Bashar al-Assad's Friend in the Senate

Jay Solomon, in The Wall Street Journal, examines Sen. John Kerry's relationship with the murderer Bashar al-Assad. It's a thorough job, and it's not pretty:

Mr. Kerry... became Mr. Assad's champion in the U.S., urging lawmakers and policymakers to embrace the Syrian leader as a partner in stabilizing the Mideast. At a dinner in Washington in late 2009, Mr. Kerry described how the Syrian leader bemoaned the growing conservatism in his country. Mr. Assad's London-born wife, Asma, had to wear a head-scarf when visiting Damascus's historic Umayyad mosque, while his mother hadn't decades earlier, Mr. Kerry recounted Syria's leader saying.

"He doesn't want to lead a religious-based country," Mr. Kerry told the audience.

Some at the dinner, though, were Lebanese-Americans, who knew Damascus funded such Islamist organizations as Hezbollah and Hamas. "Kerry's characterization of Assad seemed grossly exaggerated," said one attendee at the dinner. "But the senator promoted it unchecked."

Some in the U.S. government also doubted this rosy view of Mr. Assad. Damascus continued to stonewall investigators from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, which suspected Syria of a covert program to produce plutonium for nuclear bombs. Mr. Assad showed no signs of weakening his alliance with Tehran. And U.S. intelligence services were alarmed to view satellite photos in early 2010 showing Syrian military units transferring long-range Scud missile systems to Hezbollah, which the U.S. designates a terrorist organization.