Mark D. Siljander

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Mark D. Siljander
Mark D. Siljander.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 4th district
In office
April 22, 1981 – January 5, 1987
Preceded by David A. Stockman
Succeeded by Fred Upton
Member of the Michigan House of Representatives
from the 42nd district
In office
1977–1981
Personal details
Born Mark Deli Siljander
(1951-06-11) June 11, 1951 (age 62)
Chicago
Cook County
Illinois
Political party Republican
Religion Christian

Mark Deli Siljander (born June 11, 1951) is a former Republican U.S. Representative and deputy United Nations ambassador from the state of Michigan. [1] He was convicted of obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent related to his work for an Islamic charity with ties to international terrorism. Siljander pleaded guilty to the charges in Federal court on July 7, 2010.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Siljander was born in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended the public schools, having graduated in 1969 from Oak Park and River Forest High School.[2] He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1972 and a Master of Arts from Western Michigan in 1973.[2] Siljander was awarded an honorary doctorate in humanities from Coral Ridge Baptist University, Jacksonville, Florida. He is widely traveled, and claims to have visited over 120 countries.[3]

He was also awarded a Ph.D. in international business[4] from George Wythe College, Cedar City, Utah (accreditation pending),[5] where he was listed as a faculty member.[4]

George Wythe College officials have since attempted to disclaim his doctoral degree:

Our investigation revealed that Siljander’s PhD in International Business was another illegitimate exception arranged by DeMille which never involved any coursework. Instead, Siljander’s file contains conclusive evidence that his degree was awarded for two improper sources of credit. First, Siljander was allowed to apply the same 56 hours of credit for which he had already been awarded his MA at Western Michigan University. Second, Siljander’s dissertation was comprised only of a post facto written description of his startup business venture that relied heavily upon his previous service as a congressman, combined with a marketing packet which the business utilized. For this he received 30 hours of life-experience credit. There is no record of Siljander enrolling in, attending, or receiving grades for any classes.

Of particular interest is a letter on file from Siljander in 1994 lamenting the difficulty he had been experiencing while trying to earn a living as a former congressman without adequate credentials. In this letter, Siljander expressly suggested that he and DeMille could arrive at a creative solution with regard to these previously used credits in conjunction with life-experience credit in order to be awarded a PhD. He concluded by pitching his capacity to benefit to the school in the future."[6]

He served as a trustee on Fabius Township Board in St. Joseph County, Michigan, from 1972–1976 and also worked as a real estate broker.[2]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

The Fourth Congressional district at that time was in southwestern Michigan and included Three Rivers and Kalamazoo.[7]

Although the 4th (and its successor, the 6th) has traditionally been a bastion of moderate Republicanism, Siljander was an outspoken social conservative. He criticized Reagan's Supreme Court appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor.[8] Time reported on Siljander's election:

"I'm part of the silent majority that was heard Nov. 4 [when President Reagan was elected]," says Siljander. "My support comes from morally concerned citizens who are sick of the situation in this country." Siljander pledges to battle the Equal Rights Amendment, pornography, abortion, school busing and "big spending." He will champion the neutron bomb, the MX missile and prayer in public schools.[9]

He described himself as "trained as an evangelical Christian; I was a poster boy for Jerry Falwell."[10]

1981

When incumbent Republican Party U.S. Congressman David A. Stockman from Michigan's 42 District resigned to become President Ronald Reagan's Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In the following special Republican primary, Siljander ranked first in a seven candidate field with a plurality of 37%.[11] He defeated Stockman-endorsed tax attorney John Globensky (36%) and State Senator John Mowat (22%).[12][13] In the April 1981 special general election, he defeated Democratic Cass County Commissioner Johnie Rodebush 69%-29%.[14][15][16]

1982

Siljander was challenged in the next Republican primary by attorney Harold Schuitmaker and defeated him 56%-44%.[17] In the general election, he won re-election to a full term with 60% of the vote.[18]

1984

He was challenged again in the Republican primary, and defeated Tim Horan 58%-42%.[19] In the general election, he won re-election to a second full term with 67% of the vote.[20]

In 1984, Siljander sponsored a single-sentence amendment which read, "For the purposes of this Act, the term 'person' shall include unborn children from the moment of conception." Alexander Cockburn referred to the Siljander Amendment as "the most far-reaching of all the measures dreamed up by the conservative right to undercut Roe v. Wade."[21] It failed 186-219.[22]

In 1985, Siljander proposed legislation which would deny Most Favored Nation status to countries that discriminate on cultural, ethnic or religious grounds.[23][24]

1986

Once again he was challenged in the Republican primary, this time by Fred Upton, a staffer to Stockman. Upton defeated Siljander 55%-45%, ending his political career.[25] Siljander's defeat was attributed to a controversial mailing he made during the party primary asking fundamentalists to "break the back of Satan" by praying and fasting for his re-election.[26]

Tenure[edit]

In 1986, Siljander signed a statement of outlining his religious beliefs.[27] Siljander takes an interest in conflict resolution, particularly in the Islamic world, and in recent years has tried to publicize the common ground between Christianity and Islam, particularly in the portrayal of Jesus in the Qur'an. Early in his career, Siljander heard a speaker read from the Qur'an at a prayer breakfast, unaware that this was not a reading from the Bible. When the truth was announced to his surprise, Siljander wrote a letter to the speaker, stating: "How can you read the book of the devil at a prayer breakfast?"[10]

Committee assignments[edit]

He served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and on its Middle East and Africa subcommittees.

Post-congressional career[edit]

Reagan administration[edit]

Siljander was appointed by President Reagan as an alternate representative to the United Nations General Assembly, serving from September 1987 to September 1988.[2]

1992 congressional election[edit]

He was an unsuccessful candidate in 1992 for nomination to the 103rd Congress from Virginia. He stated then his message was, "not religious values as much as it's common-sense American traditional values." He campaigned on a budget freeze, a ten percent flat tax and a line-item veto.[28] In the Republican primary, Siljander came in second to Henry N. Butler, a law professor at George Mason University.[29] Leslie L. Byrne won the general election.[2]

Private career[edit]

In 1994 Siljander joined the board of directors of Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian right legal fund.[30] In 1997, Siljander joined the lobbying firm Advantage Associates, which then employed 12 former members of Congress. Other members of the firm include firm president Bill Sarpalius, Bill Alexander, Ron Coleman, Bill Grant, Robert P. Hanrahan, Jerry Huckaby, Jerry M. Patterson, Howard Wallace Pollock, Richard Ray, Richard T. Schulze, and Bill Zeliff.[31] Siljander ended his ties with Advantage Associates prior to 2000.[32]

Now a resident of Great Falls, Virginia, Siljander is president of Global Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., operates an import-export firm, and works as a radio commentator.[2] He has written a book, A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide, listed as "For Sale: 10/7/2008" by HarperOne.[33] Siljander has met with leaders throughout the Islamic world.[34] Siljander has also regularly briefed both Congress and the White House on areas of Islamic extremism and counter-terrorism. Siljander currently consults for top US based security contractors on areas of terrorist threats and conflict resolution and has worked closely with UN Secretary General Ban Kai Moon to resolve the continuing humanitarian disaster in Darfur.[35] He founded the organization Trac5 with the stated goal to build a bridge between Islam and Christianity and which has close links to the evangelical Network The Fellowship[36]

In November 2006, Siljander gave a speech at Regent's Park College, Oxford, entitled "Overcoming the Muslim Western Divide: Seven Bridges to the Common Ground."[37][38] Siljander has studied Aramaic, Arabic and Hebrew languages.[39]

Siljander's book, A Deadly Misunderstanding is a 2009 Nautilus Silver Award Winner.[40]

2008 indictment[edit]

On January 16, 2008, Siljander was indicted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri on five counts including money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.[41][42] As part of the same investigation, several supporters of the Islamic American Relief Agency, a United Nations NGO (Non Governmental Organization)[43] were indicted for raising funds that were allegedly sent to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whom the United States has later designated as a global terrorist. Siljander alleged he never engaged in lobbying for this group. The indictment claims that the money, sent to bank accounts in Peshawar, Pakistan in 2003 and 2004, was masked as donations to an orphanage located in buildings that Hekmatyar owned.[44]

Those under indictment in related investigations face 42 counts on charges of money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice and material support of terrorism.[45][46][47]

Siljander himself faces only five counts, none of which are related to terrorism and are confined to money laundering, obstruction and conspiracy related to accusations of lobbying. Siljander alleges that his lobbying consisted of using USAID funds to subsidize the writing of his book[48] intended to provide strategies to undermine the influence of Islamic extremism.[49]

The indictments against IARA members other than Siljander are based on allegations of underlying crime stemming from a Ziyad Khaleel, who served as a regional manager for the charity in question as early as 1996 and is said to have purchased a satellite phone for Bin Laden. Even though Khaleel was believed to be associated with the charity according to the FBI and to have been a terrorist supporter, it took over four years for the US Government decide to blacklist the IARA and cut off U.S. government funding.[50][51]

"It's not clear whether Siljander ever engaged in the lobbying push," said John Wood, U.S. attorney in Kansas City.[52] Nevertheless, IARA paid Siljander with money that was part of U.S. government funding awarded to the charity years earlier for relief work it promised to perform in Africa, the indictment says.[52] Prosecutors initially alleged that Siljander was paid $50,000 by the Islamic American Relief Agency for acting as a lobbyist, money that was assigned by the U.S. Agency for International Development for other unnamed tasks. On January 28, 2008, Siljander appeared for a brief hearing in Kansas City, Missouri and pleaded not guilty in Federal court before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.[53]

USAID[edit]

However, the source of the allegedly misused funds, the USAID, a government agency tasked with promoting American values worldwide, indicates that none of their funds were misused: "According to the most recent USAID Office of Inspector General report, which covers October 2006 to the end of March 2007, "OIG oversight activities during this period did not identify any instances where terrorist organizations received USAID funds." USAID audit procedures should be enough to prevent terrorist financing."[54][55]

Further, the USAID indicates that there is no mechanism for effectively monitoring "blacklisted" groups: "USAID cannot confirm or deny whether an individual passed or failed screening." This secrecy was part of the focus of comments OMB Watch submitted to USAID, which stated, "PVS will more than likely result in the creation of a secret USAID blacklist of ineligible grant applicants, based on PVS results. Organizations and individuals erroneously listed as having ties with terrorism will have no way of knowing they are deemed as such, or why. Innocent and well deserving grantees will have no formal means of appealing such decisions."[54]

It has recently been admitted by the Bush Administration in conjunction with a variety of organizations that efforts to effectively screen groups from potential involvement in support of terrorism have been plagued with errors at every level. "The decision, announced Tuesday at a meeting of U.S. officials and representatives of nonprofit groups, was made after lawmakers and several large aid organizations said that the global screening requirements were onerous and unwarranted. An official of the U.S. Agency for International Development had earlier promised to defer the program, which initially was to have taken effect Monday."[56]

In an amended news release, Schlozman was made to correct errors in the initial press release which tried to tie Siljander to terrorist organizations.[57][58]

A report released in a Justice Department audit performed by Justice Department Inspector General Gerald Fine, on March 18, 2008, indicated that "the FBI and other agencies had, since 2003, proven incapable of managing watch lists or coordinating activities." The charity in question, the IARA, represented by lobbyist, former Congressman Hanrahan, and the primary subject of the series of indictments was one of the groups at the heart of this confusion and ambiguity.[50]

FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) wiretaps were used to support "domestic" charges against Siljander. A number of legal experts believe that the use of FISA intercepts in domestic cases may be outside the scope of the Act. As some charges against Siljander are unrelated to any foreign activity or any relationship to terrorism in any form yet are purportedly supported by FISA wiretaps, this case may provide a challenge to other FISA related cases.[59][60] Highly classified documents, accidentally released to defendants in an unrelated case, showed that the government targeted individuals in domestic wiretaps, an act clearly outside FISA authorization and generally recognized as unconstitutional.[61]

As early as 1989, the IARA and Khaleel, president of the Muslim Student Association, had been linked to terrorist groups but that information had never been acted on and funds from the US continued to flow to that group for 9 more years.[62]

On July 7, 2010, Siljander pled guilty to obstruction of justice and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.[63] On January 12, 2012, he was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.[64] Gordon Duff of Veterans Today set up a website for financial support of "our friend and brother Mark Siljander" and condemned "the injustice of both the charges and the resulting sentence". [65]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Siljander, Mark D. (October 2008). A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide. New York: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-143828-8. [40]
  • Belz, Emily. "Bad Connections". WORLD magazine. 14 August 2010. pp. 44–6.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Los Angeles Times. 2012-01-12 http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2012/01/-mark-deli-siljander-charity-terrorism-.html |url= missing title (help). 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Siljander, Mark Deli - Biographical Information". United States Congress. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  3. ^ "Founder's Message". Global Strategies, Inc. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  4. ^ a b George Wythe College: Siljander Bio (archived)
  5. ^ George Wythe College: Disclaimer (archived)
  6. ^ "Final Steps in the Administrative Transformation of George Wythe University," George Wythe University, October 12, 2012
  7. ^ Siljander indictment 'shocking' - Michigan News, Updates, Photos & Video | Detroit, Lansing - MLive.com
  8. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=P1pPAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NwMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4809,4506832&dq=mark+siljander&hl=en
  9. ^ "True Believer". Time. 1981-05-04. Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  10. ^ a b Ervin, Brian (2007-11-28). "Seeking Common Ground". Urban Tulsa Weekly. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  11. ^ "MI District 4 - Special R Primary Race - Mar 24, 1981". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  12. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=EnkiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-qwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2510,1983417&dq=mark+siljander&hl=en
  13. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=7WcaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=yCsEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2121,2264215&dq=mark+siljander&hl=en
  14. ^ "MI District 4- Special Election Race - Apr 21, 1981". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  15. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=nz1PAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mgIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3678,1915455&dq=mark+siljander&hl=en
  16. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=InkiAAAAIBAJ&sjid=-qwFAAAAIBAJ&pg=1199,4465399&dq=mark+siljander&hl=en
  17. ^ "MI District 4 - R Primary Race - Aug 10, 1982". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  18. ^ "MI District 4 Race - Nov 02, 1982". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  19. ^ "MI District 4 - R Primary Race - Aug 06, 1984". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  20. ^ "MI District 4 Race - Nov 06, 1984". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  21. ^ Cockburn, Alexander (2000-08-07). "Don't Waste Your Vote. (brief article)". The Nation. 
  22. ^ NCHLA
  23. ^ "Bill Summary & Status 99th Congress (1985 - 1986) H.R.2596 - All Information". THOMAS (Library Of Congress). Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  24. ^ Why Romania No Longer Deserves to Be a Most Favored Nation
  25. ^ "MI District 4 - R Primary Race - Aug 05, 1986". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  26. ^ "Frederick S. Upton (R) <img src="http://images.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/_common/images/R_medium.gif" width="30" height="22" border="0" align="absmiddle">
    Incumbent"
    . USA Today. 2004-04-16. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
     [dead link]
  27. ^ [1][dead link]
  28. ^ Baker, Peter (1992-03-22). "Former Michigan Representative Enters Race for N.Va.'s New Seat". The Washington Post. 
  29. ^ Hsu, Evelyn; Peter Baker (1992-06-10). "McSlarrow, Butler Win N.Va. Races; GOP Primaries Fill Congressional Slates". The Washington Post. 
  30. ^ Diamond, Sara (1994-05-01). "The religious right goes to court. (conservative Christian legal groups) (Watch on the Right)". American Humanist Association (The Humanist). Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  31. ^ (archived)
  32. ^ thehill.com: Lawmakers, colleagues react to Siljander’s indictment
  33. ^ HarperOne: Book publicity
  34. ^ "Seeking Common Ground - In light of recent state events, locals try to bridge the gap between two world faiths - News - City, State, County, Education - Urban Tulsa Weekly". Urbantulsa.com. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  35. ^ Farley, Maggie (2008-01-19). "Indicted ex-lawmaker as diplomat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  36. ^ Emily Belz: Sentenced WORLD MAGAZINE, January 11, 2012
  37. ^ [2][dead link]
  38. ^ Cogdill, Oline H (2009-01-17). "'Never Tell a Lie' by Hallie Ephron". Chicago Tribune. 
  39. ^ Edinburgh Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies - Special Lectures 2005 (archived)
  40. ^ a b 2009 NAUTILUS BOOK AWARDS SILVER WINNERS (archived)
  41. ^ "Former lawmaker charged in terrorism case". CNN. Associated Press. 2008-01-16. Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  42. ^ "Islamic charity charged with terrorist financing (press release)". US Attorney's Office Western District of Missouri. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  43. ^ http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un-other/unpan022661.pdf
  44. ^ Ex-Congressman Charged in Terror Case by Lara Jakes Jordan, Associated Press, Posted: 2008-01-16
  45. ^ 477 F.3d 728
  46. ^ Chicago Tribune http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/news_theswamp/files/ia_relief_decision |url= missing title (help). 
  47. ^ The Money Trail MSNBC Newsweek (Web Archive) Retrieved January 13, 2012
  48. ^ "(.com) » Overview". A Deadly Misunderstanding. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  49. ^ "Mark D. Siljander". A Deadly Misunderstanding. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  50. ^ a b Meyer, Josh (2008-03-18). "Audit faults FBI's role in watch list". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  51. ^ (Web Archive)
  52. ^ a b "Ex-Congressman, U.N. Delegate Indicted as Part of Terrorist Fundraising Ring". Fox News. 2008-01-16. 
  53. ^ "Ex-lawmaker pleads not guilty in money-laundering case". The Kansas City Star. 2008-01-29. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  54. ^ a b USAID Temporarily Delays Implementation of Partner Vetting System - Charities and National Security - OMB Watch (Web Archive)
  55. ^ OIG Semiannual Report to the Congress
  56. ^ Pincus, Walter (2007-08-30). "Plan for Terror Screening of Aid Groups Cut Drastically". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  57. ^ [3]
  58. ^ "U.S. Attorneys, Reloaded". The New York Times. 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  59. ^ Sanchez, Julian, "Wiretappings True Danger", Los Angeles Times, Opinion, 2008-03-16 [4]
  60. ^ Think Progress » Gitmo Lawyers File Constitutional Challenge Of Recently-Passed FISA Bill
  61. ^ Radden, Patrick. "Annals of Surveillance: State Secrets". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  62. ^ "Al Qaeda in Missouri -FBI raids Islamic American Relief Agency - IARA edu director Ibrahim Khaleel teaches Islam in public schools". Militant Islam Monitor. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  63. ^ Chris Killian, "Pity, disbelief expressed for Mark Siljander: Former Southwest Michigan congressman pleads guilty to federal charges", Kalamazoo Gazette, July 8, 2010. Accessed August 31, 2011.
  64. ^ "Ex-Congressman gets year for links to defunct Islamic Charity",Reuters, January 12, 2012.
  65. ^ March 26th, 2012 | Posted by Gordon Duff Financial Support for Mark Siljander

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
David Stockman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Michigan's 4th congressional district

1981–1987
Succeeded by
Fred Upton