As our nation faces what is potentially the deadliest terrorist threat in history, more Americans need to be aware of the activities of an organization called the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which was co-founded by the radical attorneys William Kuntsler and Arthur Kinoy. While deceptively describing itself as "a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," (itself an impossibility since the two documents are in conflict with each other), the Center is in fact a Fifth Column law factory, part of the same political Left that has spent decades portraying America as a racist, corrupt, arrogant violator of human rights both at home and abroad.
Whatever the issue and whoever the enemy, this Left has cast America as the villain in the case. Just as it supported the Communists during the Vietnam War, it has now swung into action with the aim of crippling America's effort to defend itself in the war on terror. How does an American Fifth Column go about its business? Consider the post-September 11 docket of an institution calling itself the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).
The Center for Constitutional Rights has condemned the Bush administration for expanding the authority of security agencies to conduct wiretaps and surveillance on suspected terrorists, and also to detain suspected terrorists for longer time periods than ordinary criminals. According to CCR spokesmen, such measures unjustifiably "sacrific[e] our political freedoms in the name of national security." When law-enforcement agencies detained hundreds of non-citizens from the Middle East for possible terrorist connections in the wake of 9-11, CCR vehemently denounced such actions as an ugly form of "racial profiling." When Attorney General Ashcroft declared, "Let the terrorists among us be warned [that] if you overstay your visas even by one day, we will arrest you," CCR characterized his comments as "chilling." When the FBI and other law-enforcement personnel attempted to interview, on a voluntary basis, several thousand Middle Eastern men who were in the United States on temporary visas, cries of "racial profiling" again emanated from CCR.
CCR also has plenty to say about foreign policy and national defense issues. Though al-Qaeda did not launch its attack in the form of long-range missiles fired across oceans and continents, surely such a threat looms ever larger, as increasing numbers of rogue governments and terrorist organizations strive to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Yet on June 11 of this year, CCR filed a federal lawsuit charging that President Bush acted unconstitutionally when he terminated the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty that was signed in 1972 with the now-defunct Soviet Union. Our enemies prefer to render us vulnerable to nuclear blackmail or annihilation. Thus it is not at all surprising that CCR characterizes the ABM Treaty — which prevented our nation from developing a means to defend against a nuclear strike — as "the cornerstone of strategic stability."
It will be virtually impossible for our country to win the war on terror if we do not somehow control the vast numbers of illegal immigrants — some of them undoubtedly with terrorist affiliations — streaming across our borders every day. And precisely because illegal immigration poses such a grave threat to America's security, our Fifth Column law factory works diligently on behalf of those lawbreakers who slip into our midst undetected. Consider, for instance, a Long Island, New York neighborhood where, for several years, residents have been protesting the presence of illegal Latino aliens who work as day laborers. According to CCR, these workers — "seeking only to support themselves and their families" — have been "subjected to an organized campaign of harassment by anti-immigrant forces."
What form has this "harassment" taken? It seems that a particular group of local citizens has photographed and videotaped the illegals, submitting the films to the INS to facilitate deportation hearings. The same group has tried to pass legislation imposing penalties not only on those men who stand on the street looking for work, but also on those who employ them. No reasonable person would define this as "harassment," but in the lexicon of those who seek America's collapse, the word serves to deflect attention away from the illegal aliens — and onto the purportedly heartless whistleblowers. CCR Assistant Legal Director Barbara Olshansky says, "We have developed litigation to challenge this campaign of harassment, and are working to educate these workers about their rights as well." How remarkable it is to see illegal aliens transformed, by the magic of Orwellian Newspeak, into "workers" with brigades of attorneys fighting to protect their "rights."
CCR claims that a nation in which somewhere between six and thirteen million illegal aliens already reside is too restrictive in its immigration policies. Now that legal entry into the US has been made more difficult for members of political groups "whose public endorsement of...terrorist activity... [may undermine] the United States," CCR is sounding the alarm that a "witch-hunt" is in progress that allegedly would undo America's great tradition of welcoming (legal) immigrants.
Similarly, CCR complains that entry into the US may also be barred to those who have previously used their "position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity." CCR even finds fault with newly implemented procedures by which the FBI, CIA, and INS can share vital information with one another in order to derail terrorist plots. Such procedures, CCR warns, constitute an assault on "our privacy." Clearly, these are the positions of an organization dedicated to helping the terrorists achieve their goals.
In March 2002, CCR president Michael Ratner — who has a long public history of "solidarity" with Communist causes — placed the blame for anti-American terrorism squarely where we might have expected. "If the US government truly wants its people to be safer and wants terrorist threats to diminish," said Ratner, "it must make fundamental changes in its foreign policies... particularly its unqualified support for Israel, and its embargo of Iraq, its bombing of Afghanistan, and its actions in Saudi Arabia. [These] continue to anger people throughout the region, and to fertilize the ground where terrorists of the future will take root." In other words, America brought about the terrorism — by injecting its purportedly irrational policies into the otherwise placid, reasoned landscape of militant Islam.
Ratner denounced America's "intensive bombing campaign" in Afghanistan — lamenting that thousands of refugees were being forced to flee, and citing a preposterous UN prediction that some 100,000 Afghan children would die as a result of our country's "aggression." He further condemned our forces for "refusing even to pause the bombardment to permit food deliveries." Those were the same food cargoes, it should be noted, that the United States air-dropped in its effort to save innocent civilians. But when the Fifth Column is busy smearing the object of its contempt, inconvenient facts like this cannot be permitted to spoil the hate-fest.
"Hate for Americans," Ratner continued, "is pouring into the streets of ... Muslim countries; we are creating the terrorists that will visit terror upon our children... . We do not know the number of innocents killed." He explained that as an alternative to war, the US ought to "treat the attacks on September 11 as a crime against humanity, establish a UN tribunal, extradite the suspects, or if that fails, capture them with a UN force, and try them." In other words, the very same zealots who bunkered down in our planet's deepest caves — preferring to perish under the assault of B-52 bombers rather than be taken alive — should have simply been "captured" and "extradited." It hardly sounds like anyone would even have to get his fingernails dirty. Ratner, of course, is an intelligent man who knows better than to deem such a scenario even remotely possible. But he accomplished his purpose: to depict the US as unnecessarily brutal, and therefore worthy of Muslim scorn.
It is difficult to identify any American action of which CCR publicly approves. Not even our manner of dealing with captured al-Qaeda soldiers is acceptable to Ratner and his cohorts. After President Bush signed an order establishing military tribunals to try suspected terrorists, Ratner warned that the verdicts of such "kangaroo courts" will "not be trusted" in the Muslim world. "It would be much better," Ratner advised, "to demonstrate to the world that the guilty have been apprehended and fairly convicted in front of impartial and regularly constituted courts." Presumably we are to believe that the selfsame Muslims who despise our civilization somehow respect the integrity of our court system. Again, Ratner knows better. His purpose was simply to portray the US as a nation intent on denying people the justice they deserve.
Lamenting that the al-Qaeda prisoners could face execution if convicted by a military tribunal, CCR spokespeople trumpeted allegations that the captives who were being transported to the American Naval Base in Guantanamo were being "ill treated." The prisoners were purportedly "shackled, hooded, and sedated during the 25-hour flight from Afghanistan; their beards and heads were forcibly shaved." Then, upon their arrival at Guantanamo, they were "housed in small cells that failed to protect against the elements." In order to demonize the United States, Ratner predictably painted a pious, human face on the helpless captives — never mentioning that on the battlefield, they had shown themselves to be as brutal and bloodthirsty as any enemy our country has ever faced.
Not surprisingly, a number of the attorneys who align themselves with CCR are noted for their anti-American ideologies and totalitarian sympathies. Lynn Stewart, for example, has not been squeamish about advocating violence and revolution as legitimate means of correcting the injustices of American capitalism. "I don't believe in anarchistic violence," says Stewart, "but in directed violence. That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism, and sexism, and the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support." She once told a news reporter, "When the revolution comes to this country, it'll be as American as apple pie and baseball."
Stewart has legally represented Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who, in his 1995 trial, was sentenced to life-in-prison for his role in masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Rahman is a purported leader of the Islamic Group, an Egyptian terrorist organization with ties to al-Qaeda, and which has been on the US list of terrorist organizations for several years. This very group took responsibility for the 1997 massacre of 58 tourists in Luxor, Egypt — an attack whose purpose was to press for Rahman's release from prison. Among the Sheik's other brainstorms were plans to blow up the Lincoln and Holland tunnels and the United Nations building.
The terms of Rahman's prison sentence severely restrict his communications with the outside world. Similarly, Ms. Stewart is forbidden to pass messages between Rahman and anyone else. Yet in April 2002 Stewart was indicted on charges that she had "facilitated and concealed communications" between the Sheik and members of the aforementioned Islamic Group. The charges state that when Stewart visited her client in prison, she knowingly permitted Rahman to give an Arabic translator messages that Rahman wanted transmitted to the Islamic Group — in essence allowing the Sheik to direct terrorist activities from his cell.
But not surprisingly, the good folks at CCR reject that version of events. "As [Stewart] does not speak or understand Arabic," CCR explains, "she could not have known the content of the conversations that allegedly occurred between the translator and the Sheik. If she was unaware of the supposed illegal nature of the conversations, it is difficult to see how she could be accused of giving material aid to a terrorist organization." So there you have it: the poor dear knew nothing about it. Incidentally, earlier this year Stewart announced that she would also represent Sheik Rahman's son Ahmed, who was captured in Afghanistan nearly nine months ago and accused of being a liaison between the Islamic Group and al-Qaeda.
Ms. Stewart's colleague, Stanley Cohen, takes similar pride in defending Muslim terrorists. Among his more notable clients are the very same Sheik Rahman; Mousa Abu Marzook, who heads the political wing of Hamas; Mazin Assi, a Palestinian-American tried for firebombing a Bronx synagogue; and Moataz Al-Hallak, an imam from Texas with suspected ties to al-Qaeda. At a 1998 Islamic conference where he was the keynote speaker, Cohen stated that the "true terrorists are the state of Israel and its supporter, the United States, in perpetuating the victimization of the Palestinians in their own land." At the same meeting, Cohen referred to a Hamas leader as his "brother."
America is a truly tolerant place. Stewart, Cohen, Ratner and other CCR agents regularly appear on television and radio talk shows and are presented as "civil rights" activists and "progressives." Nothing could be further from the truth.