Graham: We Have Forgotten We Are at War

September 21st, 2010 at 1:42 am | 8 Comments |

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In a passionate speech at the American Enterprise Institute today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) bemoaned the lack of attention national security issues had gotten during the current election cycle before arguing for Miranda warning exemptions, the urgency of rethinking the Geneva Conventions, and the need for an at-large ambassador to Gulf States.

Graham began with a full-throated critique of the topics being given attention in the ongoing election campaign:

“We’re within days of a major shift of power in Washington, and you would never know that this nation is involved in two wars and looming threats that could change the course of humanity… No one seems to want to talk much about it. I would argue that it’s going take a dramatic event for that to change, unfortunately. I hope and pray that it’s not going to require an attack on the country to talk about the things we should have been talking about a long time ago.”

A key theme of Graham’s speech was that the United States was treating terrorism worldwide as a criminal matter, rather than as what he saw it to be: a war. Senator Graham said that the war has an unprecedented dependency on intelligence gathering, but that at the same time, the country is not able to effectively interrogate prisoners.

While insisting that waterboarding was torture and impermissible under the Geneva conventions, Graham suggested that not developing better interrogation techniques “makes [us] less safe… there has to be something other than waterboarding [yet also]… something other than the Army Field Manual.”

Graham criticized President Obama for issuing an executive order that prevented the CIA from carrying out interrogations, and said that the world should rethink the Geneva Conventions, and retool it for a post-9/11 world:

“The world needs to come together and relook at the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions have served the world well even though the worst among us will never comply with it… the world we’re in depends on intelligence gathering, not combating a nation state. That means good, sound, firm interrogation techniques that are not available to this country right now. Nine years after 9/11, we don’t have the ability to effectively interrogate an enemy prisoner.”

Graham framed the notion of closing Gitmo in the context of war, noting incredulously that the United States does not have a location to hold prisoners captured overseas:

“We’re a nation without a prison in a war. Guantanamo Bay hasn’t had a new prisoner in years, and is not likely to be used when it comes to future captures… I will not support closing Guantanamo Bay unless you can do it safely. And right now we have been punting.”

Senator Graham asserted that terrorists should not be read their Miranda rights, and that effective interrogation would require that a waiver. “The Congress needs to come up with national security exemptions when it comes to the War on Terror because we are fighting a war, not a crime,” he said.

On relations with the Arab world, Graham laid out a variety of suggestions, such as increased trading with Arab states and pushing the Arab world to give as much to Palestinians as the United States does. Notably, Graham suggested that one way to isolate Iran would be appoint an ambassador at-large for the Gulf States, much like the U.S. has for NATO. “The Gulf States together can form a buffer against Iranian ambitions. It can be a good ally. But we talk to them one by one and let them fight among themselves,” said Graham.

Unfortunately, discussion on the issues that Senator Graham identified has been sparse, and even sparser among members of Congress. The Senator voiced his displeasure at the topics being discussed before tomorrow’s Defense Authorization Bill: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the DREAM Act, and abortion clinics on military bases.

“Would you know we’re at war, listening to the political discourse? Has there been a serious exchange between any candidates – tea party, Republican, vegetarian, libertarian, Democrat – about [for example] what we should be doing with Iran?” Graham quipped.

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • Five Tents; Pandora’s Box; the Dennis method; It’s TUESDAY Morning in the Palmetto State.

    [...] THROATED — In a passionate speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) bemoaned the lack of attention [...]

  • Nanotek

    “Has there been a serious exchange between any candidates – tea party, Republican, vegetarian, libertarian, Democrat – about [for example] what we should be doing with Iran?”

    Wouldn’t, Sen. Graham, such a serious exchange include the need for an inventory of the impact on our intelligence gathering in Iran of its nuclear weapon development after Cheney/Rove and others in the Bush White House publicly revealed, during ‘war time,’ a corporate identity of the CIA and the identity of a covert agent who was watching Iran? If we don’t know what we lost, we don’t know what we need to rebuild.

  • DFL

    It is hard to take Graham seriously when he and McCain wish to surrender the border. Iran is hardly an enemy and it is 10,000 miles away. Third World immigration threatens America as much as the Germans and the Huns threatened the Western Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th Centuries AD.

  • Saladdin

    DFL, just for clarification’s sake, when the Germans stormed the walls outside of Rome, weren’t they attacking, rather than immigrating illegally?

  • Saladdin

    Actually it’s hard to take Lindsey seriously when he’s been censured twice and rumors about his sexuality continue to persist. Maybe that’s why he’s so vocally vehemenent v. DADT.

  • Bebe99

    Hey I can’t think about wars right now, I’m too worried about all the other terrors out there: the muslims want to impose sharia law; illegal immigration is going to force us all to learn Spanish; the democrats are imposing a marxist regime. So excuse me for being distracted. Oh wait, that was the point.

  • busboy33

    “while pushing for Miranda exemptions and a new look at the Geneva Conventions. ”


  • mickster99

    Last estimate on numeric strength of Al Qaeda was 400 or so and is holed up in Pakistan and pretty well incapable of doing much exempt keeping the loony right wingers a frothing state of constant fear. And we have spent 2 trillion dollars on this “war” fighting people who had nothing to do with 9/11 i.e. Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. This lunacy that the US is in danger of coming under Sharia law and that the struggle with Islam is the greatest threat we’ve ever faced is hysteria and paranoia beyond belief. But that dumbass Gingrich now thinks Obama is a bigger threat to us than Al Qaeda what with his Kenyan anti-colonial channeling of his dead father. When, if ever, will sanity begin to kick in on the right?