Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, narrowly escaped harm earlier this week after being caught up in a military coup in the African country of Niger.
Grayson's press secretary, Todd Jurkowski, confirmed to CNN that Grayson was close to the action. "He heard the gunshots. They were literally in the building next door."
The outspoken congressman was in Niger as part of a congressional delegation focused on science, technology and humanitarian relief, according to Jurkowski. When the situation began to unravel, Grayson was taken to the residence of the United States Ambassador to Niger, where he was placed under armed protection.
On Thursday, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State P.J. Crowley told reporters the U.S. Embassy was monitoring the situation and confirmed Grayson was safe at the embassy. Later that night, a Niger military official announced the country's constitution has been suspended.
Grayson has since traveled to the neighboring country of Burkina Faso, and is scheduled to return to the United States Friday evening.
The comments at the end of the CNN story perfectly describe the different ways to see this.
An anonymous commenter said, "Why was Grayson running around on junkets when we all know that we need to control our spending. His job is to represent Florida, not Niger."
Brian from N.J. said, "This is one great American! And I just LOVE that all of you tea-bagging bigots hate him soooooooo much!!!! JUST PROVES HE'S DOING EVERYTHING RIGHT."
What's your opinion? I agree with Brian. Isn't it important for Congressmen to travel in order to better understand the issues? Is the expense of these "junkets" so great that we need to worry about it?
What do you think? Please leave a comment.