Lindsay Graham is trying to kill a measure to protect Americans from cyberattack because one of his biggest donors, the government of Qatar, has given him marching orders to kill it. Enough already.
According to panicky pollsters with inside knowledge, South Carolina Republicans have become so disgusted by Lindsey Graham’s failure theater and transparent insincerity that he’s in real danger of losing the Senate seat he’s occupied since 2003.
It’s about time.
Graham’s latest betrayal came just this week: his Senate Judiciary Committee postponed a vote to issue subpoenas to the Big Tech CEOs who deep-sixed the blockbuster New York Post story that found hard evidence—on his degenerate son’s abandoned laptop—that Joe Biden has been busy monetizing his public office.
By taking the story off every social media platform—and suspending accounts of those attempting to disseminate it (up to and including the Post and even the president’s press secretary) at the behest of the Democrats—the tech giants perpetrated the most outrageous partisan assault on First Amendment freedoms in U.S. history in a blatant effort to influence the outcome of an election.
Unforgivably, Graham’s move effectively killed the opportunity for Republicans to highlight it before Election Day. He wasn’t even up for another episode of Failure Theater.
Graham had already registered his outrage in conservative media for the benefit of the rubes back home, while reassuring his long-time pals in the deep state he shares their ludicrous view that the newly revealed info documenting Biden family crimes is somehow part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Lindsey has been pulling off this ruse successfully for decades.
But it doesn’t seem to be working anymore.
Graham Tests His Constituents’ Patience
For the last four years, voters repeatedly have seen Graham pledge to “get to the bottom of” the Russia collusion hoax and call to account the lies and crimes of the intelligence agencies—only to discover that he never had any intention whatsoever of doing that. You can only buffalo your constituents for so long, and it finally appears that Lindsey has run out of bullshit. Not even the most credulous can tolerate it anymore.
He’s had a surprisingly long run in testing those limits, though. In his quarter-century on the national political stage, Graham has always been a political chameleon, as well as a notorious drama queen.
Graham has long been one of the most enthusiastic trigger-fingers in the Senate, regularly calling for “boots on the ground” to address any and every situation arising around the globe. As the late John McCain’s partner on so many Middle East road trips, he has called for the arming of a whole litany of Islamist groups and cheered the strategically disastrous wars in Syria and Libya.
With Graham, there was always something vaguely ridiculous about his bellicose bluster, as well as his desperate lobbying—as a sitting U.S. senator—for military glory and honors. Absurdly, he successfully wangled a Bronze Star Medal out of the Defense Department in 2014 for “service as a senior legal adviser to the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Weird and tacky.
It’s easy to forget in 2020, but Graham did actually run for president in 2016. Barely registering in the polls, Lindsey’s embarrassing run set some sort of record in the vehemence with which he denounced the eventual standard-bearer. “What is Donald Trump’s campaign about? . . . He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot . . . You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”
Contrast that with his chummy assessment of Democrat Joe Biden: “If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person then there’s probably—you’ve got a problem.” He judged Biden “as good a man as God ever created” and “the nicest person I think I ever met in politics.” It’s no coincidence that both Biden and Graham are charter members of the two-party consensus and that they both immediately recognized Donald Trump as a mortal threat.
For all his bloviating about American national security, Lindsey has been MIA or worse when it comes to actually protecting American companies and citizens from hostile foreign players, usually as a result of orders from his big donors.
One recent example is cybersecurity. Remarkably, in July the House overwhelmingly passed a serious, bipartisan HACT Act amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that, for the first time, would give American victims of hacking legal recourse in cases of malicious hacking conducted by foreign governments or their agents.
The measure carves out a cyberattack exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which currently shields foreign state actors from American lawsuits, protecting them from any form of accountability in cases of state-sponsored cyberattack.
It couldn’t come at a more crucial time: An unprecedented number of foreign-sponsored cyberattacks have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, threatening our nation’s health care system and the security and wellbeing of our citizens, which is a major concern of the Trump Administration.
Foreign-state and state-sponsored actors from Iran, Russia, North Korea, and, most importantly, China have seized on the COVID-19 pandemic to victimize the U.S. government, state governments, private entities, and countless individuals, inflicting untold damage to national security, our efforts to combat the virus, and the wellbeing of millions of Americans.
Recent urgent alerts from both the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warn of the ongoing threat from foreign-backed hackers and spies working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus.
The HACT Act amendment is the only viable piece of legislation on the table to address the threat. All that remained was for the Senate Armed Services Committee to retain this provision in conference in order for it to be included in the final version of NDAA presented to President Trump for his signature.
Now comes word that Graham, using his leverage as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has demanded the elimination of this important measure to protect Americans from cyberattack because one of his biggest donors, the government of Qatar, has given him marching orders to kill it.
Sure, Qatar has been a major sponsor of terrorism worldwide, and wields its outsized influence to do everything possible to undermine Trump Administration policy in the Middle East. But Graham knows where his bread is buttered, and Qatar rightly judges that any effective measure to crack down on foreign-sponsored cyberattacks would put them in the target sites.
So they instructed Graham to kill it, and he dutifully complied. Never mind the fact that this was a golden opportunity to demand accountability for foreign-sponsored hacking, and thatwithout accountability, foreign state actors have no deterrent as they continue to prey on the American government, businesses, and individuals, gravely undermining our fight against the virus.
Providing basic protection for U.S. citizens from cyber attacks orchestrated by foreign governments would seem to be a sine qua non for anyone genuinely interested in national security—anything less amounts to an abdication of the fundamental responsibility of our government to protect its citizens.
This bipartisan bill was the easiest of political lifts, but when it’s a decision between the national interest and campaign money, there’s no question where Lindsey Graham is going to land.
If Democrats take the Senate, it will be because Republicans like Graham have made an art form of sheer gutless expediency and self-dealing, while treating their base as clueless dolts. No conservative with any principles should mourn a Lindsey Graham defeat. The GOP is better off without charlatans like him.