Graham — who happens to be a Verizon customer — said he had no problem with the company being forced to turn over data if it will help the government track terrorists.
People who have done nothing wrong have nothing to worry about, he claimed.
“We are very much under threat. Radical Islam is on the rise throughout the region. Homegrown terrorism is one of my biggest concerns. It is happening in our own backyard, and I am glad that NSA is trying to find out what terrorists are up to overseas and inside the country,” he said in an appearance on “Fox and Friends.”
According to Graham, the NSA will sift through the data and monitor the telephone conversations of those it deems a threat to national security.
The administration broke its silence after news of the surveillance broke.
“Information of the sort described in the Guardian article has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States,” said a senior Obama administration official.
“On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” the official added. “The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call.”
News of the surveillance angered people on both sides of the political aisle, with former Vice President Al Gore calling it “obscenely outrageous.”
The court order mandating the records be turned over on an ongoing, daily basis was granted on April 25 and is effective until July 19.
Graham recently caused controversy when he wondered if the First Amendment applies to bloggers. After taking heat, he admitted that bloggers have the same rights as those who work for the so-called “mainstream media.”
In April 2011, the South Carolina senator suggested limiting free speech after a Florida pastor burned a Koran.
“I wish we could find a way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war,” he told CBS’ Bob Schieffer.
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- Lindsey Graham: Let’s limit freedom of speech in light of Koran burning
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- New Jersey Imam: Free speech critical of Islam a ‘national security threat’
- Chicago policeman to journalists: ‘Your 1st Amendment rights can be terminated’