[ Saturday, March 05, 2005 ]
Congressman Says Syria Nuke Comment a Joke
DALLAS - A congressman who raised eyebrows with recent remarks about personally wanting to drop a nuclear bomb on Syria now says he was joking.
The Feb. 19 remarks by Rep. Sam Johnson (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, at a church pancake breakfast were first reported this week in Roll Call. The Capitol Hill newspaper reported it had heard a recording of the talk made by someone in attendance.
According to Roll Call, Johnson said he was talking with President Bush (news - web sites) and GOP Rep. Kay Granger (news, bio, voting record) at the White House about weapons of mass destruction that troops failed to find in Iraq (news - web sites).
According to Roll Call, Johnson said he told the president: "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore."
Johnson, 74, is a former Air Force combat pilot who served in Korea and Vietnam, where he was shot down and spent 7 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.
Johnson did not respond to a request for comment by The Associated Press on Friday. However, he told The Dallas Morning News that he was surprised anyone took his comments seriously and has never advocated a nuclear strike on Syria.
"I was kind of joking — you know, we were talking between veterans," he said. He added that President Bush knew he was joking.
art [3:38 PM]