An online petition to U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi is calling on the House minority leader to remove a Hawaii congresswoman from two committees in the House of Representatives.
The petition, posted on Change.org, says in part, “We, the residents of US Congressional District 2, State of Hawaii, represented by US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, are infuriated and deeply troubled by her recent imprudent and secret trip to Syria and her ‘chance’ meeting with Syrian dictator, Bashar Al-Assad.”
The petition calls Gabbard’s actions “reckless,” “irresponsible” and “selfish,” and argues that her behavior legitimizes Assad, described in the petition as “a war criminal and a murderer.”
On Tuesday, Gabbard, a Democrat, said she would personally repay the cost of her trip, which was funded by an Arab-American community group in Cleveland.
Gabbard said she accepted the “fact-finding” opportunity to learn what Syrians themselves think about the civil war, and to try to find peaceful solutions rather than having the U.S. support regime change.
Asked about the petition, Gabbard spokeswoman Erika Tsuji said, “We don’t have any comment.”
The petition’s sponsor, identified as Dorothy Aeto of Haleiwa, could not be reached for comment. As of Wednesday afternoon, 97 people had signed it.
“I contacted Tulsi’s office over one week ago inquiring for more information about this trip,” Teri Waros of Hoolehua, Molokai, wrote on the petition. “She has yet to reply. I believe someone needs to hold her accountable and I am a constituent.”
Reached by phone, Waros said, “I wrote her because I’d like to know more — who did she go with, who did she see? It’s important to me. My antennae has been up for this story, because it seems very odd to me.”
Ann Freed of Mililani wrote on the petition, “Her actions amount to treason. Support for human rights violators. Disgusting. NOT what veterans like me expect from our congressionals.”
Freed, who is active in the Democratic Party of Hawaii and is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, told Civil Beat, “I have been suspicious of Tulsi and her motives since the very beginning.”
Freed campaigned for one of Gabbard’s opponents in the 2010 race in the 2nd Congressional District, which first sent Gabbard to Congress.
“I do not believe Tulsi’s conversion to the liberal cause is genuine,” said Freed. “I think she is biding her time and is at some point going to walk away from us.”
Freed worries that Gabbard seems to side with Republican “hawks” in Congress.
“This latest thing just confirmed my many suspicions,” Freed said of the Syria trip. “She is just not to be trusted.”
Carolyn Golojuch, the wife of a retired Air Force officer, said she signed the petition because of what Gabbard risked by going to Syria.
“I am appalled that she would put herself in a country in danger,” she said. “You do not go to these countries haphazardly. I don’t care if Dennis Kucinich invites you or not.”
Golojuch, who is also active in the Democratic Party, said Gabbard could have been threatened, attacked or kidnapped.
“Then you would have had an international incident, something our government is not prepared to handle at this time,” she said. “It was very unprofessional.”
The petition contains at least one error: Petitioners ask for Pelosi to remove Gabbard from the House Armed Services and the Foreign Relations committees. Gabbard is a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees — there is no Foreign Relations Committee.
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