From NO QUARTER:
Sen. Graham served for 22 years in the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps. The new issue of Time magazine reports that Graham remains an advocate for the principles of military law:
If you want to understand how a baby-faced freshman Republican Senator from conservative South Carolina has come to be standing against President George W. Bush on the issue of how to interrogate and try terrorism suspects, it helps to know how Lindsey Graham spent part of his summer.
A month ago, when most Senators were back home campaigning and fund raising, he was in Kabul, Afghanistan, answering to "Colonel." Wearing desert fatigues, with an M9 pistol strapped to his hip, Graham was conducting a two-day tutorial on the principles of U.S. military law at the Afghan Defense Ministry. He recalls coaching Afghan military lawyers, who are modeling their system after that of the U.S.: "It's important that when the troops act badly, they are punished to keep good order and discipline, but it's equally important that people believe that the punishment and the system itself are fair."
The only Senator now serving in the National Guard or reserve, and the first in decades to do military duty in a combat zone, Graham adds, "It has to be based on what the person did and not who the person is."
That's pretty much the same argument that Graham is making back in Washington, where he is helping turn what looked like a smart political strategy into an internecine battle among Republicans on Capitol Hill ...
Yesterday, on CBS's Face the Nation, Graham spoke about his willingness to risk his Senate seat to uphold standards of military law and recognition of international agreements such as the Geneva Conventions:
CBS Face The Nation host Bob Schieffer said to Graham, "This would seem to me to be a huge political risk for you. You come from a very conservative state. A state that is probably one of the strongest states for President Bush. You're taking on the president on this. I'll bet you that you get a primary opponent as a result of this."
Senator Graham responded, "Well, I'm getting pounded at home by some people -- why can't you work with the president? The president wants to defend us. The CIA needs to get good information. These guys are barbarians. Why are you standing in the way? I'm not standing in the way. I share the same goals, but I'm a military lawyer. Twenty-two years as a member of the Air Force JAG Corps. When I put that uniform on, I took an obligation as a military officer.
"Now I have an obligation as a senator. I admire our president, I want to help him. But the biggest risk in the world is not Lindsey Graham losing an election. We can have a good country without Lindsey Graham being in the Senate. We cannot have a great nation when we start redefining who we are under the guise of redefining our law."