U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch will never forget the day that he won the Democratic nomination in the special election to replace Congressman Joe Moakley, who had died a few months earlier. Lynch woke up early and was greeting voters in Milton when an alarming bit of news broke. By the time he reached his next campaign stop, Lynch realized he would have to abandon his meticulously planned primary day schedule; it was no longer a day for politicking. The date was September 11, 2011.
Lynch recalled that day and discussed its lingering influence during the seventh LIVE Political Happy Hour, presented by Suffolk University in partnership with the Boston Globe, which took place on Jan. 14 at Suffolk’s Modern Theatre.
Bid to declassify 9/11 information
Fourteen years later, the events of 9/11 remain very much a part of Lynch’s work in Congress. Lynch has unsuccessfully lobbied both the Bush and Obama administrations to declassify a section of the 9/11 commission report that names specific entities and individuals who were responsible for financing the hijackers prior to the attacks. Lynch told Globe reporter Joshua Miller, who conducted the interview, that publishing the 28-page section would bring closure to victims’ families and improve Congress’ decision making on national security issues.
“I think it’d also be good to inform our national security policy going forward—to demonstrate to members of Congress and others in our government that this happened, this is how this went down,” he said. “It would cause us to be more judicious, more thorough, more thoughtful and more vigilant in our own defense.”
Lynch then discussed U.S. intervention in the Middle East in the wake of 9/11, reiterating his opposition to putting boots on the ground in war-ravaged Syria and noting one of the lessons of the last decade of U.S. foreign policy.
“You don’t export democracy through the Defense Department,” he said.
Close encounter on the campaign trail
Lynch also shared fond election memories, including one from his 1996 campaign for the seat of retiring Senate President William Bulger, a race in which Lynch squared off against Bulger’s son, who counted current Boston Mayor Marty Walsh among his supporters. Campaigning during a snowstorm in Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood, Lynch knocked on door of a woman with a slight Irish brogue who invited him inside to warm up. He and the woman were chatting and drinking cocoa when they were interrupted.
“All of the sudden the door opens and it’s Marty Walsh, and he looks at the woman and he says, ‘Ma!’” Lynch recounted, drawing loud laughs from the crowd. “It was Mary Walsh!”
Lynch also weighed in on the upcoming presidential election. He expressed dismay at Republican Donald Trump’s proposals to ban Muslims from entering the country and “round up” and deport millions of undocumented immigrants and explained his support for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary’s the real deal,” Lynch said, recalling a sticky situation during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state when a CIA officer was arrested in Pakistan for shooting and killing two men.
“Hillary Clinton went in there and very deftly and very courageously negotiated his release,” said Lynch. “I’ve seen her in action. She’s tough. She’s smart. She’s not going to be making it up as she goes along.”