Enough. It is time to lay the hammer down and put an end to what has been referred to even by the Washington Post as the 'shadow presidency'. Regardless of what carefully chosen words have been used thus far by participants in explaining their mission in visiting with Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, Congressman Tom Lantos makes their end-game abundantly clear in an interview he gave to Assad's regime-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency. But, with teeth fully clenched, this is not a game, nor is it an election campaign tour. Brace yourself for the text in full.
Washington, (SANA)- Democratic Member of the US. House of Representatives and Chairman of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affaires Tom Lantos has underlined that Syria vehemently believes in the dialogue in its relations with the US and in dealing with the issues.
In an interview on Tuesday, Lantos described the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to Damascus as important to open dialogue channels with it as saying: "The visit expressed in a marvelous way interests of the US, that led to embarrassment of the current US administration which has closed doors for dialogue with Syria."
Any questions? But Lantos continues...
"President Bashar al-Assad strongly encourages the continuation of the Syrian-American dialogue," Lantos added.
Well, you bet Assad "strongly encourages the continuation of the Syrian-American (read: American Congressional) dialogue." Lantos, Pelosi and all others from both sides of the aisle are a gold mine for the state sponsor of terrorism. But wait, there's more...
Lantos expressed desire to visit Damascus once more and that he will not comply with the policy of the US President George W. Bush regarding it.
[All emphasis added.]
Again, any questions? This is an interview with Assad's media organ. Before grinding my teeth to powder, two points that must be considered in the context of the above and the current global conflict at hand.
First, in a round-table interview that ThreatsWatch participated in yesterday with Ambassador David Satterfield, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Coordinator for Iraq, in discussing the security situation in Iraq with regard to Assad's Syria, he said the following:
The fact is, as has been the case since 2004, the majority -- some 85, 90 percent of all suicide bombers, the people who are blowing up innocent Iraqi men, women and children, are coming across the Syrian border. They are 80 to 90 percent-plus foreign, not Iraqi in nationality. There is a reason why these individuals are transiting in those numbers through Syria and not through Jordan, not through Saudi Arabia. Syria has a responsibility, an obligation as a sovereign government to take control of its territory and its borders and stop this transit.
Has this fact escaped those who insist that tea with Bashar will lead to a solution? Syria is not a contrived addition to the State Department's list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
Furthermore, any position or view held is a moot point considering that it is the Executive Branch - and expressly not the Legislative Branch of the United States Federal Government - who holds sole responsibility for conducting Foreign Policy. When I asked him earlier in the week regarding this (and the application of Logan's Law), my friend Andy McCarthy then made this abundantly clear at National Review yesterday.
It is settled beyond peradventure that the authority of the United States over the conduct of foreign relations rests exclusively with the executive branch. As John Marshall, later to become the nation’s most important Chief Justice, famously observed, “The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external affairs, and its sole representative with foreign nations.… The [executive] department is entrusted with the whole foreign intercourse of the nation.” In 1936, the Supreme Court explicitly acknowledged in its Curtiss-Wright Export decision, the “delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations[.]” And, as convincingly explained in the Wall Street Journal by the eminent Professor Robert F. Turner, the congressional debate over passage of the Logan Act demonstrates that the law was understood to bar legislative interference with the president’s management of American diplomacy.
Now, as the title of his column suggests ("Don’t Investigate Pelosi -- Debate Her"), Andy was disposed at the time to forgo pursuing actual charges against Nancy Pelosi in deference to the greater wisdom of debating her, even though "there isn’t much question that Speaker Pelosi has committed a felony violation of the Logan Act." I agreed with his conclusion that, "For a change, how ‘bout we go with the silk purse rather than the sow’s ear?"
The question at the time was one of whether the Bush Administration was suddenly up to a debate or whether it would once again be left to 'us' to effectively engage. The words of Congressman Tom Lantos being touted in the Syrian press arm today has caused me to reconsider the 'silk purse.' Perhaps, though, there remains hope that the regime's SANA media organ possibly concocted the entire missive. It would not be the first time for them. But that is probably an unlikely scenario, given past statements by traveling members of Congress.
As a writer, I have worked hard over the past two years to embrace a more professional use of language and expression. Learned have been the necessary tools of measure, moderation and the avoidance of knee-jerk rapid responses and rants without pause for deeper consideration before penning incomplete thoughts. Yet today, the sudden rush of anger brought on by a very real sense of betrayal - in a national sense, not a political sense - presents a stern test of applying these things.
Congressman Lantos' words today have given rise not only to personal anger, but pause and reconsideration to the attractiveness of the 'silk purse' alone. Doubts about the Administration's inability to effectively communicate in defense of its own policies - and in this case, exclusive Constitutional obligations - and the relatively muted effect when left to others to engage give reason to suspect that the 'silk purse' has a good chance of never leaving the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shelf in the department store of domestic debate.
The bravado with which the Damascus visits by members of Congress are "undermining the president by going against his wishes, and... undermining the policy" is maddening. The legislature has tools at its disposal, which can be seen in the current debate over the Iraq War Supplemental Spending Bill. But Foreign Policy must have a single execution point abroad.
Lantos' words could not speak any clearer to that very point. Assad gets it and is clamoring for more. It's time our elected officials get it, too.
Otherwise, the next stop is Iran, and Ahmadinejad has more goodie bags and vases anxiously awaiting their arrival.