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Local News

September 9, 2013

Tierney wary of Syria strike

SALEM — U.S. Rep. John Tierney has not said yet how he will vote on a proposed military strike in Syria, but his constituents, he said, have spoken loudly and clearly against it.

Calls to his office are running “overwhelmingly against going in,” Tierney said in an interview Friday.

The Salem Democrat, whose 6th Massachusetts congressional district includes Newburyport and surrounding communities, still hasn’t decided how to vote on President Obama’s call for limited strikes to punish the Syrian government for its alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.

But Tierney is also questioning whether an attack by the United States alone would be a good idea, and he called for more information to be released by the president.

“Obviously, I do not think the administration has made its case,” Tierney said.

Tierney said that, by last week, his office had fielded 900 calls against a military strike, a handful who want more information and just 20 or so who are in favor of U.S. attacks.

“I’m trying to keep an open mind as we go through this,” Tierney said.

By some reports, the attack with chemical weapons outside Damascus on Aug. 21 killed 1,400 people, including many women and children. The Obama Administration has said the regime of President Bashar Assad is to blame. The Syrian government blamed the rebels.

Last Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted in favor of a strike against Syria, and Tierney said several resolutions have been introduced in the House. Tierney expects a vote in the House sometime this week, and said he plans to attend another briefing today.

Tierney is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on National Security of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, but said it is unlikely this committee will debate Syria.

Tierney said that, while he has attended briefings, he has not heard anything there that has not been shared already with the American public.

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