Sunday, June 05, 2005

Right-Wing Congressman’s Shocking Embrace of Extremists
Right-Wing Congressman’s Shocking Embrace of Extremists

Yasith Chhun counts among his friends Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA), and the warm feelings are mutual. According to yesterday’s L.A. Times, Rohrabacher says he’s “a supporter of Chhun and his allies.”

Just one problem: Yasith Chhun has “often boasted to newspapers and magazines about masterminding an attack on government buildings in Cambodia,” and has now been indicted by a U.S. grand jury for “attempting to kill the prime minister, attack government buildings and launch small-scale attacks on karaoke bars and fuel depots.” Chhun’s “allies” – a group called the Cambodian Freedom Fighters – are considered a terrorist organization by the State Department. Just last year, after the group made a failed coup attempt, Chhun plainly admitted to the New York Times that “he planned more violence. ‘We won’t stop. We’ll have more plans in the future. … Next time we will attack the whole country.’”

And, to be clear, Rohrbacher says he supports Chhun despite being “aware of the State Department’s concerns.”

Even more frightening, this apparently isn’t the first time Rohrbacher displayed a delusional willingness to place trust in avowed extremists. According to federal documents reviewed by the Orange County Weekly, Rohrabacher “lobbied shamelessly for the Taliban” throughout the 1990s, with a 1996 Washington newsletter pointing out his claims that the “Taliban could provide stability,” that its leaders were “not terrorists or revolutionaries,” and that it would develop a “disciplined, moral society” that did not harbor terrorists. Ignoring an explicit federal law banning unauthorized individual attempts to conduct American foreign policy, Rohrabacher in April of 2001 “opened negotiations with the Taliban at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha, Qatar,” meeting with Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, an advisor to Mullah Omar.

As Kevin Drum points out, Rohrbacher’s philosophy appears to be, “As long as they target people I don’t like, terrorist groups are OK with me.”