Pennacchio rips Lautenberg on foreign policy

Assemblyman Joe Pennacchio is trying out his foreign policy chops.

Pennacchio, who plans to seek the Republican nomination for US Senate, issued a press release today knocking Frank Lautenberg for blocking the nomination of the United States Ambassador to Libya.

“When politically convenient, Senator Lautenberg has criticized the Administration’s handling of the war on terror and homeland security. He now expresses his vocal opposition to a policy that will continue to open up dialogue and reward responsible behavior,” said Pennacchio.

The reinstatement of diplomatic ties is intended as a reward for Libya’s recent cooperation with the United States. Lautenberg, along with Bob Menendez and New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, has pledged to block President Bush’s nomination of Gene Kretz for the post until Libya pays its debts to the victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. If confirmed, Kretz would be the first ambassador the United States has sent to Libya since 1972.

“Libya must no longer be allowed to drag its feet and the U.S. must not pursue fully normalized diplomatic relations with Libya until they fulfill their legal obligations to American families,” said Lautenberg in a statement on Thursday.

But Pennacchio accused Lautenberg of blocking the nomination out of convenience, arguing that he did not condemn former Gov. Jim McGreevey for hiring his lover Golan Cipel as his Homeland Security Advisor or several other issues that he said were a misuse of homeland security funds.

“Selective political criticism by Senator Lautenberg has no place in public policy toward this war,” said Pennacchio.

Pennacchio rips Lautenberg on foreign policy