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State and Nation

March 7, 2013

Senator's filibuster on CIA nominee divides GOP

— WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans split bitterly Thursday over a GOP senator's old-school filibuster of President Barack Obama's CIA nominee John Brennan amid claims that the administration could use drones to target Americans suspected of terrorism.

Just hours after Sen. Rand Paul ended his nearly 13-hour talkathon — and got an endorsement from Minority Leader and fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell — two senior Republicans on the Armed Services Committee dismissed Paul's claims as unfounded and ridiculous and expressed support for Obama's controversial drone program as the nation wages war against terrorism.

Both Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also challenged members of their own party.

"To my Republican colleagues, I don't remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone," Graham said in remarks on the Senate floor.

McCain scoffed at Paul's contention that the U.S. would have targeted actress Jane Fonda during her trip to Hanoi during the Vietnam War.

"I must say that the use of Jane Fonda's name does evoke certain memories with me, and I must say that she is not my favorite American, but I also believe that, as odious as it was, Ms. Fonda acted within her constitutional rights," said McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for 5½ years. "And to somehow say that someone who disagrees with American policy and even may demonstrate against it is somehow a member of an organization which makes that individual an enemy combatant is simply false. It is simply false."

During the height of the long war, Fonda traveled to North Vietnam, visited with the enemy and was widely vilified.

After his remarks, Graham told reporters that he had planned to vote against Brennan's nomination but now intends to support the nominee because the confirmation fight has become a referendum on the drone program.

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