By John T. Bennett - 06/04/11 09:16 PM EDT
The Obama administration condemned the Syrian regime for allegedly shutting down Internet and other communication networks amid continuing calls for political reforms.
“We are deeply concerned by reports that Internet service has been shut down across much of Syria, as have some mobile communication networks,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday. “We condemn any effort to suppress the Syrian people’s exercise of their rights to free expression, assembly, and association.”
Clinton also pointed to the White House’s “International Strategy for Cyberspace,” which was made public two weeks ago.
“States should not arbitrarily deprive or disrupt individuals’ access to the Internet or other networked technologies,” Clinton said, citing the cyber plan.
“We condemn such shutdowns in the strongest terms,” the secretary of State said.
Some senior Republican lawmakers have panned President Obama and his administration for getting involved in Libya but doing much less to aid Syrian opposition elements.
“Syria represents the latest opportunity for the United States to support a peoples’ aspirations for more freedom and to condemn repression by an entrenched regime,” Sen. John Kyl (Ariz.), the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, said in an April statement. “Yet the President has said little.”
The President should personally stand up and publicly condemn the attacks by the Assad regime on the Syrian people,” Kyl said.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination has criticized Obama for being “remarkably silent” on the situation in Syria, while getting “very, very active in other settings,” like Libya.
Since those comments, the Obama administration has slapped sanctions on Assad’s government designed to place pressure on it to change or step aside.
While the president and other administration officials have stopped shy of saying Assad must go, they have said the Middle Eastern nation cannot look in the future as it has under Assad.