Thursday, September 05, 2002

The OC Weekly has the Dana Rohrabacher story. But shhh, don't read it too loudly or the rest of the media might hear it!

In fact, Rohrabacher’s post-Sept. 11 finger-pointing was a fraud designed to distract attention from his own ongoing meddling in the foreign-policy nightmare. Federal documents reviewed by the Weekly show that Rohrabacher maintained a cordial, behind-the-scenes relationship with Osama bin Laden’s associates in the Middle East—even while he mouthed his most severe anti-Taliban comments at public forums across the U.S. There’s worse: despite the federal Logan Act ban on unauthorized individual attempts to conduct American foreign policy, the congressman dangerously acted as a self-appointed secretary of state, constructing what foreign-affairs experts call a "dual tract" policy with the Taliban.


A veteran U.S. foreign-policy expert told the Weekly, "If Dana’s right-wing fans knew the truth about his actual, working relationship with the Taliban and its representatives in the Middle East and in the United States, they wouldn’t be so happy."

Nowadays, Rohrabacher and his numerous aides are quick to provide copies of the congressman’s pre-Sept. 11 rants against the Taliban. They will tell you that he labeled them "a pack of dogs killing anyone" and "the most anti-Western, anti-female, anti-human rights regime in the world." They will also show you records of the congressman berating Clinton administration
oreign-policy advisors for misreading Taliban intentions and for trying to negotiate peace in Afghanistan with the militant Islamic group’s Mullah Mohammed Omar, a bin Laden associate.

What they won’t mention is that Rohrabacher also once lobbied shamelessly for the Taliban. A November/December 1996 article in Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reported, "The potential rise of power of the Taliban does not alarm Rohrabacher" because the congressman believes the "Taliban could provide stability in an area where chaos was creating a real threat to the U.S." Later in the article, Rohrabacher claimed that:

•Taliban leaders are "not terrorists or revolutionaries."

•Media reports documenting the Taliban’s harsh, radical beliefs were "nonsense."

•The Taliban would develop a "disciplined, moral society" that did not harbor terrorists.

•The Taliban posed no threat to the U.S.

Although he continues to describe himself as an expert on Afghan history and politics, Rohrabacher was obviously dead wrong on all counts.

Evidence of Rohrabacher’s attempts to conduct his own foreign policy became public on April 10, 2001, not in the U.S., but in the Middle East. On that day, ignoring his own lack of official authority, Rohrabacher opened negotiations with the Taliban at the Sheraton Hotel in Doha, Qatar, ostensibly for a "Free Markets and Democracy" conference. There, Rohrabacher secretly met with Taliban Foreign Minister Mullah Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, an advisor to Mullah Omar. Diplomatic sources claim Muttawakil sought the congressman’s assistance in increasing U.S. aid—already more than $100 million annually—to Afghanistan and indicated that the Taliban would not hand over bin Laden, wanted by the Clinton administration for the fatal bombings of two American embassies in Africa and the USS Cole. For his part, Rohrabacher handed Muttawakil his unsolicited plans for war-torn Afghanistan. "We examined a peace plan," he laconically told reporters in Qatar.

To this day, the congressman has refused to divulge the contents of his plan. However, several diplomatic sources say it’s likely he asked the extremists to let former Afghan King Zahir Shah return as the figurehead of a new coalition government. In numerous speeches before and after Sept. 11, Rohrabacher has claimed the move would help stabilize Afghanistan for an important purpose: the construction of an oil pipeline there. In return, the plan would reportedly have allowed the Taliban to maintain power until "free" elections could be called.

Just go read the whole thing.