It was nice listening to Lindsey Graham making sense, while it lasted.
The Republican senator from South Carolina was so outspoken in his criticism of the Republican nominee for president (“a nut job…loser as a person and a candidate…[who is] ill-suited for the job”), and of the partisans who nominated Donald Trump (“my party has gone batshit crazy”) that it was almost possible to imagine that Graham was a more reasonable and responsible Republican than Trump.
Then Lindsey Graham reminded us that, before he was trashing Trump for trashing the Constitution, Lindsey Graham was trashing the Constitution. Indeed, Graham has a long record of defending the Republican Party’s assault on civil liberties in ways that Trump merely echoes.
That’s what Graham has been doing this week, as he has proposed that Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in last weekend’s New York and New Jersey bombings, be treated as an “enemy combatant.”
The South Carolina Republican issued a statement this week in which he argued that holding Rahami as an enemy combatant would allow for aggressive and immediate questioning of the suspect. “That should be our focus, not a future domestic criminal trial that may take years to complete,” griped Graham, who added, “I have little confidence the Obama Administration will take the course of action I am proposing. Instead, they will read him Miranda Rights as soon as possible…”
“As an American citizen,” Graham acknowledges, “Rahami cannot be tried by a military commission. Any future trial at which he would be a defendant would take place in federal district court or state court.” But in the meantime the senator wants to apply a set of rules that align with his current enthusiasms—even if that means authorities must disregard the dictates of a Constitution that since 1791 has stated: “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Constitution, since 1868, has also included the charge: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”