Sen. Graham dismisses NSA Verizon surveillance, "Rand Paul's World"

William Douglas

When told that Republican Sen. Rand Paul called the revelation of the not-so-new, congressionally-approved collection of phone records of Verizon customers by the National Security Agency "an astounding assault on the Constitution," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rolled his eyes, sighed, and apologized in advance for getting so worked up about the remark from junior senator from Kentucky and possible 2016 presidential candidate.

"Sen. Rand Paul, he's a libertarian, and in Rand Paul's world you have almost no defenses against terrorists," Graham said. "In Rand Paul's world, you can't hold somebody for questioning who's been involved in an attack on our country. The drone program has saved thousands of lives, our soldiers can't go to the border regions, nobody is talking about armed drones flying around the United States because you don't need them, but if you need to use force to prevent a terrorist attack in the United States, you have the legal authority to do it."

Graham said he respects Paul, who recently knotted up the Senate with a filibuster in which he warned against the domestic use of military drones, but "I see the threat to our nation differently" than Paul.

"I see the threat to the average American, radical Islam coming to our backyard trying to destroy our way of life. He sees the threat (from) the government that's trying to stop the attack. I'm more threatened by the radical islamists than I am the government agencies who are trying to protect us," Graham added. "These people are Americans, too. They have families. The people that run the drone program are not SS officers. So the one thing about Senator Paul that gets me going a bit is that he thinks that the people running these programs somehow don't care about civil liberties and are a bunch of Nazis, they're not. They are patriotic Americans."

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William Douglas
McClatchy Washington Bureau