After learning of the charges late Monday, School Board President Arlene Silveira issued a statement saying the board will reconsider the name if the federal investigation uncovers damaging information about Vang Pao.So, he's charged with federal crimes -- but it may not involve anything new. In other words, the School Board has already sorted through material that may be all the substance there is to the federal criminal charges. It seems to me that that Silveira's statement itself shows something is terribly wrong here. What an embarrassing admission coming from our school board president!
"Obviously if there is something that is negative and we would like to have a discussion, what we will do is have a reconsideration," she said.If there is something that is negative!
Silveira said the School Board will begin to investigate the "nature of the charges" today and then determine the next steps it will take.Here's the AP article about the federal criminal case:
Several dozen people were at the meeting to protest the school's name -- most showing up without knowing of the charges against Vang Pao. Many held signs declaring Vang Pao was a "war criminal" and a "killer."...
UW-Madison history professor Alfred McCoy and others have long alleged that Vang Pao presided over drug running and summary executions while working with the CIA on the so-called secret war against communists in Laos during the Vietnam War. Many Hmong and other researchers deny the allegations.
Authorities acted because weapons shipments were set to begin this month to areas in Thailand along the Laotian border, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. The buildup was in preparation for a coordinated set of mercenary attacks that investigators said were designed to kill communist officials and reduce government buildings to rubble, the complaint said....Back to the Cap Times piece:
"We're looking at conspiracy to murder thousands and thousands of people at one time," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Twiss said in federal court Monday.
He said thousands of coconspirators remain at large, many in other countries. Prosecutors said they believe all the leaders of the plot are in custody.
Vang Pao, now 77, led CIA-backed Hmong forces in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s as a general in the Royal Army of Laos. He emigrated to the U.S. about 1975 and has been credited by thousands of Hmong refugees with helping them build new lives in the U.S....
"No matter how strongly held their beliefs, citizens of the United States cannot become involved in a plot to overthrow a sovereign government with which the United States is at peace," Drew Parenti, FBI special agent in charge of the Sacramento region...
The defendants acted through the Lao liberation movement known as Neo Hom, led in the U.S. by Vang Pao. It conducted extensive fundraising, directed surveillance operations and organized a force of insurgent troops within Laos, according to the complaint.
Cher Peng Her, who spoke in defense of naming the school after Vang Pao, said later that even if the charges against Vang Pao turn out to be true, Vang Pao is simply defending his own people from a Laotian government that has sanctioned the killings, rapes and persecution of Hmong.So, now, oddly, Madison is the leading edge in appreciating anti-Communist military action. How could that happen? Well, you know damned well how it happened. What a strange place this is!
Her said President Bush used similar rationale for overthrowing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. "Should we bring charges against our president for doing exactly what Vang Pao is alleged?" Her asked.
Joua Vang said Vang has fought communists for decades "for U.S., and the U.S. is charging him? For what reason? I don't see that it's right."
ADDED: Lots of links and background on the story here.