By Robert Mann
Sen. David Vitter, lagging in the polls and hoping to gain an advantage in his race for Louisiana governor, relentlessly attacked state Rep. John Bel Edwards all week over the issue of Syrian refugees.
“One of the Paris ISIS terrorists entered France posing as a Syrian refugee,” Vitter’s announcer says in a TV spot running statewide, which shows images of the aftermath of the bombings in Paris. “Now, Obama’s sending Syrian refugees to Louisiana.”
Vitter portrays himself as a prescient defender of national security, bragging in the spot, “David Vitter warned Obama [about] the danger of Syrian refugees weeks ago.” [Emphasis added]
As the announcer speaks those words, images of a letter appear on the screen.
The date of that letter, allegedly sent “weeks ago,” is not shown. It did not appear on Vitter’s U.S. Senate website, where he often posts statements and open letters to government officials.
On Friday afternoon, I contacted the U.S. State Department to ask about this letter (I would have contacted Vitter’s office, but his staff has long refused to respond to my calls and emails). Among other things, I wanted to know on what date the letter from Vitter was received.
Here is what the State Department spokesperson told me in an email late Friday:
“The State Department on Tuesday received the letter dated September 28 along with a separate November 17 letter. The Department appreciates the concerns expressed by Senator Vitter – as it does those concerns of his congressional colleagues – and we will respond directly.” [Emphasis added]
In other words, Vitter not only skipped two of the three U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearings since 2012 on the subject of Syria. According to the State Department, Vitter did not contact the Obama Administration about Syrian refugees until this week.
And, in doing so, it appears he may have created a backdated letter and sent it to the State Department, along with another letter. Vitter’s warning to Obama, “weeks ago,” appears to have been last Tuesday, four days after the Paris terrorist attacks.
Note: I have since found the “Sept. 28” letter on Vitter’s U.S. Senate website. It was posted on Tuesday at this link.