Graham: ‘I'm Totally Supportive of the Administration's Rationale on Drone Strikes’

February 7, 2013 - 10:49 AM

Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) (AP Photo)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he's completely supportive of the Obama administration's reasoning behind drone strikes on terrorists on foreign soil, even those who are American citizens.

When asked by a reporter on Wednesday if he was "comfortable with the administration’s rationale on drone strikes," Graham said, "Yes, I'm totally supportive of the administration's rationale on drone strikes."

According a document obtained and reported on by NBC News, American citizens can be targeted and killed by the U.S. government if the person is believed "to be a 'senior operational leader' of al-Qaida or 'an associated force'" even in the absence of evidence that they are engaged in a plot to commit an act of terrorism on U.S. soil.

Specifically, the memo says, an "informed, high-level" official within the U.S. government can determine if the suspected American was "recently" involved in "activities" that he or she deemed posed a threat of a violent terrorist act and that person shows no signs of abandoning those activities.

Graham also said that the drone program was a "logical use of how you deal with an enemy combatant."

"The law of war applies," Graham said. "The attack of 9/11 was an act of war not a common crime. Anwar Al-awlaki chose to side with the enemy. He was deeply involved in al Qaida operations."

The South Carolina senator said that the Obama administration was right in putting Anwar Al-awlaki on the controversial kill list.

"The president was right to put him on the target list," Graham said. "And they were right to take him out," he continued adding that he preferred to have captured him.

"My criticism of the administration is we don't have a jail to put somebody in if you capture them to interrogate them," Graham said. "We've had one capture in four years. We're losing valuable intelligence becasuse we won't use Gitmo. So I'd give you [Obama] an F in detention policy but I've give you [Obama] an A in the drone program.

"The idea of stopping a strike against an al Qaeda operative like Anwar Al-awlaki because he happens to be an American citizen runs counter to the law of war and turning this decision over to unelected judges is crazy," he continued.

"You don't let unelected judges decide who to target in the time of war, and you can't have 535 commander-in-chiefs. I think the president's on solid legal ground. I think he's doing the right thing. I applaud his administration," he continued.

"When Jay Carney says it was ‘legal, ethical, and wise’ he was right in my opinion," Graham concluded.