The general leading the force to free the captive enemy from the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, and inflict a humiliating defeat on the United States is so-called “civil rights” and “Constitutional” attorney Michael Ratner. It was Ratner who led the way in recruiting elite lawyers to defend the enemy combatants being interrogated at Gitmo. But Ratner is a long-time leader of two pro-Communist and anti-American organizations who have for decades lent aid and comfort to America's enemies in the Cold War and beyond.
Michael Ratner began his legal career in the late 1960s at the National Lawyers Guild, a Soviet created front group which still embraces its Communist heritage. He worked his way up through the NLG’s radical ranks to become its president, then moved on to hold the same position at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which shares the NLG's anti-American radicalism and was founded by pro-Castro lawyers Arthur Kinoy and William Kunstler. Among its many outrages, the CCR has defended domestic and international terrorists, and has honored Ratner's NLG colleague and convicted terrorist enabler Lynne Stewart, a modern Legal Left idol. Since 9/11, Ratner and his comrades have attempted to extend undeserved “civil rights” to Islamist murderers with notable success. On this front, Ratner and the Legal Left have dealt America some of its few setbacks in the War on Terror.
One year ago the U.S. suffered its first major loss in this war, a strategic and propaganda defeat, related to America’s abilities to imprison and interrogate enemies that it captures. Abu Ghraib was a huge propaganda victory, both for Islamists, who used it to “justify” their violent attacks, and for fifth column leftists, who made use of the media’s saturation coverage to portray the U.S. as the world’s biggest oppressor, the Bush administration as a cabal of Nazi thugs, and the Iraq war as an immoral undertaking. The gross overplay of that prison scandal in concert with other overblown and sometimes fabricated stories – like Newsweek’s “Koran in the toilet” canard – emboldened Islamic terrorists, eroded U.S. public support for the War on Terror, and damaged America’s credibility around the world.
Now, as our memories of 9/11 continue to fade into the past, Michael Ratner has opened another battle against the War on Terror – at Guantanamo Bay. Never mind that almost all of the prisoners at Guantanamo were picked up by U.S. forces doing battle for the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, or that many of them are, in Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s words, “the worst of the worst.” Never mind that al-Qaeda members and close associates of Osama bin Laden fill their ranks, or that they’re trained to fabricate tales of abuse to erode their enemy’s morale. Although most of them are violent religious fanatics, and although they’ve been treated better than any captured combatants in world history, Michael Ratner and his lawyers want to provide them the chance to trumpet their “grievances” to a sympathetic press, exploit legal loopholes, and ultimately return to the battlefield.
The fight to liberate Guantanamo prison
As the wreckage of the Twin Towers was still smoldering, Michael Ratner began planning his attack on America’s post-9/11 defense strategy. Realizing that it would take major legal clout to seriously subvert the War on Terror, Ratner began taking steps to attract major U.S law firms to his cause. First, he adopted a high public profile against the Bush administration’s reaction to 9/11 by savaging every facet of its plan to protect the U.S. from future attack. Working the “civil liberties” angle for all it was worth, Ratner raged at the Patriot Act, railed against profiling techniques designed to ferret out Islamic terrorists in our midst, and opposed invading Afghanistan to hunt down and capture Osama bin Laden and his Taliban henchmen.
The mainstream press assisted Ratner by promoting him as a champion of civil rights while carefully hiding his lifelong radicalim from the American public (see below). When the Islamists’ battleground changed, Ratner took a prominent role in the antiwar movement by opposing Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ratner became a staple of antiwar, anti-Bush events. More importantly, he filed a series of high-profile nuisance suits against the Bush administration, one of which attempted to have Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrested and tried for “war crimes” by German courts.
In April 2002, Ratner led the Center for Constitutional Rights in filing a class action suit, Turkmen v. Ashcroft, on behalf of Muslim illegal aliens and non-citizens who were picked up for questioning shortly after the 9/11 attacks. The suit alleges “that the INS arrested this group on the pretext of minor immigration violations and secretly detained them for the weeks and months the FBI took to clear them of terrorism, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and international human rights law.” Filed against former Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, former INS Commissioner James Ziglar, and officials of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, the Turkmen case catapulted Ratner into the legal spotlight and – according to him – gained him valuable legal help from other firms once too nervous to touch cases involving 9/11 suspects. He set out to recruit pro bono help, and sympathetic leftist counselors now had fewer inhibitions against joining him.
After suffering a series of legal setbacks in his pro-terrorist legal crusade, Ratner won a major victory in Rasul v. Bush, a suit he brought seeking to grant Islamist terror suspects access to U.S. courts. That victory cleared the way for him to gain direct access to Guantanamo’s prisoners. With this, the trickle of queries from other law firms soon became a steady stream of volunteers to his cause.
Now it’s a torrent, and major U.S. firms including Clifford Chance; Dorsey & Whitney; Allen & Overy; Covington & Burling; and Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr – the last of which also does business with companies involved in the U.S. defense, national security, and government contracts sectors – have teamed up with Michael Ratner and CCR to provide legal services to terrorists and terrorist suspects. (Does the firm know Ratner’s background? If so, does the government know about its connection to Ratner?) Today, teams of lawyers fly to Guantanamo Bay to help people who, if given the chance, would kill all of them and make the Koran their only basis of law.
Obviously, there are many ethical lawyers and law firms that represent violent criminals and defend those with whom they may have deep moral and ideological disagreements – but Ratner is not one of them. “I don't usually take cases where I disagree with the politics of the people involved,” he said in a 2002 interview, clarifying where he stands on anti-American terrorism.
Ratner’s odd view of “justice” stems from his decades in service to the radical cause. Ratner’s pro-Communist, pro-terrorist views are perhaps best illustrated by his affinity for Cuba’s totalitarian regime and by his love of the man who set up Castro’s KGB-inspired prison system, Ché Guevara. Guevara – who was known for taping his victims’ mouths shut to avoid hearing their screams as he tortured and murdered his way through Cuba – is, despite his real life incompetence, a hero of mythical proportions to the Left. Ratner chose to sing Che’s praises in a1997 book:
…for many of us seeking to change our society, Cuba was a desirable model. And it was Ché Guevara, more than any other figure, who embodied both that revolution and solidarity with peoples fighting to be free from U.S. hegemony…Ché has remained my hero ever since. (Emphasis added.)
In the same book, Ratner recounts a hiking trip he once took to retrace the path of Guevara:
Tears streamed down my cheeks, my energy was renewed and I completed the hike. To be like Ché: To be selfless, to make a family of one’s comrades, to give up comfort and material gain for the revolution, to risk and probably give one’s life to free humanity.
Though he fights to keep violent convicted criminals who flee to Cuba safe from extradition back to America, “civil rights champion” Ratner has never spoken up for the civil rights of non-violent Cuban dissidents – including the journalists, artists, and activists who have been tossed into Castro’s horrific prisons after mock trials. Ironically, some of those hellholes are a short distance from the U.S. run camp at Guantanamo Bay.
The Soros Connection
Ratner’s CCR has almost always received modest funding, most of it from far-Left organizations and leftist-run foundations. But funding of CCR increased by leaps and bounds after Ratner adopted his post-9/11 high profile.
The George Soros-funded Open Society Institute, the Tides Foundation, and other leftist support groups began heavily funding Ratner and CCR’s anti-Bush, antiwar, anti-American agendas.
Thanks to these forces, the proper relationship between prisoner and guard, deemed vital for successful interrogation, has now been damaged and the Department of Defense (DOD) faces a dilemma. Ratner’s suit has already somewhat undermined its effectiveness at Guantanamo Bay. If the DOD closes Gitmo, the prisoners will be set free or moved to the U.S. where it will be nearly impossible to deny them access to U.S. courts. If the department moves the prisoners to another location outside of U.S. jurisdiction, Ratner and his fifth column legal army will simply begin another high-profile fight for the prisoners’ “rights,” and the propaganda battle begins anew with continued erosion of popular and political support for the War on Terror.
Though the battle for Guantanamo’s prisoners is not yet over, from the time the first plane-load of lawyers touched down in Cuba, two things became abundantly clear: Islamist psychopaths had won a major victory against America’s resolve to fight them.
And Michael Ratner, George Soros, and a host of prestigious American law firms helped them.
Rocco DiPippo, a free-lance political writer, publishes The Autonomist blog and is a contributor to David Horowitz’s Moonbat Central group blog.