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Bachmann, King and Gohmert tour Egypt, Lebanon and Libya

Egyptian interim president Adly Mansour meeting with GOP Reps. Louie Gohmert (left), Steve King and Michele Bachmann (AFP Photo/ HO/Egyptian Presidency) Egyptian interim president Adly Mansour meeting with GOP Reps. Louie Gohmert (left), Steve King and Michele Bachmann (AFP Photo/ HO/Egyptian Presidency)

When members of Congress travel abroad on comfy military jets to excellent places — Rome, Paris and such — they naturally  try to keep the details under wraps. But when they travel to some not-so-pleasant,even dangerous,  places — such as Libya — they are usually much less reticent. (Although info usually becomes available after they leave such countries.)

Yet a trip this week by tea party Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann, Steve King and Louie Gohmert has been quite hush-hush, even though they went to iffy places like Beirut, Cairo and even to Tripoli — where the U.S. embassy last week issued a “warning”  notice “strongly advis(ing) against all but essential travel to Tripoli and against all travel . . outside  Tripoli because of ongoing instability and violence.”

And, as best we can figure, they even flew commercial, not only to the region but even within the region. They even went to embassy briefings and such. So this is hardly a boondoggle. Still, their offices declined to give out any information on the trip as it progressed.

Fortunately, local media and the BBC were on the spot,  so everyone in the Middle East knew just where they were.

In Lebanon, The Daily Star reported ambassador David Hale met them at the airport and they also met with the country’s justice minister, and faith-based non-governmental groups and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, whom we last wrote about when he was here in 2008, visiting with top Bush administration officials.

We noted then that  he was “a hard-line Lebanese Christian militia leader back in the nasty old days when those militias were slaughtering one another and assassinating rival leaders. Geagea had been linked in the media to a number of civil-war-era killings, including those of a pro-Syrian prime minister and a prominent Christian politician.”  But by 2008, he was a “statesman,” so now he’s a “leader.”

In Tripoli, the delegation was briefed at the embassy on the general situation in Libya and, of course, on Benghazi  and they met with a number of senior Libyan officials.

In Cairo, they met with military coup leader Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and and interim President Adly Mansour, according to the Daily News Egypt,  and talked about the regime’s “road map” to elections. The visit was a follow-up to the trio’s trip to Cairo in September, the paper noted , when they  met with Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II.

That was also when they did a most interesting video blasting the Muslim Brotherhood as a “great evil” and “terrorist group” – and where Bachman implied the group was responsible for 9/11.  — and praising the anti-Morsi demonstrations and the military intervention.

That video was harshly lampooned on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.



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Al Kamen · December 17, 2013

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