Hillary Clinton and Congress:
"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer." (CBS News: "Face the Nation", March 27.)
Even when Bashar was persona non grata in Washington during the George W. Bush administration, at least a dozen members of Congress found time to meet with the Syrian president as part of "fact-finding missions" to the Middle East. Most prominent among them was Nancy Pelosi, who arranged a trip to Damascus in April 2007, less than five months after a landslide midterm election made her speaker of the House of Representatives. At the time, Pelosi was the highest-ranking official to meet with Bashar following Bush's 2003 decision to isolate the Syrian regime. "We come in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is the road to peace," she said upon arriving there. Pelosi's trip angered Bush administration officials, who claimed she was undermining U.S. policy in negotiating with a "state sponsor of terror," but the congresswoman -- together with colleagues ranging from Dennis Kucinich to Dick Lugar -- insisted that Bashar was ready to play a constructive role in the region.
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