Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a member of the Air Force JAG Corp., has repeatedly broken with his party’s ranks in the past, condemning waterboarding as “clearly illegal under domestic and international law.”
When the Senate brought the Intelligence Authorization Bill — which contained a provision banning waterboarding — to the floor this week, Graham was absent from the vote because he was in Iraq. When contacted by ThinkProgress this week, Graham’s office said the senator would have voted against the anti-waterboarding bill. Asked to explain Graham’s change of heart, the spokesman said, “He disagrees with applying the Army Field Manual to the CIA. The CIA is a completely different operation.” In the Congressional Record on Feb. 13, Graham explained his opposition to the bill, claiming the Army Field Manual would limit the CIA’s operations:
I believe in flexibility for the CIA program within the boundaries of current law. The CIA must have the ability to gather intelligence for the war on terror. In this new war, knowledge of the enemy and its plan is vitally important and the Army Field Manual provision will weaken our intelligence gathering operations.
In Oct. 2005, however, Graham was singing the Army Field Manual’s praises when he said it is sufficiently flexible for intelligence gathering:
You can change the Army Field Manual to adapt techniques to the war on terror. There is a classified section of the Army Field Manual. There is nothing about its adoption that limits the ability to aggressively interrogate people to get good intelligence.
It appears that the Graham, as well as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are willing to ditch their consciences in favor of backing President Bush’s misguided national security priorities.