PALLING AROUND WITH ‘AN INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST’…. During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), not surprisingly, pressed Defense Secretary Bob Gates on pursuing regime change in Libya.

Graham, who hasn’t exactly been subtle about this, insisted to Gates that Moammar Gadhafi is “an international terrorist” and an “unlawful enemy combatant.” The Pentagon chief patiently explained that there’s a U.N.-backed coalition, and to keep intact, the U.S. will not target the dictator directly.

And while don’t expect Graham to back off, it is worth noting that he has the same problem John McCain has — just 18 months ago, Graham cozied up to Gadhafi, even visiting with him at the dictator’s home in Tripoli.

McCain, for example, considers Gadhafi a modern-day Hitler, with “American blood on his hands,” but that didn’t stop McCain from personally visiting with Gadhafi in August 2009 to discuss delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime.

Justin Elliott noted yesterday that Lindsey Graham has the same problem.

Again, the argument that the U.S. should kill Gadhafi because he supported terrorism ignores the past decade of improving ties between the U.S. government and Libya, which included high-profile visits from members of the Bush administration and a deal in which Libya paid money to families of Lockerbie victims. Graham himself should know this, given his meeting with Gadhafi in 2009.

According to a WikiLeaks cable describing the meeting, Graham was on board with improving ties — and even helping send Libya military equipment — with this “international terrorist”:

“Senators McCain and Graham conveyed the U.S. interest in continuing the progress of the bilateral relationship and pledged to try to resolve the C130 issue with Congress and Defense Secretary Gates.”

There’s even a video of Graham shaking hands with the international terrorist. If the South Carolina senator wanted to try to strangle the monster right there on the spot, instead of talking about U.S. aid to the guy, that was his chance.

I’m curious if Graham has simply forgotten about this, or if he’s just hoping everyone else has.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.