"Breaking: Republican Congressman Darrell Issa Currently In Syria For Talks"
The AP reports that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) met with Syrian President Bashar Assad today in Damascus. And according to the article, Issa criticized the administration while on the visit:
Commenting on Bush’s criticism, California Republican Darrell Issa said the president had failed to promote the necessary dialogue to resolve disagreements between the U.S. and Syria.
“That’s an important message to realize: We have tensions, but we have two functioning embassies,” Issa told reporters after separate meetings with Assad and his foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem.
ThinkProgress contacted Issa’s press office for comment. A spokesman signaled Issa may defend the trip by claiming it was Pelosi — not him — who “broke the embargo” of meeting with Syrian officials.
UPDATE: More Issa criticism of the administration’s failed approach:
“President Bush, is the head of state, but he hasn’t encouraged dialogue. That’s an important message to realize: we have tensions, but we have two functioning embassies.”
UPDATE II: Issa is heading a 3-person delegation.
UPDATE III: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) explains that it’s okay for Republicans to visit Syria, just not Pelosi:
Boehner declined to criticize [fellow Republican Rep. David Hobson] for joining Pelosi, saying her stature gave the visit an imprimatur it didn’t deserve.
“It’s one thing for other members to go,” Boehner said, “but you have to ask yourself, ‘Why is Pelosi going?’ She’s going for one reason and that is to embarrass the president. She is the speaker of the House. She’s giving (the Syrian) government more credit than they deserve. They sponsor terrorism. They have not been at all helpful. I wish she wasn’t there.”
Hobson defended Pelosi, saying she “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.”
UPDATE IV: Greg Sargent notes that Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) also rapped Bush over Syria.
UPDATE V: Asked about the Issa trip, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe says, “I think the administration’s position on members of Congress, Democrat or Republican, is very clear: We do not think it’s productive; we do not think it is useful; we do not think it is helpful.”