Graham: No secret drone data revealed
February 20th, 2013
07:52 PM ET

Graham: No secret drone data revealed

By Mike Mount

A U.S. senator insists he did not reveal any secrets when he publicly mentioned the number of people killed in drone strikes overseas.

Republican Lindsey Graham told an audience in Easley, South Carolina, on Tuesday that the little-discussed drone program had killed 4,700 people, according to a report by Easley Patch website editor Jason Evans.

"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 was quoted as saying at the Rotary Club event.

Graham did not disclose the source of his information at the event, which is closely held by the government.

Reached on Wednesday, Graham told CNN's Dana Bash that the number he used was based on media reports, not U.S. intelligence. Graham said he was referring to total killed around the world.

For years, the United States has been targeting al Qaeda suspects in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and other countries with no official announcement or acknowledgement of the strikes.

The strikes, conducted by the CIA, are only mentioned in reports from local media after known terrorists or facilitators had been killed in explosions.

CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen has reported numbers between 1,900 and 3,300, including civilian deaths as high as 305 and as low as 261 associated with the strikes.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates deaths worldwide at 4,855, but that also includes U.S. military covert strikes with drones and other aircraft in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia .

Drone strikes have grown sharply overseas under the Obama administration.

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said they are only used against groups and individuals who pose the most serious threats against the United States.

"We are using all of the tools" available to fight al Qaeda and that includes drones, he said last year.

He said the United States is in "full compliance" with domestic and international law.

"We have the right to take action," he said, adding it is "done prudently."

CIA director nominee John Brennan said he supports more public discussion of the drone program so Americans better understand how it is used.

"I have been a strong proponent of trying to be as open as possible with these programs as far as our explaining what we're doing," Brennan, who currently serves as the president's counter-terrorism adviser, said at his recent Senate confirmation hearing.

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Filed under: Security Brief
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  16. Ord_Miller

    Another Con al-Qaeda supporter too wrapped up in con-servatives' non-stop political hate campaigning to notice that in actuality, the majority of Americans despise traitors.

    February 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • jeniny

      And conservatives fall for democrats as well, and then act like they hate obama so much. they lie and lie.

      February 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Reply
  17. Ord_Miller

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  21. ED

    Graham would love to sit and be seen for years to fulfil his ego.It would be a plus if his CLOSEST [FRIEND ?] Mccain could be there to hold Grahams hand and mop Lindsey.s brow as the inquire'es question hurt his feelings. It also would let the real government work by tying up the EGOES these two.

    February 23, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  22. John the Historian

    So glad the Neocons like Frum, Liebermann, Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams, Fleischer, Wormser, Perle, Sensor and Libby will not get their war on Iran, a country of 80 million people. War is only death, desteruction, misery. horror and disease. When will politicians pledge their children for any future war. We know about the chicken hawks like Bush II, Cheney, Rush, George Will, and Pat Buchanan. Imagine a war and nobody shows up.

    February 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Reply
    • jeniny

      Pat buchanan is very much anti-war. Obama killed all those thousands of innocent civilians that breed at least 10 more terrorists. Using drones is very much pro-war as it leads to bigger wars. Drones have only increased al quaeda membership – thanks to a us president and us congress. you must feel good as americans.

      February 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  23. donna

    Time For An Investigation
    If Lindsey did leak the info, arrest him

    February 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  24. Hugh Mann

    Graham is a drone

    February 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  25. k_Daraa

    How would either CNN's Peter Bergen OR Senator Graham know how many people had been killed, especially how many civilians were collateral damage? Most of the drone strikes were in regions where virtually no neutral journalists go without being murdered by the takfiri sunni extremists in those areas. All reports coming to the outside press are manufactured propaganda releases by groups like the Taliban, AQ in Pakistan and Yemen, al shabaab in Somalia. These are NOT credible sources, yet the goal of western news is to sell the story, so they lap this propaganda up like a dog re-eating it's up-chuck, glad to have the excuse to regurgitate it again. If you use credible sources of information such as the 19FEB2013 published UN report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan for 2012, where drones were also used extensively, you get a much better idea of what the true overall collateral damage rate really was. The UN report said taliban and AQ killed about 81 percent of suspected civilian casualties. Of the remaining 19 percent, all but about 2 or 3 percent were killed by AFA, NOT ISAF military operations. So two percent of 4,700 people is about 94 people over a decade of warfare in at least four countries. If conventional airstrikes had been used, thousands of innocents would've died. Instead, the only broad-stroke risk is to sociopathic takfiri men-of-violence who chose a path of murder as their response to their own inadequacies. These sociopaths hide behind women, children, and old people, often bullying them into submission in the name of their sick situational ethics, claiming piety.

    February 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  26. JDL

    They had better have daily hearings for Graham for no less than a 1000 hrs and demand more info for the next 6 months,
    hold his feet to the fire, persecute him like he does everyone that doesn't hold his views( or he holds a grudge against ).
    Let him spend every waking moment defending himself for his actions, only seems fair!

    February 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • k_Daraa

      Actually I'd rather they hunted down Ayman Al Zawahiri, the AQ Nr 1, and held his head into the fire! Why waste time with US senators...that is what we have tar and feathers for.

      February 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  27. T

    .........anybody find Graham's brain laying around?..................He seems to have LOST IT.............

    February 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      it was picked up by Iranians, that's why you never trust politicians with military secretes, they are too careless with their brains.

      February 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  28. michaelfury

    " 'Sometimes you hit innocent people and I hate that, but we're at war' and war is a racket, as a wise man once said," said Graham.

    February 22, 2013 at 8:04 am | Reply
  29. Ted Diamond

    Droning is the best thing that ever happended to the bad guys. All they need to do is surround themselves with women and children, when they are killed bring in the press, and suddenly American politicians start falling to the ground crying and thumb sucking along with the ACLU. Impossible to win war when you impose impossible rules on your self. You should not ever target innocents but no war can or ever was fought with 100% collateral free damage. so, to win all the bad guy has to do is surround himself with innocents. We can't win this war. We don't have the ......

    February 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Another weak minded Tea Partier spewing out his ignorance on this web page! Gee Ted, where is your shame or do you take pride in being dumb? Did you ever get past the 5th grade in school?

      February 22, 2013 at 10:15 am | Reply
      • tex from Virginia

        Why all the hate Mr. McCarthy?

        February 22, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        I did not make above post, phunnie boy did under my name. Hey Phunnie boy are you trying to make me look stupid?

        February 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
  30. Herro there

    Listen you guys, get ready for a new world order.

    February 21, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Reply
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      February 22, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Reply
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  31. massoud

    Switzerland is a neutral nation when it comes to intervention in other countries affairs, they are prosperous and have more freedoms then the United States of America. My question to our foreign policy makers is how come Islamist radicals do not hate Switzerland's freedoms, and also why have they never been attacked by Islamist radicals ?

    February 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Reply
    • Clint Eastwood

      The answer to that is quite simple, massoud. Switzerland does not call for "regime change" in other countries and minds it's own business very much unlike the U.S., Great Britain and France! Other European countries would do quite well to leave the Eurozone, quit taking orders from Washington D.C. and follow the Swiss example!

      February 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
    • Ted Diamond

      That would be because Switzerland is protected by the European Nations and by the U.S. Not a bad gig.

      February 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Reply
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Quite wrong, Ted. The Swiss are protecting themselves as they have for centuries by staying out of other peoples' business! Neither the U.S. nor the European nations have nothing to do with it, so don't give credit where none is due!

        February 22, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • Pete

        @Ted,they were neutral in WWII as well and warned the Germans that if they invaded them or neighboring Norway they'd bring the mountains down on them and they meant it!!So Germany stayed away as much as possible but after their soldiers died in avalanches trying to sneak in thus brought on by Switzerland Germany stayed out.And why don't democrates create a committe to go after Graham just as republicans Issa has done with his witchhunts many times before..Isn't that fair in politics,I think it is!!

        February 22, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  32. George Patton

    Droning is a very complex an sensitive subject. So I play neutral. I am for Droning Pakistan, but I am against Droning Syria.

    February 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm | Reply
    • Clint Eastwood

      Cut it out, Pfunnie boy. Any fool can tell by now that you're just another bird brained Tea Partier!

      February 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Reply
  33. Joi Gibson

    @Uncle Mike
    Did Little Terd check with Big Terd?
    That is just too funny. Thanks for the laugh!!

    February 21, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  34. Uncle Mike

    Did Little Terd check with Big Terd?

    February 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  35. bob

    Come out of the closet Lindsey, or just shut up.

    February 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Reply
  36. Lyndsie Graham

    If this bozo Lindsey Graham is right, this is very bad news for Islam and great news for the right-wing thugs in Washington! The ultimate goal for this unsavory crowd is to make Islam just as much of a thing of the past as the German Gothic language itself. Anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about when I mention Gothic German is a dumb as an ox, but then again, I guess that most of you idiots here don't!

    February 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Reply
    • George Patton-2

      Very well stated, Lyndsie. Yes, I know that Gothic German was spoken by the Goths during the early Middle Ages, but try explaining that to these idiots here blogging their right-wing nonsense on this web page!!!

      February 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Reply
      • Russ

        @Lindsey same as George – Your Qran was written in Arabic. You talk to yourself and you don't read anything other than Koran to broaden your perspective. Why do you care about any other language?

        February 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
      • George Patton-2

        @Russ – you are a smart person !!! where did I give away? I use 10 different American, Chinese names, but I am Mohammad from Pakistan. I work on Pakistani embassy in NY.

        February 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Clint Eastwood

      Thanks for your input, Lyndsie. Just ignore these Tea Partying punks like this phony George and Russ here who can't even find their r...ends, using both hands! These Tea Partiers must really take pride in their ignorance!!!!!

      February 21, 2013 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  37. Gene

    The success rate of drones is impressive: over 4700 Islamists exterminated without putting a single human in harm's way.

    February 21, 2013 at 10:43 am | Reply
    • Russ

      Armed drones are used in Islamist countries like Pakistan to eliminate terrorists. Also, FBI should assign one unarmed drone per Muslim as a part of the terrorist surveillance program in the US. More efficient surveillance of Muslims will reduce the burden on the TSA and improve overall security.

      February 21, 2013 at 10:50 am | Reply
    • v_mag

      Muslim are to be "exterminated" like vermin? They aren't human? That's what you just said, and it echos what was being said in Germany 80 years ago about another Middle Eastern people. You're in some nasty company when you make such statements.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:02 am | Reply
      • Russ

        @v_mag - Systematic genocide of Shiite by Pakistanis shows how devoid of humanity they are. Sure, you could go ahead and compare them with Germany 80 years ago. But what is happening in Pakistan is much worse - Shiites, Ahmadis, Hindus, Jews, Christians - all being slaughtered by Pakistanis. Australia is giving asylum to Shiites now to save their lives from genocidal Pakistanis - it is happening today, not 80 years ago!!

        February 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
      • George Patton-2

        Muslim are to be "exterminated" like vermin? No, but feel free to suggest.

        February 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Chris

        @Russ "one unarmed drone per Muslim" really? how many Muslims do you estimate are in the world? how much does a drone cost? To everybody, why can't you refrain from derogatory remarks based on perceived ideology. Is an entire ethnic or religious group perverse due to the actions of a minority of adherents? Some of the nicest people I have ever met have been Muslims, and I have many a time found fellow Christians to be much more short and abrasive. Islamic extremists, as far you can nail down the term, account for less than 1% of all Muslims. One of the most prolific terrorist organizations, the Tamil Tigers, were not Muslims nor were they based on religious ideology. What is the IRA? what is their religion? is it their driving ideology? read this article and then maybe you will understand a bit more about terrorism. . Another article that might be worthwhile is

        February 22, 2013 at 12:36 am |
  38. Floyd from Illinois

    If the number is classified and Graham leaked it, I don't see how he can deny that he leaked classified information.

    Except, of course, that he is a Republican, and they are expected to deny the inconvenient obvious.

    February 21, 2013 at 9:47 am | Reply
  39. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    We should have used drones against the children and innocent civilian slaughtering regime in Syria. To hell with Syria. Why didn't somebody stop the brutal genocide against the defenseless 70,000 powerless childern and women there?

    February 21, 2013 at 9:33 am | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      What about the powerless women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen being slaughtered by our ungodly drones, SEAL Team Alpha and Omega? You forgot to mention that!

      February 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Reply
      • Russ

        @Lindsey – Too few to worry about when compared to the staggering genocide numbers of Shiites in Pakistan. Ignore those insignificantly small numbers to focus on the appalling genocide numbers and see the bigger picture.

        February 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  40. v_mag

    So, we put our planes in sovereign airspace and blow up citizens of those countries, including innocent bystanders, and that's alright, because we are at war. Not at war with those countries, but at war with a concept called "terrorism".

    There is already discussion about whether the U.S. can put up drones over America and murder people at will. Why not? If they can do it in a foreign country, why not here?

    I guess Graham would sing a different tune if his family happened to be the collateral damage in question. To which I would say, quoting him, "Sometimes you hit innocent people and I hate that, but we're at war..."

    February 21, 2013 at 9:14 am | Reply
    • Russ

      What do you mean by "we are not at war with those countries"? You are so confused. Please allow me to infuse some clarity into this discussion:
      There is a "War on Terror". If a country harbors terrorist, runs terrorist training camps, and funds terrorism, it is perfectly OK to use drones. Once the "War on Terror" has been declared, there is no need to declare a war on each individual Islamist country. Pakistan, Yemen etc. whichever country supports terrorists, will bear serious consequences - and they should know it by now.

      February 21, 2013 at 10:56 am | Reply
      • v_mag

        The "War on Terror" is a construct invented by the Bush regime, which by the way is guilty of war crimes. Following your logic, it is okay for our government to kill American citizens on American soil, if it thinks they might be involved in terrorism. Since there are no borders in your concept of war, no one in the U.S. is safe from drone strikes. My friend, that IS terrorism. I'll bet you think you want smaller government, but you support mass murder by your government at the same time. You're conflicted and extremely confused.

        February 21, 2013 at 11:08 am |
      • Russ

        @v_mag - I know that you are making a case that Islamist countries should be allowed to continue hiding terrorists like Bin Laden without any consequences. You hate drones because those shatter your dream of inviting Al Qaeda to your house for dinner and Koran reading. Drones can be very useful in the US to do surveillance on Muslims. Drone strikes in your Pakistan can be very good for Pakistanis - you just don't know it yet.

        February 21, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  41. dubya

    as this fine southern belle plays games with holding up Hagel, and CIA director Brennan, all over his alleged outrage about Bengazi....which is such a non-story at this point it is absurd, he is spewing classified information to the local Rotary club.....

    lindsey should just come out of the closet, retire from congress, and let the adults continute governing the US.

    February 21, 2013 at 9:07 am | Reply
  42. Santa

    Its not nice to kill people who can only fight with sticks and stones on the ground

    February 21, 2013 at 6:16 am | Reply
    • Pat

      But it is nice to help people humanely with drones who want to put on a suicide vest and blow themselves up violently. 4700 served and counting.

      February 21, 2013 at 7:16 am | Reply
      • Santa

        What else can they do

        February 21, 2013 at 7:36 am |
      • v_mag

        Do you support drones over America, then, if we suspect someone of terrorism? You don't mind if you are accidentally murdered by a drone? Okay then for the government to kill people and ask questions later? Do you remember My Lai and the other baby murders in Vietnam? America used to be embarrassed by mass murder. Now Lindsey Graham, and the President, support it as if it were patriotic. Apparently, so do you.

        February 21, 2013 at 9:22 am |
      • Chris

        You keep talking about armed Drones over the U.S. and yet I see no proof that such a thing is even being discussed. Are their or will their be UAV's flying over U.S. cities? Sure their will be as they are an effective tool for surveillance. To think that the U.S. government would choose to use a Drone/Hellfire Missile to take out a target in a U.S. city/state when they have local and state police, National Guard ect that can apprehend such people since our government (unlike the Pakistani government) has control over all U.S. states i.e. we don't have a autonomous tribal region outside of the control of the government that leaves little need for armed drones to come take you out.

        February 21, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • v_mag

        On Feb. 15, Lee Doren asked the President if he claimed the right to kill an American citizen on American soil using drones. The President did not say, "No", implying that he considers it an option. How safe does that make you feel?

        February 21, 2013 at 11:18 am |
      • Russ

        @v_mag - No problem with ridding people like Awlaki - He was an Islamist - he was just using his American passport as a shield against the drones. His strategy did not work. His citizenship was revoked by an American drone! Your unhappiness about the death of a fellow Islamist is understandable but please seek sympathy somewhere else.

        February 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  43. Bangash

    No more fooling in the name of secrecy. Drones are showering bombs killing many in a broad day light, with the consent of Pentagon and approval of Congress. This is inhuman therefore always being kept secret. Americans should realise that extraordinary reliance on MIC for the last seven decades has always added to the hate against Americans and has consumed huge national resources therefore it is a time to asses and change this continued march to the hell.

    February 21, 2013 at 5:01 am | Reply
    • Pat

      More innocent Shiite have been killed by Sunni terrorists in Pakistan in a single day than those few civilians drones killed in a decade. Those civilians were aiding and abetting terrorists, and were not innocent.

      February 21, 2013 at 7:22 am | Reply
  44. Rob

    The truely amazing part and another example of Obama being two faced. Obama and his staff have realesed tons of classified infor to try to brag about Obama and there was no investigation but let something out that makes Obama look bad and suddenly it's a big deal. The biggest leak in Washington is OBAMA. If graham leaked info he needs to be held accountable but Obama and his clan need the same treatment.

    February 21, 2013 at 4:26 am | Reply
  45. Cheneys5deferments

    The ( ): the drones are eliminating al queda leadership.

    The (-): for every innocent civilian killed, dozens more will join to fill the ranks of al queda.

    The (=): we are creating new insurgent armies for a worldwide al queda network. Escalating the conflict for the next 100 years.

    February 21, 2013 at 3:44 am | Reply
    • Cheneys5deferments

      We are using 21st century technology to kill 7th century religious zealots. You can never win this type of war.

      February 21, 2013 at 3:52 am | Reply
  46. Scott

    I hope Graham gets booted out in the next Republican primary. Most of these people in office are more interested in staying if office rather than contributing to a effective but limited government.

    February 21, 2013 at 3:28 am | Reply
  47. jack johnson

    Now Congress doesn't get early, or hour by hour updates (THEY CAN NOT KEEP THEIR MOUTHS SHUT). Had they known about the Ben Laden raid our seals would have been killed over leaks by Congressmen wanting a political advantage.

    February 21, 2013 at 12:32 am | Reply
  48. scowdie

    He is speeking for the good americans.

    February 21, 2013 at 12:15 am | Reply
    • v_mag

      You are "speeking" for illiterate Americans, apparently. If you're Christian, did you ever read the stuff about "love thy neighbor", "Thou shalt not kill", or "Turn the other cheek"? How does that fit with cowardly drone strikes? Is a love of mass murder part of your religion or of being a "good American"?

      February 21, 2013 at 9:26 am | Reply
      • dl74

        v_mag = d_bag
        Your conspiracy theories should leave you locked in your house, and hopefully soon, with out access to the internet.

        February 21, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  49. Pat

    Drones dropped 4700 dirt bags without losing a single valuable life. Drones are awesome.

    February 20, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Reply
    • v_mag

      That could be a quote from 1930s Germany.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:10 am | Reply
  50. Randy, San Francisco

    Sen Graham's turn to be on the hot seat. Maybe there should be an offiicial investigation as to whether he leaked secret information and tried to cover up his crime.

    February 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Reply
    • scowdie

      they already are.

      February 21, 2013 at 12:06 am | Reply
  51. Desert Tortoise

    The good Senator should only open his mouth to change feet. Just saying ..........................

    February 20, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Reply
  52. Larson

    Bipartisan agreement is so difficult to find these days. However, when the cause is so noble, both democrats like Obama and Republicans like Sen. Graham fully support it. I am glad that they set their differences aside agreed to support drone strikes on Al Qaeda terrorists.

    February 20, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Reply
  53. cbr

    And I have a bridge to sell you! Sen. Graham needs to stay away from microphones and remain out of the spotlight. He has said and done enough already. The media needs to stay away from him because Mr. Graham likes to talk when the light is shining on him. Veracity is not always a strong suit for the Senator but continually being interviewed by the media is a top priority for him.

    February 20, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  54. Bill

    Graham and McCain both seem to be opening their mouths too much lately and sooner or later they will say something they shouldn't. Their hatred of President Obama is blinding them to any sensible reality.

    February 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Reply
    • J.V.Hodgson

      Totally agree both Graham and McCain should put a sock in it and let the votes on Brennan and Hagel proceed.
      Our about to be top military man Alllen ( wrongly reported to have done misdeeds re the Patreus matter) has decided to decline Obama's nomination to be chairman of the J C's of staff.
      I suspect military man and man of honor that he is, he is not prepared to even risk being grilled by Messrs GRAHAM AND McCAIN about that matter; nor his opinins on drone strikes, which he supports.
      He has seen how it gets so nasty it's unbelievable... so he's going to retire and get some cushy advisor job at much higher pay without anything more than a formality interview.
      A conspiracy type theory but look at his reasons for telling Obama thanks but no thanks... it does not take much reading between the lines... and will take him away from any possible contact with those he is " supposed to have beeen guilty of some wrong doing." YUK!!

      February 20, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Reply
      • scowdie

        coverup you bet 4 good americans dead yes it does matter.

        February 21, 2013 at 12:11 am |
      • Pete

        @scissors what about the 300 or more that died under Reagans watch and George Schultz was secretary of state than and nothing done..Different when the shoes on the other foot doesn't it hypocrites and remember it was Issas committes that cut defense spending and security cuts on embassies as well,just like reminding you what republicans seem to get away hypocritally with but when reminded they play the I don't remember game,just reminding you so you don't again forget your screwups!!

        February 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  55. George Patton-2

    just 4,700 people!!!! lying bas tard, my Pakistani friends tell me the number is much higher, well, like typical Republican, he doesn't want to give credit to Obama.

    February 20, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  56. boungiorno

    why does everyone take everything out of context LIAR

    February 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  57. Searcher

    Graham has a lot of practice sticking his foot in his mouth. He has become a very TESTY spokesman for the Republican Party.

    February 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Reply

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