Former Congressman Mistakes Americans for Soviets


According to this wire story, former Republican congressman Mark Deli Siljander, a conservative Christian who served Michigan's 4th congressional district from 1981-87, has been charged with conspiracy in an investigation of the Islamic American Relief Agency, a Missouri-based charity accused of laundering money to the Taliban and its allies. During his stint in the House, Siljander was a staunch cold warrior, offering support to the Contras, UNITA, and any group opposed to the ANC (i.e., the apartheid regime). Now, perhaps in an attempt to gin up Hollywood interest, he's trying out his Charlie Wilson routine. From the AP:

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.

The former Republican congressman from Michigan, Mark Deli Siljander, 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.

A 42-count indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., accuses the Islamic American Relief Agency of paying Siljander $50,000 for the lobbying—money that turned out to be stolen from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The congressman has a rather colorful history. In 1986, Siljander lost his bid for reelection, he speculated, after asking voters to "break the back of satan" by granting him another term in the House. He acknowledged contemporaneously that his apocalyptic outburst perhaps "should have been re-worded." During his time on the Hill, Siljander campaigned to have gay-themed books removed from public libraries (targeting books like The Lord is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay), introduced a bill to condemn Louis Farrakhan's "racism and anti-Semitism," and campaigned for the sale of F-16s to Israel. In 1985, the Washington Post reported on Siljander's visit to a Jewish Coalition fundraiser, during which he determined that Jews are capitalists just like regular old Christians:

Michigan conservative Rep. Mark Deli Siljander is not Jewish but he was at one Jewish Coalition reception—and not by accident. He is a member of the Conservative Opportunity Society, pushing a modified 10 percent flat tax. "Some in the Jewish community are starting to see us Republicans as younger, less isolated, interested in global perspectives. Jews are professionals—they feel they are paying too many taxes. They believe in the free enterprise system. "Just," said the Republican congressman, "like us."

NEXT: Porkbusters of the World, Unite and Take Over

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. One of the alleged recipients was Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. A lot of US$ went to Hekmatyar in the 1980s via Pakistan’s ISI.

    Hek is one nasty sumbitch (I read an outrageous column by Eric Margolis defending him).

  2. Minor nit: Siljander represented Michigan’s Fourth district, not the First. During that period, the First district was represented by John Conyers, a rather different person.

  3. Interesting. Thanks Tom. I was poking around to see if there was a connection between the ISI operation and Siljander. Nothing I see so far. Odd, because he seems to have been involved in Contra/Unita/El Salvador funding stuff…That said, the Afghan operation, though everyone was aware of it, was less public.

  4. Thanks other Tom. I’ll fix it.

  5. Mark Deli Siljander

    His name makes me mighty uncomfortable. He needs to add a T and drop a few extraneous letters.

  6. Some in the Jewish community are starting to see us Republicans as younger, less isolated, interested in global perspectives.

    I think the word is “cosmopolitan”, Congressman…

  7. Why don’t we wait to make sure this isn’t another anti-Muslim witch hunt on the part of the Bush DOJ.

    As far as they are concerned, being connected with any Islamic charity, activist group, think tank, etc., makes you a terrorist, and anyone who sits next to you on a bus has abetted terrorism. This congressman sounds like a big a-hole, but I will disregard virtually any prosecution of this kind as just more DOJ garbage.

  8. Mark Deli Siljander

    His name makes me mighty uncomfortable. He needs to add a T and drop a few extraneous letters.

    “Mark Deli Sandwich”

  9. Uh, I’m pretty sure that the ANC (“African National Congress”) was against apartheid.

  10. Oops, duh, I misunderstood. The “i.e.” is saying that he was in favor of the apartheid regime. Sorry.

  11. “jet | January 16, 2008, 6:21pm | #
    Mark Deli Siljander

    His name makes me mighty uncomfortable. He needs to add a T and drop a few extraneous letters.

    “Mark Deli Sandwich””

    I’m sorry. It’s pronounced, “Throatwabbler Mangrove”.

    Rimfax – yes -anti communist.

  12. You know if this was a Democrat, Eric Dondero would have twenty-five comments posted by now.

  13. Former Congressman Mistakes Americans for Soviets

    It’s a common Republican mistake. A lot of them think that this is the sort of country where it’s OK to torture people, hold them without trial, and spy on citizens at whim.

  14. VM,

    I thought it was pronounced “Raymond Luxury Yacht.”

  15. Thoreau wins the thread.

    Frontline last night had a good synopsis of White House/DOJ mendacity on surveillance/FISA/torture but to see it revisited in encapsulated form refreshed my outrage at the audacity of these sumbitches.

    We should have a catchphrase for this, something along the lines of “Never Forget”.

  16. If a person cared about liberty, why would they be eager to mindlessly repeat smears about the most popular libertarian candidate in decades on the very day of the most crucial “king-making” primary in the United States? Yet that is exactly what a number of popular “libertarian” bloggers did that day. The Ron Paul Newsletters are voluminous and even a small fraction of them could not possibly be read in the very few hours that passed between the posting of the actual newsletters (the afternoon of the 8th) and the smear campaigners’ posts (also the afternoon of the 8th). All of these “hit and run” blog posts, except Kirchick’s original, must then be based on Kirchik’s piece rather than on actual reading and analysis of the newsletters. Clearly the purpose of these posts was not to initiate a thoughtful discussion of the newsletters, it was to spin libertarian voters on the most crucial election day short of the November general elections.

  17. When Wolf Blitzer was questioning him about his old newsletters on CNN last week, Dr. Paul said “Libertarians are incapable of being racists, because racism is a collectivist idea”. I don’t know that I agree with the first part of that statement, but Dr. Paul should be forgiven because he was being ambushed with a question and had only a few minutes to answer it. (A much better exposition of his views on racism can be found on his campaign website.)

    I think a libertarian can be a racist because I think anybody can be a racist. I don’t mean a hooded, cross-burning, night-riding racist; just someone for whom race is a factor, however minor, in his or her personal decision calculus. Most people naturally prefer the company of people who are like themselves in most ways. They might not require the exclusive company of others like themselves, but they also don’t want to associate exclusively with people who are very different.

    Thomas Schelling, a Nobel laureate in economics, once proposed a game. Get a roll of pennies, a roll of dimes and a large sheet of paper divided into one-inch squares. Distribute the coins one per square on the sheet of paper, leaving about a third of the spaces empty. Adopt a rule: assume each coin wants at least some proportion – say, a third – of its neighbors to be of the same kind. Now find a coin for which the rule is not satisfied – i.e. less than a third of its neighbors are of the same kind – and move it to a square where it is. Repeat this step until all coins are on squares that satisfy the rule. When you get to this point, you’ll find that the pennies have tended to cluster with other pennies, while the dimes are clustered with other dimes.

    Under the rule adopted, these coins were very open minded – each was willing to live where up to two-thirds of its neighbors were of another “race”. Nevertheless, the end result of this “invisible hand” process was that most ended up living where all of their neighbors were the same.

    The point of the game is to demonstrate how a pattern of racial segregation can result from the individual decisions of people whom hardly anyone would accuse of being racist. Which is one of the reasons the charge of “racism” is one that is almost impossible to defend against.

    A person accused of being a racist can usually clear his or her name with the accuser only by agreeing with the accuser. Last week on The Huffington Post Earl Ofari Hutchinson demanded that Ron Paul issue “a clear and direct public statement?that says I fully support all civil rights laws, will work hard against racial and gender profiling, and will push government economic support initiatives to boost minorities and the poor” as the price for being absolved of the charge of racism.

    In other words, the only way the libertarian Dr. Paul can prove he’s not a racist is to abandon libertarianism and adopt Hutchinson’s statist policy prescriptions. That’s like telling a Christian televangelist whose assistant had swindled viewers that repentance and restitution are not enough – he has to renounce Christianity if he wants to be forgiven.

    The significant point about libertarians and racism is not that a libertarian can’t be a racist; it’s that, in a true libertarian society, racism is irrelvant. A libertarian government would not have the authority to enact legislation that favors one racial or ethnic group at the expense of another because it would not have the authority to enact legislation that favors anybody at the expense of another.

    Nor would the government have the authority to enact legislation to correct the results of “invisible hand” processes like Schelling’s game. In fact, the mere attempt to do so would be not only racist, but futile as well.

    An example of the futility and racism inherent in using the police power of the state to correct racial discrimination – intended or otherwise – resulting from individual decisions are laws prohibiting racial discrimination in employment. Since the hiring decision is multidimensional, a racist manager could claim any number of reasons for rejecting an applicant of the “wrong” race. Hence the need for affirmative action if the law is to achieve its desired effect. But, since affirmative action requires basing the hiring decision on race, it is itself racist (and most probably in violation of the law it is meant to enforce).

    One of the silliest things a politician or pundit can say is that she/he opposes affirmative action, but supports laws prohibiting racial discrimination in employment. You can’t have one without the other. If you don’t believe it, consider this: age discrimination is against the law, too, yet it’s rampant in the workforce. Just ask any computer programmer over 40. The difference is, there’s no affirmative action based on age. Ron Paul is probably the only Presidential candidate in either party who understands this.

    There are, of course, people whose attitudes about race go far beyond just feeling more comfortable around people who are like themselves. But is that necessarily something to get alarmed about? As long as they’re not harming or threatening anyone else, why should we care? If they choose to act out their hatred by harming people of another race, then the government can act. Otherwise the government is trying to read minds.

    Racism and racist are words that, through overuse, have lost their sting. They are what you say when you have nothing else to say. Probably the best thing for all of us would be to banish them from the language. Certainly, they add nothing constructive to political discourse.

    The above post is from Phil Manger, a fellow blogger at

    I would just like to ask the oponents of Dr Paul two questions:
    1. given that libertarianism is a small minority, if you could defeat one and only one collectivist ideology, would it be racism or statism?
    2.What answer to question #1 would a real libertarian give?

  18. How can one not think of conspiracy theories having just observed an improbably simultaneous media attack on Ron Paul the day of the New Hampshire primary? A remarkably successful attack that made him plunge from 14% in the polls to an 8% actual vote? After weeks where we heard little about Paul from the mass media and beltway “libertarian” bloggers? TNR from the left, Fox News and talk radio from the right, and piling on from beltway “libertarians” who made a point of loudly repeating the TNR smears and dumping Ron Paul on the day of the primary. Your eyes and ears did not deceive you, all this happened. It is not the result of a criminal conspiracy, but if one uses “conspiracy” as a metaphor for social networks and economic incentives, there is a strong sense in which conspiracy theories accurately, if metaphorically, explain what happened.

    The reality behind the conspiratorial metaphor is the social networking between denizens of the Beltway, who sport a wide variety of political labels but are, relative to the rest of the country, a monoculture. I lived there. I went to these parties. These denizens range from the journalists who report the mass media news to various think tank and university scholars at the Cato Institute, George Mason University, and so on. They study Ayn Rand, then marry Andrea Mitchell and testify against tax cuts. Vast amounts of federal money, that stuff that is taken out of your paycheck with such automatic ease, flow into the Beltway area. Directly and indirectly, almost every person who lives in or near the Beltway depends on the very income tax that Ron Paul declared he would abolish – with no replacement!

    Many of these paycheck vampires call themselves “libertarians” and inspire us with their libertarian rhetoric to support them with our attention, our blog hits, and our tuition money as well as the tax money that already funds them or their friends. But at the first sign of political incorrectness, all these below-the-Beltway “libertarians” have dumped Ron Paul like yesterday’s garbage. Now they can rest easy that they will still be invited to the parties thrown by their lobbyist and government employee and contractor friends, who for a second or two got worried by all those Google searches that Ron Paul might have some influence, resulting in some of them losing their jobs (end the income tax with no replacement?! The guy is obvioiusly a kook, and we don’t invite the supporters of kooks to our parties!). Now everybody around the Beltway can go back to partying at the taxpayer’s expense. All the money will keep flowing in, hooray!

    The lesson millions of young libertarians have now learned from our mass media and our beltway “libertarians”? Libertarian electioneering is futile. Voting is futile. Democracy is futile. It’s hip to be “libertarian.” But anybody who actually wants liberty is a kook, as can be proven by their association with kooks. Beltway wonks posing as “libertarians” are happy to write things to inflame your hopes for liberty that they don’t really mean. Then they make sure that we elect the politicians their friends want – the ones that will enslave your future to pay for full social security for Baby Boomers. The ones that will send you off to foreign lands to kill and die. Not only the journalists who hang out with the government bureaucrats and lobbyists, and not only the politicians who talk sweet while they drain your paycheck and kill your fellow human beings, but even the beltway “libertarians” are happy to let a whole new generation of libertarians go down the tubes in order to keep their Beltway friends happy.

  19. by Billy Joe
    Ol’ tailgunner Joe ain’t got nothin’ on these guys. Joe McCarthy saw communists everywhere. At the height of the red scare, the mere suspicion that you might have read Das Kapital in college or went to a Woody Guthrie concert was enough to end a career. The reign of terror didn’t end until after Aurthur Miller’s brilliant play THE CRUCIBLE exposed McCarthyism for what it was: a witchhunt.

    Racists are the new witches. Yes, they exist, but their beliefs are as laughable as wiccan paganism and even less influential. Irrational fear of witchcraft, communism, racism, or radical Islam is often far more dangerous than the original threat. Overreaction leads to seeking solutions without regard to the cost of those solutions. A good strategist would calculate the relative threat of hostile ideologies to take appropriate action. An evil activist will exploit a prevailing fear for political gain, fully knowing the fear has little or no merit.

    Dr. Paul is appearantly a witchdoctor, according to the pro-establishment tools that keep slandering smearing, and libeling him. This man, who’s closest friend was a Jew, Murray N. Rothbard (one of the founders of the libertarian movement) is supposed to be an anti-semite. His intellectual hero was Ludwig Von Mises, a Jewish economist. One racist appearantly sent him a campaign contribution, which is enough to overshadow his massive minority support. Ilana Mercer, a self-described Zionist Jew blogger from has officially endorsed him. African American Matt Sistrunck is the group organizer of the El Paso Ron Paul meetup group (the one I am a member of) . According to the witch hunters, these people and myself are just pawns in the evil doctor’s diabolical plan to revive the Third Reich or something.

    Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket. Dr. Ron Paul’s thirty year war against racism and all other forms of collectivism is an elaborate ruse to fool us into voting for him in this election so he can then reverse his ten term voting record and revive National Socialsm from the graveyard of stupid ideologies. He delivers hundreds of black and mexican babies (sometimes for free), but this is just to throw us off the scent. Sure, sure. I must be playing MiniMe to this new Doctor Evil. How stupid of me.

  20. It’s a common Republican mistake. A lot of them think that this is the sort of country where it’s OK to torture people, hold them without trial, and spy on citizens at whim.

    Thoreau, thats awesome.

    Joe Allen, just give it up already.

  21. Wow, no disrespect, but I just wasted ten minutes reading circular arguments.

    They take who they want.

  22. oooh! DoktorT!

    Now, this is just a rumor… but I heard that he mistook Larry Craig for a ladies’ man, too!

    ah, thank you ProGLib!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.