When the Senate voted 67 to 29 on Thursday for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would bar the indefinite detention of American citizens accused of terrorism, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was a surprise supporter.
In past debates, Graham had argued that the NDAA detention provision is a necessary tool in the war on terror.
Graham had repeatedly emphasized his position that, in the war against terrorism, the whole world is a battlefield — “including the homeland” — and that enemy combatants should face justice, regardless of where they are apprehended.
The senator had been critical of efforts to treat terrorism as a law-enforcement problem, and voted against amending the NDAA to prevent indefinite detention last December. (RELATED: MSNBC contributor appears to call Graham a woman)
“And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up,'” Graham thundered at one point on the Senate floor. “You don’t get a lawyer. You’re an enemy combatant.”
But Graham’s vote for the Feinstein-Lee Amendment, which requires jury trials for American citizens charged with terrorism, didn’t win him any plaudits from a libertarian super PAC.
“Lindsey Graham is everything that’s wrong with America,” said Liberty For All PAC executive director Preston Bates in a statement. “He’s a bigoted warmonger who won’t stop until we replace America with Joseph McCarthy’s police state.”
Liberty For All considers Graham one of its top targets in 2014. The Club for Growth may also support a Republican primary challenger.
“Lindsey Graham should know that his 11th-hour pandering doesn’t make him safe. In fact, it exposes his panicked-state weakness,” Bates continued. “He’s on the chopping block.”
The super PAC was founded by 22-year-old John Ramsey, a student who inherited money from his grandfather, with $3.1 million. They helped libertarian-leaning Republican Thomas Massie win his Kentucky congressional primary last May. Massie went on to win the November election.
The group supported three other successful candidates, putting it on the winning side of every federal race it has ever become involved in.
Graham’s vote may indicate he is taking a potential primary challenge seriously, though the Senate as a whole has also shifted on the detention provision.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, and Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul were unsuccessful in a similar attempt to amend the NDAA last year.
Liberty For All blasted Graham as “Lip-Service Lindsey.”
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