Apple vs. FBI: Why This Anti-Terror Hawk Switched Sides

March 10, 2016, 4:19 PM UTC
GOP 2016 Debate
U.S. Sen Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to the media before the CBS News Republican presidential debate at the Peace Center, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. Graham spoke about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who died today at 79. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Rainier Ehrhardt — AP

One of the Senate’s fiercest counter-terrorism hawks has turned against the FBI in its standoff with Apple, the District Sentinal reports.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who last December called on Silicon Valley to stop selling encrypted devices, expressed serious concern on Wednesday about the precedent the Department of Justice would set if it forced Apple (AAPL) to dismantle the iPhone’s security features.

“I was all with you until I actually started getting briefed by the people in the intel community,” Graham told Attorney General Loretta Lynch during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. “I will say that I’m a person that’s been moved by the arguments about the precedent we set and the damage we might be doing to our own national security.”

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Not long ago, Graham was taking a hard line against so-called warrant-proof encryption.

“There is technology available to terrorists where they can communicate without—even with a court order, they can communicate without us knowing,” he told Fox News’s Greta van Susteren last December. “That has to change.”

Now, according to the Sentinal, he’s having second thoughts.

When Lynch testified on Wednesday that “this issue is about the criminal investigation into a terrorist act and the need to obtain evidence,” Graham demurred.

“It’s just not so simple,” Graham said. “I thought it was that simple.”

Watch the exchange on YouTube:

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