Wilson: Consult Congress before taking action in Syria

2013-08-30T01:00:00Z 2014-11-04T21:40:10Z Wilson: Consult Congress before taking action in SyriaBy GENE ZALESKI T&D Staff Writer The Times and Democrat
August 30, 2013 1:00 am  • 

NORTH — Second District Congressman Joe Wilson says President Barack Obama and his administration have already “made mistakes” handling Syria and other crises in the Middle East.

“We should have assisted the truly democratic forces of Syria early on, particularly the young people of the country who want change,” Wilson said. “But now the delay by the administration, the confusion by the administration has allowed al-Qaeda and its associates to become the predominate anti-Assad forces.”

The Republican lawmaker made the comments after a brief tour of North Auxiliary Airfield Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. and other Western governments have cited the need for military intervention in response to evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces used banned chemical weapons on their own people last week, killing hundreds of men, women and children.

Wilson said any U.S. military action in Syria should require congressional approval.

“I was one of the very first 20 members of Congress to send a letter to the president urging that Congress be called back to participate in whatever decision is made,” he said. The U.S. Constitution “requires for military action that Congress have a role. Additionally, I think the American people need, through their elected representatives, to fully understand the consequences of any action in Syria.”

But Wilson said the current crisis could have been avoided if the Obama administration had done its job.

“It is sad to me that this administration has failed to understand that when these jihadists carry signs that say ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ in English, that is what they mean,” the congressman said.

Iranian lawmakers and commanders have issued warnings to the United States and its allies this week that any military strike on Syria would lead to a retaliatory attack on Israel.

Wilson said Obama had a chance during the 2009-2010 Iranian elections to do something to help improve the situation in Iran.

“We should have encouraged the Green Revolution in Iran in the first place,” he said. “The young people wanted to overturn that government, but this administration stood back.”

Not only has Obama done nothing to ease the tensions, he has fueled them, Wilson said.

“Sadly, this administration, I believe, has done wrong in encouraging and condoning the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “This is an extremist organization. They have ties to the Hezbollah, and we know whether it be Hezbollah or Hamas, this puts the American people and our ally Israel at risk.”

The Obama administration has denied its support of the Muslim Brotherhood several times, denouncing the violence in Egypt.

Wilson’s visit to North was the last stop on his four-day annual tour of the Second Congressional District. He typically tours the district and meets with his constituents.

Wilson met with North Mayor Earl Jeffcoat and North Airfield tower controller Walter Morgan Thursday.

Morgan explained the operations of the airbase to the congressman.

“They come out here with night vision goggles,” Morgan said, noting training is conducted primarily at night with minimal light guidance.

“The airplane can come in here and weigh half a million pounds and stop on 3,500 feet, which is just pretty incredible,” he said.

Morgan said a number of airplanes fly into the airfield and land on its 10,000-foot runway.

“You can land pretty much anything you want out there,” he said. “We have landed C-5’s out there.”

The North airbase has had as many as 43,000 movements a year, which include approaches and departures.

Wilson expressed his surprise at the amount of traffic at the airfield.

The Tuskegee Airmen and Doolittle Raiders both trained at the North facility, Morgan noted.

* Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551.

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