Rep. Brian Higgins and the news media failed to recognize the dangers posed by Islamic terrorists in the Middle East who this week murdered an American hostage, Republican congressional candidate Kathy Weppner charged Friday.
Weppner conducted a newss conference outside The Buffalo News building to present a “timeline” in which she says Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, was informed of the growing strength of the Islamic State that this week executed American reporter James Foley. She said Higgins was briefed about the threat posed by the group on several occasions over the past 16 months as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and various subcommittees dealing with terrorism.
“Brian Higgins’ silence is unacceptable in the face of genocide,” she said. “We cannot afford to have a congressman that refuses to recognize threats to America.”
Weppner, a former radio talk show host, is waging an uphill battle against Higgins in an overwhelmingly Democratic district. But she plans to continue to emphasize what she called his labeling of Middle East conflicts as “civil wars” and not genocide.
“A year ago, when Congress realized Sunni, Shia and Christians were being slaughtered by the Islamic State of Iraq, we should have been forming a worldwide coalition of countries to take action against this,” she said. The Islamic State was originally known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
She presented an outline of various dates in which she claimed Higgins was briefed on the growing threat, as well as various news reports in which he said the people of the countries involved should solve “their own internal conflicts.”
“America can longer sit silent while the president golfs and Mr. Higgins stays silent,” she said.
Weppner also singled out The News and most media for what she called a failure to report on Higgins’ lack of action on the Middle East conflicts.
“This should be front-page news, and it is not,” she said. “Journalism is dead if we do not report on this.”
The candidate said Higgins should form an “international coalition” through his committee position to address the situation.
“He needs to stop focusing on trees on the waterfront for five minutes and take care of business in Washington,” she said.
A Higgins spokesman declined to comment.