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Fifth Column Mouthpiece By: Henry Mark Holzer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, July 29, 2002


In our political system, lawyers occupy a privileged position. On the civil side, only they can represent litigants. On the criminal side, as prosecutors they have the power to send people to prison; as defense attorneys only they can represent persons charged with crimes.

With this government-granted monopoly power to work the levers of the legal system comes a heavy responsibility, reflected in lawyers’ codes of ethics. While a lawyer has the duty to represent his client “zealously,” at the same time there are entirely appropriate restraints on his advocacy. He can’t, for example, hide evidence, knowingly allow his client to lie under oath, or use his client’s case to advance his and/or his client’s political or other agenda.

Beginning in the Sixties, we’ve seen many examples of the latter, orchestrated by the Left. The “Chicago Seven” trial, that turned a criminal case into a circus. Cop-killing prosecutions, that became platforms for anti-government rhetoric. Draft evasion cases, that indicted not the defendants, but the Vietnam War. The maestro of these kinds of cases was the Communist lawyer, William Kunstler. Though Kunstler is dead, his legal clones continue to use the American legal system to advance an anti-American agenda that now includes support for terrorists.

Among the most visible of Kuntsler’s clones is Stanley Cohen, Esq.

Last fall, The New York Observer, in a puff piece on Cohen entitled “Kunstler protégé Stanley Cohen brings American rights to Hamas,” wrote that “Mr. Cohen, 47, is an old-time agitator – a 60’s demonstrator, a disciple of leftist celebrity lawyer William Kunstler. And since the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he’s become the unofficial head of a small and increasingly unpopular legal fraternity: defenders of suspected members of Mr. bin Laden’s terrorist network. The zeal with which he embraces his cause discomfits even some of his ideological fellow travelers.”

Cohen’s “zeal” is manifested in statements to The Village Voice (on September 25, 2001) and the New York Observer (on October 1, 2001) about what he calls his “Islamic practice,” and by two especially notorious cases.

  • Of his clientele: “Most of my clients are involved with struggle, many of them armed struggle.”
  • Of his identification with them: “Look, if I can’t support the politics of political clients, I don’t take the case.”
  • Of September 11, “I don’t think this was an Osama bin Laden job at all. But I think for a lot of reasons the government would prefer it to be Osama bin Laden. Because then there’s an identifiable bogey man. If it ever filtered down to the U.S. body politic that these acts are a result of indigenous struggle and uprising, that there are a lot of people pissed off at the United States for a lot of different reasons, Americans would shit. It’s a lot easier to think there’s six leaders, kill the six, and then life will be fine again and Doris Day will reign supreme.” “But do I think this operation was assisted by ex-C.I.A., ex-Mossad officers? Absolutely.”
  • Of post-September 11: “First of all, I’m not an American. Right now, I’m a lawyer.” “I figure it’s only a matter of time before the FBI and other delusional, paranoid wannabes start bothering clients of mine. Already they are being harassed, intimidated, and frightened.” “I fear the government is going to use this as a pretense . . . to go after those people who have stood up to Israeli interests and the pro-Israel lobby in this country.” “This [FBI investigation of terrorists] is gonna make the Palmer raids, this is gonna make the McCarthy age look like a meeting of the ACLU.”
  • Of a Muslim client, whom the FBI sought to interview: “My concern is that given the histrionics, given the environment, given the demagogues who are rampaging with their little American flags and their body counts, this holy man, a large figure with a big, black beard and dressed in Islamic garb, could be slaughtered on the highway. He could be killed by people who obviously would see he is a Muslim and assume that he is a bad guy involved in what happened in New York.”

Several years ago Cohen represented one Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook against an attempt by Israel to extradite the Hamas leader for his role in ten bombings and other fatal attacks on Israeli civilians. As The New York Observer reported, “For 22 months, Mr. Cohen visited Mr. Marzook almost nightly in jail.” He also tried to delay the hearing on Marzook’s habeas corpus petition, which Cohen himself had brought. Indeed, in the first footnote in his lengthy opinion denying the writ, federal judge Kevin Thomas Duffy of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote: “Counsel for Abu Marzook, Stanley L. Cohen, has made a public statement that he expects this extradition proceeding to take years. Apparently, Mr. Cohen expects to delay the proceedings by his refusal to comply with any schedule set by this court. The delays end now. The delay in this is in great part due to tactics employed by counsel for Abu Marzook.” (In re Extradition of Mousa Mohamed Abu Marzook, 924 F. supp. 565, 568 (U.S.D.C., S.D.N.Y, 1996).

In another case, Cohen and Lynne F. Stewart, the recently-indicted lawyer for the 1993 World Trade Center Muslim bomber-mastermind, represent Mazin Assi, a Palestinian charged with attempted firebombing of a Riverdale, New York, synagogue on the eve of the highest of Jewish holy days. Last fall, Cohen said that: “I want my client tried by people of color in the Bronx,” said Cohen. “I want my client tried by a jury of people who understand the difference between anger and hate, a people who understand the legitimacy of fighting back.” (The Village Voice, September 25, 2001). To the militant Cohen, “fighting back” (whatever that’s supposed to mean) includes firebombing a Jewish house of worship. Seeking a delay in the trial, Cohen added: “What I don’t want is for Mazin Assi to be tried in this anti-Arab climate that is so pervasive right now. I think Muslims will be lynched all over the United States in the coming weeks. I think the FBI is going to whip up such a fury that it will replace the hysteria caused by the shark attacks this summer.” (The Village Voice, September 25, 2001).

If we add up Cohen’s incendiary statements, the nature of his clientele, his unbridled animus toward the United States, his identification with terrorists and their cause, and his apparent willingness to do virtually anything in their defense, it’s clear that Cohen is using the American legal system to advance an anti-American, pro-terrorist, political agenda. In that, he can be fairly characterized as a member of today’s “fifth column.”

That term is attributed to a Spanish Civil War General named Mola. His troops were besieging Madrid, with four of their columns advancing on the city. Mola is quoted as having said that, within the city, he had a “fifth column”: men and women who were aiding Franco’s army from the inside, in his attack on the government.

Most dictionaries define fifth column as meaning “any group of people who give aid and support to the enemy from within their own country.”

In World War II, fifth columnists like Harry Dexter White sabotaged our fight against the Nazis. During the cold war, fifth columnists like the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss passed secrets to the Soviet Union. While Americans fought in Vietnam, fifth columnists like Tom Hayden actively collaborated with the Communist North Vietnamese in their war against the United States.

Now, in the Twenty First Century, unfortunately nothing has changed. As America fights for her life against largely faceless terrorism, anti-American, pro-terrorist lawyers like Stanley Cohen constitute the vanguard of today’s fifth column.


Henry Mark Holzer, Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn Law School, is a constitutional lawyer and author most recently of The Supreme Court Opinions of Clarence Thomas, 1991-2006, A Conservative’s Perspective.



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