Friday, January 18, 2008

Siljander Not News for Cable News

I can't say that it was not covered at all, but I can say that CNN didn't see fit to make headlines of a rather stunning story about a Christianist Rightwing Republican congressman's indictment for activities in support of an Al Qaeda enthusiast in Afghanistan.

Two days ago, Truthout and other online forums reported the news (covered by Associated Press) that a former 3-term Republican congressman has been indicted for money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice in connection with funding a terrorist Afghani Taliban warlord. The story has not--that I've seen--made CNN or MSNBC, and was buried in the tiny print in the Washington Post.

From the New York Times:

A former Republican congressman from Michigan was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of money laundering and obstruction of justice. The charges involve his work as a lobbyist for an Islamic charity accused of illegally funneling about $130,000 to an Afghan warlord labeled a terrorist by the United States government.
From the LA Times:
Siljander, a former salesman of prefabricated homes and state legislator, won a special election in 1981 to fill the House seat vacated by David A. Stockman, who had been named budget director in the new Reagan administration.

Siljander, a favorite of religious conservatives, declared war on abortion, pornography, the Equal Rights Amendment and school busing.

But he lost his 1986 reelection bid after urging clergy members to support him in order to "break the back of Satan."

He later was appointed a public delegate to the United Nations by President Reagan.

Since leaving Congress, published reports indicate, Siljander has represented a variety of interests, including officials from the governments of Liberia and Sudan.
From the Washington Post:

The indictment alleged that IARA and its former executive director, Mubarak Hamed, engaged in prohibited financial transactions for the benefit of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan mujahideen leader designated by the U.S. government in 2002 as a terrorist.

Hekmatyar, a former warlord who fought against the Soviet Union and later served as Afghanistan's prime minister in the 1990s, supported terrorist acts by al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and "vowed to engage in a holy war against the United States and international troops in Afghanistan," the government said.

Siljander served in the U.S. House of Representatives from April 1981 to January 3, 1987. He is an owner and director of Global Strategies, Inc., a marketing and public relations company in Washington.

Prosecutors said none of the defendants are charged with providing material support for terrorism, Instead, they are accused of engaging in financial transactions that benefited property controlled by a designated terrorist.

Islamic charities in the United States complain they have been unfairly scrutinized since the September 11 attacks.

It's probably just me, but if I were news editor at CNN, I'd have given this story more play than the murder of a pregnant Marine in North Carolina. And I'd have done so if Siljander were not a Republican.

I'm thinkin' you would, too.