Senator Lindsey Graham said he supports the president's use of drone strikes in the Middle East.
Graham spoke to Easley Rotary Club members Tuesday afternoon, and was asked by Mayor Larry Bagwell to give his opinion on the use of drones during a Q and A session afterwards.
“It's a weapon that needs to be used,” Graham said. “It's a tactical weapon. A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is now armed.”
The Pakistan/Afghanistan border is “very hard to get to,” he said.
“We don't have any troops in that area,” he said. “So that's where Al-Qaeda and terrorists groups like the Akani Network and Al-Shabaab are residing, very remote regions. These drones can stay in the air for up to 24 hours and we can monitor people's movement on the grounds.”
He said the idea of judicial oversight of drone strikes and targets is “crazy to me.”
“I can't imagine in World War II for Roosevelt to have gone to a bunch of judges and said, 'I need your permission before we can attack the enemy,'” Graham said.
He said the drone program “has been very effective.”
“We've killed 4,700,” Graham said. “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of Al-Qaeda.”
He spoke of Anwar Al-awlaki.
“He's a guy that was born in the United States, he radicalized Major Hasan, the guy at Fort Hood,” Graham said. “He helped plan the underwear bomber attack that failed. He's been actively involved in recruiting and prosecuting the war for Al-Qaeda He was found in Yemen and we blew him up with a drone. Good.
“I didn't want him to have a trial,” he continued. “We're not fighting a crime, we're fighting a war. I support the president's ability to make a determination as to who an enemy combatant is. It's never been done by judges before. I support the drone program.”
He said drones are needed along the US border.
“I don't want to arm them, but we need drones along the border so we can really control illegal immigration,” Graham said.