.
While justifying the need for the detention camp to remain open to hold prisoners in the ongoing War on Terror, Graham also asserted that the recidivism rate of detainees discharged is exceptionally high.
Following Graham’s grilling of Jackson about a legal deposition she filed on behalf of detainees in which the Republican senator argued she accused the government “of acting as war criminals,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) calmly offered some additional context.
“On the issue of Guantanamo, 39 detainees remain. It’s $450 million per year. Each of these detainees is being held at the expense of $12 or $13 million per year. If they would be incarcerated in Florence, Colorado, the supermax federal prison, the amount would be dramatically less. Since 2009, with the beginning of the Obama Administration, the repeat rate of Guantanamo detainees is five percent.”
This absolutely set the South Carolina lawmaker off.
After arguing about the recidivism rate, he also demanded that Durbin declare whether he supported the “indefinite detention” of Gitmo detainees in federal prison, claiming that they are combatants in a world war.
“What does it matter what it goes back to?! We had them, they got loose and they started killing people. If you are one of the people killed in 2005 does it matter to you when we released them?!” Graham shouted.
“We're at war, we're not fighting crime! This is not some passage of time event,” he continued, his voice rising. “As long as they're dangerous, I hope they all die in jail if they're going to go back to 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 cost $500 million to keep them in jail, keep them in jail because they'll go back to the fight. Look at the freaking Afghan government made up of former detainees at Gitmo. This whole thing by the left about this war ain't working!”
And with that, Graham rose from his chair, grabbed his drink, and stormed out of the chambers. Jackson, meanwhile, remained quiet during the awkward exchange and merely waited for the next set of questions.