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(CNN) – One of President Barack Obama’s most vocal critics in the Senate said Sunday that he approves of how the administration is handling the recent terror threats.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, also said he plans to continue his trip to Egypt with fellow Republican Sen. John McCain, despite a United States global travel alert amid fears that al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks
“I appreciate what the administration is doing. They're taking the right approach to this,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
In an unprecedented move, the U.S. announced it would close 22 embassies and consulates Sunday, including in Yemen, which was a focus of concern.
Graham, who’s on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said this was the appropriate action, compared with actions before last year’s terror attack against a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
“The threats were real there. The reporting was real. And we basically dropped the ball,” he said. “We've learned from Benghazi, thank God, and the administration is doing this right.”
The senator said the attack in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead, further fueled momentum for those wanting to terrorize the U.S. And he remains highly critical of the administration’s handling of the aftermath of the attack.
“A year has passed, and no one's paid a price. After Benghazi, these al Qaeda types are really on steroids, thinking we're weaker and they're stronger,” he told Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent.
Their goal, he said, is ultimately to get Western interests out of the Mideast.
“This is an effort to terrorize us, to drive us out of the Mideast. And if we ever take the bait and try to come home and create fortress America, you’ll have another 9/11,” he said.
Graham said he would be leaving for Egypt “very soon,” where he and McCain will urge military leaders to begin the democratic process of turning over control to civilians and hold elections.
Asked if the senators plan to have extra security as they travel, Graham said “I hope we are.”
“If you’re going to pick between the two of us, Sen. McCain is far more valuable than I am,” he joked.
Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.