June 5, 2007 12:00 AM

Suspect in alleged Laos plot had friends, influence on Capitol Hill

Former Gen. Vang Pao and other Hmong hardliners earned a Capitol Hill reputation for both power and persistence. Theyve befriended lawmakers particularly in California, where nearly half of the approximately 103,000 foreign-born Hmong live in the United States, according to the 2000 Census bottled up trade bills and dominated congressional hearings. Doggedly anti-communist, Vang Pao in particular has been a force to reckon with. Now hes in jail, a sharp reversal of fortune for a man long cultivated by CIA operatives and members of Congress.

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