Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ex-Congressman charged with supporting Al Qaeda

Didn't see this one coming.

A former congressman and delegate to the United Nations was indicted Wednesday as part of a terrorist fundraising ring that allegedly sent more than $130,000 to an al-Qaida and Taliban supporter who has threatened U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan.

Mark Deli Siljander, a Michigan Republican when he was in the House, was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstructing justice for allegedly lying about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.

Without trying to assess the strength of the charges -- there's not enough information to do that -- let me just point out a couple of thoughts:

Thank goodness it was a Republican. Can you imagine all the apoplectic aneurysms among right-wing bloggers if it had been a Democrat? With Siljander, they'll of course explain that he's just one guy, doesn't represent all Republicans and was probably a RINO anyway. Had it been a Democrat, on the other hand, he would have been a representative poster child for the Democratic Party, damning evidence of the corruption and disloyalty inherent in the Democratic character, and something that all current Democratic officeholders must answer for. Ain't blind partisanship fun?

The charges aren't all that explosive. He's essentially accused of lobbying on behalf of a charity, a charity that we declared a terrorist supporter because some of its money ended up in the hands of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Hekmatyar's a bad guy now -- a declared supporter of Osama bin Laden -- but his is a common story in the region: we were a big supporter of his when he was fighting the Soviets, walked away when the Soviets left, and then found ourselves fighting against him when we invaded Afghanistan. Sending him cash may well constitute "terrorist support", but it's not a simple thing. And Siljander's guilt will rest largely on how much he knew about the charity's activities.

The most damning charges address how his lobbying was funded: it claims he conspired with the charity to illegally use money donated by USAID. He also denied doing any lobbying for the group. If true, that's enough to sink him for corruption, and cast doubt on on his truthfulness, which in turn would suggest greater involvement and culpability for money reaching Hekmatyar.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post notes that the problem might be Siljander's district, inasmuch as his predecessor was also a Republican, and is also in hot water:

It was a shocker when David A. Stockman, the one-time congressman from the Sixth (actually the 4th back then, before redistricting) who went on to become President Reagan's White House budget director in the early 1980s, was indicted last year on charges of conspiracy and securities fraud involving a Michigan auto parts company.

Now we learn that Stockman's successor in Congress, Mark Deli Siljander, was indicted today for his role in an alleged terrorist fundraising ring.

Such an observation requires taking two data points and calling it a trend, while ignoring that the current officeholder, Fred Upton, is also a Republican and has served since 1986. But it's still interesting.

All in all, more evidence that claiming one party is inherently more patriotic, loyal or honest than the other is dumb.

Hall of Shame updated.

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Anonymous caracarn said...

Oh my gosh, he was a UN delegate and he has a weird last name! It's no surprise that he's in league with the terrorists. Send him to Gitmo. We'll get him to confess to anything we write down...I mean, anything he has done...using our "enhanced interrogation techniques."

1/18/2008 8:06 AM  

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