A Democratic Party congresswoman is under fire for saying she’s “skeptical” Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, is responsible for the chemical attacks made against civilians in northern Syria on Tuesday. In the attack, at least 86 people were killed, including 28 children. The Turkish Health Ministry reported on Thursday the nerve agent used in the attack was sarin.
In response to the chemical attack, President Donald Trump ordered the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against an airbase belonging to the Syrian government on Thursday. Trump claimed in a statement on the attack that there “can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the UN Security Council.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) criticized Trump in a statement issued on Thursday, in which she called the U.S. attacks “short-sighted” and “illegal” and alleged, “This Administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning.”
Gabbard, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq, also made multiple appearances on top cable news shows, where she continued to call Trump’s attack “illegal” and said she believes it’s “unconstitutional.”
On CNN’s “Situation Room,” hosted by Wolf Blitzer, Gabbard said in response to a question about intelligence showing Assad is to blame for the attack, “Last time I checked, Wolf, Congress had the authority and responsibility for declaring war, for authorizing the use of military force, so whether the president or the Pentagon or the secretary of state says that they have the evidence, the fact remains that they have not brought that evidence before Congress, they have not brought that evidence before the American people and they have not sought authorization from Congress to launch this military attack on another country.”
Gabbard later added, “So, yes, I’m skeptical, because we have to take at premium the cost of these wars, not only on the Syrian people and the people in the Middle East, but the cost of these wars here in the United States.”
Many on both sides of the political aisle immediately attacked Gabbard for her comments made on CNN and elsewhere.
Evan Siegfried wrote on Twitter, “Few months ago @TulsiGabbard hung out with Assad. Now she’s covering for his murdering his own people with chemical weapons.”
Few months ago @TulsiGabbard hung out with Assad. Now she's covering for his murdering his own people with chemical weapons pic.twitter.com/2NOy9aADbc
— Evan Siegfried (@evansiegfried) April 5, 2017
Josh Barro, a senior editor at Business Insider, wrote, “Will there be a primary in which voters can replace Tulsi Gabbard with some kind of normal Democrat?”
Will there be a primary in which voters can replace Tulsi Gabbard with some kind of normal Democrat?
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) April 7, 2017
Author Mark Harris wrote, “Ugh, Tulsi Gabbard. Good tip for the Democrats in the midterms: Let’s try to avoid electing lunatics.”
Ugh, Tulsi Gabbard. Good tip for the Democrats in the midterms: Let's try to avoid electing lunatics.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) April 8, 2017
Akbar Shahid Ahmed, the foreign affairs reporter for the Huffington Post, even suggested Gabbard could be guilty of “Islamophobia.”
“That Gabbard and her allies believe being ‘secular’ is enough to grant Assad legitimacy is even more important,” wrote Ahmed in an article for the Huffington Post. “The unspoken argument here is that alleged war crimes, mass torture and decades of repressive one-family rule are acceptable, so long as they don’t have a pesky Muslim tinge. The message is precisely what controversial Trump White House advisers like Sebastian Gorka believe: People in the Muslim-majority world do not become radical militants keen to target the West because of repression or deprivation. The problem lies in how ‘Muslim’ they are ― or how ‘secular.’ Activist Iyad el-Baghdadi calls Gabbard’s position a clear case of Islamophobia.”