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Congressman Proudly Claims Syria Trip 'Led To Embarrassment'

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.

24 Comments

Now Steve, do you think that you could have expressed your anger any better? Probably not!

While there are a number of questions surrounding this entire affair (e.g., Cong. Issa), I agree with your analysis wholeheartedly. Your point re: Justice Marshall is especially on point.

Thanks for staying in "control."

Perhaps this is Pelosi's steps in the right direction to prepare for her spot in the Presidency. That is once the whole Bush Administration is finally impeached and removed from destroying our country, getting our troops killed for nothing, and ruining our foreign relations. I applaud Pelosi, Murtha, and the rest who have the guts and brains to stand up to a tyrant, foolish, and evil administration.

Oh really? When exactly did they display the guts and brains to stand up to Assad? Or...did you mean that's what they are going to do when they get to Tehran?

Silly me...I misunderstood you. Of course. It's the evil Bush terrorist. Sorry.

When will you people get over the 'Bush' thing? You do realize that one day soon he will no longer be president, right?

Ah...then there will be peace and tranquility. By golly, if that damned apocalypse doesn't happen in the next 20 months, it'll never happen. World peace is going to break out after the elections and the whole thing will be down the drain.

Fairy tales, my friend.

Come see me in 3 years.

We'll be talking about the same conflict and the same challenges. We only control half of the conflict. The other half of the conflict will still prefer you dead.

Jay -

The Justice Marshall point was stolen (fair & square) from Andy McCarthy. But thanks.

probably one of the older persons to comment, I think that many of my generation support our troops but no longer the Bush approach to the middle East's problems. Enough is enough. We should talk to everyone and anyone. Bob

Given this administration's dismal track record of telling the truth, why is it that you believe anything that David Satterfield says? How does HE know that 85 to 90% of ALL suicide bombers come through Syria and that 90% are not Iraqis? What, do they ID each suicide bomber before he blows himself up? The problem here is that he could be right. But why should I believe ANYTHING these clowns have to say after all that's happened?

Remember how corpses were ID'd in Fallujah, where anyone wearing clothes made in another country was labeled a foreign terrorist? So if I wore a shirt made in China, would that make me a Vietcong?

Just curious if you had a similar attitude to the Republicans, Hobson, Issa and others, who also visited Syria?

Maybe I missed it but didn't several Republican Senator's visit Damascus recently?

Steve, as a Democrat who lives in Lantos's district, I know him all too well and have voted against him many times for being too conservative.

While I'm loathe to stand up for Lantos, this comment sounds entirely out of character for him. Aside from the obvious grammar issues the "interviewer" had in writing the piece, what kind of interview gets four sentences of coverage? (That's the length of the original article.) I would hardly expect the Syrian news agency to be credible, which you acknowledge yourself. In that sense, you've set up a straw man argument just to bash this bi-partisan trip.

Surprisingly, only Ohio papers covered what the Republican on the tour said: Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Hobson said Pelosi "did not engage in any bashing of Bush in any meeting I was in and she did not in any meeting I was in bash the policies as it relates to Syria."

...Hobson, of Springfield, said the trip accomplished two things.

"We reinforced the administration’s positions and at the same time we were trying to understand and maybe getting some voice to some things people wanted to say that maybe they were not comfortable saying to the administration," Hobson said.

Where is the big threat?

Bush is off his job, doing only god knows what, and congress is stepping in, I say fine.

Pelosi's visit to Syria was an act of desperation. If your so concerned about Pelosi breaking the law, perhaps you should consider the many laws the Bush administration has broken. Corruption has never been more blatant in the U.S. governemnt than with these crooks in office right now. It's sickening....

Steve:

Something should be noted by those who bash Bush or think that a Democratic President will wave a wand and suddenly World Peace will bloom. In his post, Algiers Terror "Ghazwa": It is a global war with Terror, in different battlefields on CT Blog yesterday, Walid Phares wrote in part:

This is an additional evidence that the War on Terror is global and not linked directly and exclusively to U.S. Foreign Policy. The Jihadists in Algeria are targeting Algerians from all backgrounds while there are no US troops in that country. It is a struggle that began before 9/11 and is resuming today.

The War on Terror began before Bush (and before Clinton), and it will last a long time into the future.

I voted for GWB in 2000. In 2004, I voted for Kerry-Edwards and a straight Democratic party ticket--the first time I ever voted for Democrats in my life.

IMHO, anything and everything that can be done to undermine this FUBAR American nightmare called the Bush Administration is in order.

Why is it so hard to see (especially for the liberals) what the Syrian and Iranian strategy really is? They want to "open dialouge" to stall us, appease us, and fool us, all the while stabbing us in the back by aiding those elements that are seeking to attack us and kill us.
It would be like if your neighbor came over to distract you with a fresh baked pie and pleasantries to keep you distracted while her husband is raping your daughter in the back of the house.
Is this really so hard to get one's mind around??

What a bunch of palaver. When the Executive branch fails to do it's job, then it is up to the legislative branch to pick up the slack. That is what they are doing morons. Things are NOT better in the ME. They are WORSE!!! Can you not see that?
Spare us your inflated anger and try to be a journalist, as you call yourself. Right now, your just another hack in my mind.

So the President's policy, which seams to be a complete failure, shouldn't be messed with? In seven years of Bush's leadership the country has managed to create the biggest deficit ever; start a war and allow millions of illegal aliens pour across our borders unchecked. Oh my, lets not interfere with all this progress.

Revealing article, showing that the leaders of the Demi's have an agenda that has nothing to do with furthering the best interests of America, but only in gaining more power and money for themselves.

Also very revealing, is the comments by some of the visitors. Such vitriol and ignorance. I pray we never receive what they appear to wish for.

There is a Logan Act because this kind of usurpation of power is so attractive to congress. They have lots of power at home and it is a dark part of human nature that our Constitution was explicitly written to reign in for them to want to extend their power beyond their proper sphere to international dealings, too. Whether the executive branch has fumbled foreign policy is a political question that gets addressed by the people every 4 years. Congress can play with the purse-strings, but can't interfere directly without breaking the law. That law applies to everyone, whether you agree with them politically or not. It is absolutely essential that the law be consistently and evenly enforced, or it is no law at all. When some are allowed the pretense of being above the law, we all find ourselves disrespected. Bad laws stay on the books, because they are no threat--until someone choses for the wrong reasons to make use them for their own political reasons. Shrub has been a lame POTUS, for sure--now is the time for him to step up and do his damn job. He's got nothing to lose and we, as a country have everything to gain by a hard, fast return to rule of law, not rule of feelings and political maneuvering.

Being demi or repub does not give any american the right to visit a terrorist state and try to open their own dialogue. Syria is a mainstreet terrorist state needling in everybody's business. They have proven to the world they do not hold the mental capabilities of a peaceful dialogue of any sort.Any politician who thinks talking to any form of the syrian gov and believes the syrians can be trusted should just stay there and enjoy.. Syria is a state full of hatred,they don't even like each other. They cant even decide on which terrorist group the country will follow.. Put a wall around the country and let em fight it out between themselves and maybe we'll talk to the winner..OoooRahhh

The Bush policies have, by an large, been succeeding. Perhaps not fast enough for some but succeeding nonetheless. The efforts by some Democrats to undermine the war for their own political gain is disgusting. The facts demonstrate that this administration is not only not corrupt but effective. The problems we are encountering are not easily solved in a short time. Our enemies have been at war with us for decades and are firmly entrenched. It will take time to dislodge them. We are doing so. Don't let the ebb and flow of the battle fool you into thinking that we aren't making progress. Don't buy in to the fantasy world of the Democrats.

Let's see....Fonda was a war criminal and Pelosi isn't .....times they are a changin'

Wow...I'm too young to have experienced WWII myself, but my history lessons seemed to include some British guy named...hmmm...Chamberlain was it??? Yeah...I'm sure that will work...let's just talk to the them, maybe have some tea and a good hug at the end!! They're really just good people who have legitimate gripes with us. They'll be totally honest and up front with us and we can trust them...yeah, I'm sure that will work. I just hope it doesn't take 50 million deaths to fix this little "appeasement" episode. Seriously, the ignorance and lack of historical perspective of some folks is frightening!! I've given up on them ever giving Iraq a chance to succeed...they'll ignore every bit of good and over-emphasize ever bit of bad to fit their political agenda. But at least have enough integrity to remember what happened the last time we tried to "have dialog" with people bent on killing us and anyone who disagreed with them. We need to face these dictators down...now...while they're still relatively weak...instead of after they've bought time by "talking" to strengthen their militaries and present a much bigger threat to the free world!! Wake up people...this is about waaay more than you hating GWB. Pelosi is nothing more than a tool being used by Syria and Iran to distract the American people who don't want to face the truth and to hide what they're really up to. And she's so blinded by her thirst for power and hatred of GW that she either can't or won't see it. History will show her to be completely ignorant to the real issues and as more of a hinderance than a help. And before you go accusing me of just bashing the Democrat...no congress member has any business in Iran or Syria meeting with these guys unless specifically sent by the president...and I think he has a whole cabinet office to handle that stuff...I think I read that in a book somewhere too...

The thing that makes it brave is; who would want to go to such a dreadful place? And, talk to such dreadful people even. That's brave right there. I can't imagine wanting to go there for anything no matter how damaging to a political opponent. I do despise that woman, but is it possible that she's not stupid, impulsive, petty, mean, or destructive?

United we stand, divided we fall is an axiom that informs much of my thinking. But let's face it, it's known globally the American political pendulum swings. I've accepted that myself. To imagine American politics duplicitous is simply unimaginative, it's more like schizophrenia. When it comes to interacting with the world flexibly, with a country large and varied as our own, and beyond good cop/bad cop, can it be such a bad thing to present multiple personalities, even so many as a disorder like DID might suggest to an entrenched regime that's totally stuck? It will not be possible to walk out of a global struggle that transcends American administrations, but it could be an advantage to present multiple American faces and values. After all, that's what we are. I grieve we're not united in this. I reject the analogy of fighting a war with one arm tied behind our back -- it's more like fighting a war with one arm stabbing ourselves in the back. I believe that makes us much weaker and impossible to fight a full-on war. I say this even as presenting another face keeps our enemies guessing and keeps them hoping, even as it appeals to the Byzantine mind that would create a complexity if it didn't exist, and even as it offers change for entrenched regimes.

On the other hand, comments here and elsewhere that manage to encapsulate the entire Liberal narrative are wearisome. Who are you trying to mesmerize with that hypnosis? Do you never tire of practicing that grievous mantra? That reality of yours must be so fragile you have to keep reinforcing it lest the whole thing come crashing down for want of attention and by force of external events. To the Liberals who hold that narrative and hold the knife I mentioned, and might soon be holding even more political influence, Pelosi's visit to Syria and upcoming visit to Iran just might help her grasp with greater clarity, and she just might be able to get this across to you, that ALL your enemies are not to your immediate Right.

"Princess Pelosi" and the three Republican traitors should be arrested and tried for crimes against America. The Logan Act should do the trick. The princess is just after power and notoriety--yea--like Hanoi Jane's. One day a Vet will spit in HER face.