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Civil Liberties Advocates

This section of DiscoverTheNetworks examines a host of individuals who claim to promote civil liberties -- i.e., freedoms that protect individuals against excessive government intrusion into their private lives -- but whose true purpose is to defend the purveyors of radical, sometimes even terrorist, agendas. Working to undermine the efforts of American security institutions to combat domestic criminals and international enemies, these activists justify their agendas through an ideological framework that casts the United States government as an "oppressive" regime at home and an imperialist intruder overseas.

One of the more infamous civil-liberties advocates of recent years was the former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, who in 1997 created the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, which -- in the name of "civil liberties" -- sought to overturn a law making it illegal for anyone to provide “material support” for terrorist organizations, and authorizing the U.S. government to use secret evidence in terrorism investigations.

A few years later, the hidden motives underlying Al-Arian's crusade for "civil liberties" became apparent when the FBI came into possession of some 500 videotapes of conferences in which Al-Arian had participated, where funds had been raised to aid terrorism efforts overseas; where Al-Arian had condemned Israel and praised “the river of blood that gushes forth and does not extinguish, from butchery to butchery, and from martyrdom to martyrdom, from jihad to jihad”; and where Al-Arian had clearly shown himself to be the North American leader of the terorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The FBI further learned that Al-Arian had connections to the convicted terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman, to Hamas official Mohammed Sakr, to the high-ranking Sudanese terrorist Hassan Turbai, and to Islamic Jihad co-founder Abdel Aziz-Odeh. Notwithstanding this incriminating evidence, civil-liberties groups like the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights rushed to Al-Arian's defense.

Another modern-day civil-liberties icon is Ramsey Clark, who served as U.S. Attorney General under President Lyndon Johnson. In 1991 Clark founded the International Action Center, which serves as an umbrella foundation for a host of civil-liberties and anti-war groups and is staffed by members of the Workers World Party, a Marxist-Leninist vanguard. For decades, Clark has consistently denounced American foreign policy and its related military campaigns, from the Vietnam War, to the Iraq War, to the broader war on terror.

Conversely, Clark has backed myriad groups, governments, and individuals with rabidly anti-American, and even terrorist, agendas, including: the North Vietnamese Communists in the 1960s; Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979-80; Libya's President Muammar Qadhafi in the 1980s; the PLO terrorists who murdered an elderly American Jew aboard an Italian cruise ship in 1986; Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 1990, even as the dictator's military was conducting a brutal invasion of Kuwait; the Islamic terrorists who carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; the four men who helped orchestrate the deadly 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and the Islamic terrorists held by U.S. authorities at the Guantanamo Bay detention center post-9/11.

Yet another hero of the civil-liberties establishment is Charles Clark Kissinger, a prominent member of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Kissinger began his public activism in the early 1960s when he served as the national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society, the leading radical organization of its day. He also worked closely with Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party. A fervent supporter of the late Mao Zedong’s Communist regime in China, Kissinger continues to enjoy the backing of the Maoist Internationalist Movement.

In 1987 Kissinger created "Refuse & Resist!" (R&R) -- on whose national council he continues to serve. Kissinger and his R&R allies hold a grim view of an American culture allegedly rife with "white supremacy," violence against women, and "xenophobic attacks ... on anything foreign."

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Kissinger created the anti-war group Not In Our Name, which condemned the American government's "injustices" carried out in pursuit of "endless war"; its greed-driven "transfusions of blood for oil"; its determination to "erode [our] freedoms"; and its eagerness to "invade countries, bomb civilians, kill more children, [and annihilate] families on foreign soil.”

"The problem in this country," says Kissinger, can be traced to one root cause: "the oppressive system of capitalism that exploits people all over the world, that destroys our planet, that oppresses minority people, that sends people to the death chambers in droves. That is a problem that has to be done away with." "Revolution is the solution," Kissinger expands.

An influential ideological ally of Kissinger is Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. Ratner, who identifies the late Che Guevara as his lifelong hero, is the individual most responsible for the legal campaign aimed at shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. Years before Guantanamo began to be used as a prison for Muslim terror suspects, Ratner and CCR were already defending such notorious Islamists as Omar Abdel RahmanMousa Abu Marzook, Mazin Assi (who firebombed a New York synagogue), and Moataz Al-Hallak (a Texas imam suspected of having close links to al Qaeda and the 9/11 hijackers).

Immediately after 9/11, Ratner began taking steps to attract major U.S law firms to his campaign against the war on terror. Citing a concern for “civil liberties,” he publicly condemned virtually every aspect of the Bush administration's response to the 9/11 attacks: the Patriot Act; profiling techniques targeting people of Middle Eastern extraction; the establishment of a Department of Homeland Security; the granting of greater surveillance powers to the FBI and CIA; and the looming U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

In March 2002, Ratner explained his views on the origins of anti-American terrorism: “If the U.S. government truly wants its people to be safer and wants terrorist threats to diminish, 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.”

Ratner is a longtime admirer of Philip Agee, the former CIA agent who became a Communist and (in the 1970s) publicly identified hundreds of fellow agents, at least one of whom -- Richard Welch -- was murdered shortly thereafter. When Agee (who subsequently fled to Cuba to avoid prosecution for treason) died in January 2008, Ratner eulogized him as one of those rare individuals "who find the courage to expose criminal misconduct by their own governments."

No pantheon of civil-liberties icons would be complete without the self-proclaimed "radical human-rights attorneyLynne Stewart, a devoted Maoist who has defended such notorious figures as Weather Underground bomber Kathy Boudin and Black Panther Willie Holder. She also has gone on record saying that, if given the opportunity, she would defend Osama bin Laden.

Stewart made national headlines in April 2002 when she was arrested for providing material support to the Islamic Group, an Egypt-based terrorist organization with close links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. After Stewart's arrest, a litany of leftwing civil-liberties organizations instantly rushed to her aid. These included International ANSWER, the National Lawyers Guild, Refuse and Resist, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Moreover, Stewart became a cause celebre of the left; she was invited to speak not only at college campuses all across the United States, but also at such forums as the Socialist Scholars Conference in New York.

These and many other left-wing civil-liberties advocates are profiled in Discover The Networks. 

Individual Profiles

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                                 SEE ALSO

* Civil Liberties

* Civil Liberties Groups

* Anti-Patriot Act Individuals

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