Congressman says he was "joking" with nuke-Syria suggestion
Associated Press | March 5, 2005
DALLAS -A Dallas-area congressman raised eyebrows with his recent offer to personally drop a couple of nuclear bombs on Syria.
But Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, told The Dallas Morning News for a story in Friday's editions that he was "kind of joking" in his comments at a pancake breakfast at a North Texas church.
The Feb. 19 remarks at the Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen were first reported this week in Roll Call. The Capitol Hill newspaper reported it had heard a recording of the talk made by an unidentified person in attendance.
According to Roll Call, Johnson said he was talking with President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger, a Fort Worth Republican, at the White House about weapons of mass destruction that U.S. troops had failed to find in Iraq.
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 the wars 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 that anyone took his comments seriously and has never advocated a nuclear strike at Syria.
"I was kind of joking - you know, we were talking between veterans," he said. He added that President Bush knew he was joking.