The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has suffered another setback in its effort to gag all those who would criticize its cozy relationship with Hamas and radical Islam. The Canadian branch of CAIR was forced this week to back off its defamation suit against David Harris, Director of the International and Terrorist Intelligence Program (INSIGNIS), a strategic intelligence research corporation based in Ottawa. This retreat comes on the heels of a similar lawsuit that the US division of CAIR filed against Andrew Whitehead, the head of Anti-CAIR in the United States, and was forced recently to withdraw.
Harris had appeared on an Ottawa radio station, CFRA radio, and during an interview made some remarks about the need for Canadian authorities to take a hard look at CAIR-CAN and the fact that some 70% of the funds it raises goes to the American chapter of the organization. He was then hit by a SLAPP lawsuit launched by Dr. Sheema Kahn and Riad Saloojee, the Executive Director of CAIR-CAN. (Both CAIR-CAN leaders have since lost their jobs.)
According to Harris, CAIR-CAN "dropped the suit cold" with no damages, costs, and, as with its dismissed $1.35 million action against ACAIR in the U.S., with no apologies or detailed clarification. A lawyer involved in criminal and national security matters who has testified before the Congress and is a former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and who appears frequently on radio, Harris said in a prepared press statement:
"As a commentator on national security affairs, my guiding principle throughout CAIR-CAN's lawsuit was never to compromise hard-won rights of media and media commentators to their exercise of responsible free expression under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I viewed this as a responsibility at a time when Canadians in Afghanistan and elsewhere are dying for such rights, and when civil liberties must be vigorously defended at home.”
He added, "It is unknown whether this unease [on the part of the court] stemmed from concern about the detailed review and disclosures that would derive from such proceedings. Or
whether the collapse of its mother organization's US$1.35 million libel case against the American Anti-CAIR organization played a part. We do not know whether it was the unearthing of a December 2003 court document in which Dr. Khan had sworn to CAIR-CAN's subsidiary status in relation to the troubling US CAIR group. Perhaps it was a concern that, on the witness stand, CAIR-CAN officials would be asked to answer the questions I had asked about that relationship on CFRA radio."
Just as with the Anti-CAIR case, CAIR-CAN sought to spin its loss in a press release stating that Harris, who was a regular "security consultant" on CFRA -radio, would not be invited back as a guest. (He has in fact appeared several times on the channel as a guest since the instigation of the lawsuit.) CAIR-CAN has also suggested that it had silenced its Canadian critics by its legal action, just as it had silenced its critics in the U.S. But the Anti-CAIR group has become even more relentless in its pursuit of CAIR since the lawsuit was dropped.
This is actually the third round in the battle against CAIR and its effort to destabilize the domestic War on Terror that has been won by its opponents.
The first loss came when CAIR-CAN dropped its suit against columnist David Frum of the National Post. Frum, a former White House speechwriter for the Bush administration who is credited with the "axis of evil" phrase, was sued by CAIR-CAN because of his suggestion in a (Canadian) National Post article that CAIR-CAN had terrorist affiliations. Frum issued this statement about his own case after the David Harris victory: "The lawsuit against the National Post and myself was settled with an editor's note that likewise offered no apology or retraction. The settlement of the Harris lawsuit should be of special interest to Canadians. David Harris is one of Canada's leading experts on terrorism: a former chief of strategic planning for CSIS and now president of the IINSIGNIS consulting firm. His views are regularly heard on television and radio. Now he has recovered his full freedom to speak and to alert Canadians to the dangers in their midst.”
What lessons will CAIR take from the reverses it has suffered in these three court actions? Will the organization moderate its support of Hamas and other radical Islamist organizations? Will there be a shakeup in CAIR's leadership, as there has been with CAIR-CAN? And most importantly, will the "rank and file" membership of CAIR finally recognize that this organization is not a “civil rights” group and represents radical Islamists overseas and not ordinary Muslims here at home?
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