Today on CNN, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said he “strongly disagrees” with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) bipartisan delegation to Syria, calling it a “mistake” and “bad for the United States of America.”
Lieberman added, “I say this because we’re in a war. We’re in a war against the Islamic terrorists who attacked us on 9-11-01.” CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer responded, “But they had nothing to do with 9-11.” Lieberman dodged the issue and changed topics.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who visited Syria last year, defended Pelosi’s trip. “I believe in the maxim, hold your friends close and your enemies closer,” Specter said. “President Ronald Reagan declared the Soviet Union to be the Evil Empire. Immediately thereafter he undertook negotiations with them.” Specter said he has been to Syria 14 times over the last two decades “and have been able to be helpful in a number of situations that I can document.”
SPECTER: I believe that Assad can be negotiated with. I’ve made 14 trips there, Wolf, in the last two decades, and have been able to be helpful in a number of situations that I can document. And I think opening discussions with Syria are very, very important, and I’d rather Condoleezza Rice did it, but if not, it’s up to Speaker Pelosi and Arlen Specter and others.
BLITZER: What about Senator Lieberman, what do you think?
LIEBERMAN: I respectfully and strongly disagree with Arlen Specter and with Nancy Pelosi. I believe her visit to Syria was a mistake, that it was bad for the United States of America and good for the Syrians. And I say this because we’re in a war. We’re in a war against the Islamic terrorists who attacked us on 9-11-01. Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism.
BLITZER: But they had nothing to do with 9-11.
LIEBERMAN: But they have — but let me tell what you they have to do with what we’re into now. The Bashir Assad Syrian government has allowed terrorists and arms to flow across its country into Iraq that are being used to kill Americans today. Syria has been implicated in the assassination of a very strong popular Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Syria is supporting Hezbollah, which is trying to unseat our ally, Senora, in Lebanon. Syria is supporting the terrorist group Hamas against our allies in the Fatah Palestinian movement, and of course, Israel. The administration, in all fairness — people in Washington should know, if they don’t know, the administration has been trying in many ways, in diplomatic discussions with Syria since 9-11, to get Assad to change his behavior and he has not. When Nancy Pelosi goes there, she sends a message of disunity. She legitimizes the Syrian goverment.
BLITZER: So I assume you disagree with Senator Specter’s decision. I want Senator Specter to respond. Why do you think Senator Lieberman, Senator Specter, is wrong?
SPECTER: I believe in the maxim, hold your friends close and your enemies closer. President Ronald Reagan declared the Soviet Union to be the evil empire, and immediately thereafter undertook negotiations with them. Look, Assad is not a boy scout, but we have to deal with him. he’s there. In my conversation with him, I think there are ways to get him to stop arming Hezbollah and to stop arming Hamas. They came on the brink of a solution to the Golan Heights in 1995 and again in the year 2000. That was done by active negotiation that President Clinton engaged in. So there are ways to move through it, and to isolate them has not been successful.