DALLAS, March 4 -- A congressman who raised eyebrows with recent remarks about
personally wanting to drop a nuclear bomb on Syria says he was joking.
The Feb. 19 remarks by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.), at a church pancake breakfast
were first reported this week in Roll Call. The Capitol Hill newspaper reported
it had heard a recording of the talk made by someone in attendance.
According to Roll Call, Johnson said he was talking with President Bush and
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.) at the White House about weapons of mass destruction
that troops 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 Korea and Vietnam,
where he was shot down and spent about seven years as a prisoner of war.
Johnson did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. But he told the
Dallas Morning News that he was surprised anyone took his comments seriously
and has never advocated a nuclear strike on Syria.
"I was kind of joking -- you know, we were talking between veterans,"
he said. He added that Bush knew he was joking.