A special reply from Rachel Ehrenfeld. Plus: Obama’s deception. The leisure class. And more.
LIBEL TOURISM AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Re: Aaron Eitan Meyer’s Islamist Lawfare:
The Saudi billionaire and serial “libel tourist” Khalid bin Mahfouz is dead, but libel tourism (the use of foreign courts to sue American writers) continues to threaten Americans free speech rights.
Sadly, the Special Report on Islamist Lawfare by Aaron Eitan Meyer that appeared in the Spectator on September 15 misleads the reader to think that fighting for laws to protect Americans from libel tourism is “dangerous.” Specifically, Meyer hopes that “bin Mahfouz’s demise will provide an end to the dangerous overemphasis that has been placed on libel tourism.” Such a statement is astonishing from the assistant director of the Legal Project of the Middle East Forum, which uses the dire threat of libel tourism to raise funds for their own organization.
On its own website, the Legal Project offers my struggle against Mahfouz as its first example of silencing free speech. Mahfouz objected to my exposure of his terror financing activities in my book Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed — and How to Stop It, which was published only in the U.S. Instead of suing me here, he chose the British libel laws and courts in an attempt to silence me. Until I decided to fight for my Constitutional rights for free expression, libel tourism was successfully used as a weapon to intimidate the American media into silence.
Mahfouz, who did the Saudi royals’ bidding, was a serial suer. He frequently used archaic British libel laws that allow foreigners to sue other foreigners in British courts. Often with his son Abdulrahman, he sued more than 40 writers and publishers — mostly Americans — because he did not like their criticism.
Mahfouz made libel tourism a multimillion-dollar industry for the British Bar, and turned London into the “Libel Capital” of the world. On behalf of the Saudis, Mahfouz succeeded in using libel tourism as a weapon to intimidate the Western media from reporting on Saudi terror financing, and even from reporting his death.
However, due to my personal efforts, in May 2008, New York State was the first to pass the “Libel Terrorism Protection Act,” aka “Rachel’s Law” protecting New Yorkers from the likes of Mahfouz. Since then, Illinois and Florida passed similar laws and in California, the governor is about to sign the anti-libel tourism law.
Moreover, as a direct result of Mahfouz’s libel terrorism, the bipartisan Free Speech Protection Act 2009, sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter, Joseph Lieberman, Charles Schumer and Ron Wyden, is now pending in Congress. The bill is widely supported by major writers and publishers’ organizations in the U.S. These legislative victories were achieved with the endorsement of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and the Association of American Publishers (AAP); the American Library Association; American Association of University Professors, the New York City Bar Association, and many others.
This bipartisan broad-based support could be the reason behind the Saudi new initiative to prevent this bill from passing. They recently hired U.S.-based international law firms to publicly lobby against the Free Speech Protection Act.
Nevertheless, the U.S. is the only country to make free speech the foundation of its Constitution, and this bill would protect Americans free speech rights from foreign libel judgments that do not provide protection similar to our Constitution. Moreover, to deter libel tourism, the bill allows for countersuit and damages. A different version sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, passed in the House earlier this year.
Congress passed many laws to protect us from the threats of
terrorist attacks. It should now act to stop the war on our First
Amendment and strengthen the protection of our rights for free
expression. Congress should pass the Free Speech Protection Act
2009 without further delay.
— Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld
Director, American Center for Democracy (ACD)
ALWAYS THE CULPRIT
Re: Peter Ferrara’s Unhinged From Reality:
Once again, Mr. Ferrara has hit the nail on the head. What you
fail to mention is the failure to address the malpractice
problems and the highly increased costs associated with them,
problems that continue to be compounded with no attempt to
reform. As a physician, I too have been guilty of ordering many
unnecessary tests as “cover” should those clever plaintiff
attorneys file suit at a later date — suits that make claims
based on knowledge after the fact and entirely separate from
reality and the longitudinal thinking that goes into
decision-making in a contemporaneous mode. Funny how “smart”
those plaintiff attorneys seem in that setting, wholly separated
from the facts. I personally think plaintiff attorneys should be
on call to emergency rooms, as are doctors, to make those
decisions contemporaneously and see if they are really smart, or
just out for the money. I have always thought it problematic that
attorneys who lose cases in court never get sued for screwing up
the case, but a doctor with a bad scar is ALWAYS the
— R. Mandraccia, MD
Ft. Myers, Florida
Mr. Ferrara’s article in your current issue (“Taking Health
Savings into Account”) and today online (“Unhinged from Reality”)
clearly reveal the duplicity behind the administration’s
pronouncements about its health-care bill. He makes it crystal
clear why it is a bad idea by his illustrations. I do not believe
that the Grand Pooh-bah and his minions are stupid. They are
dyed-in-the-wool socialists. Their speeches follow the Marxist
tactic of using rhetorical veils to conceal while advancing their
hidden agenda. My questions are: What is the hidden agenda? What
is the end game they envision for nationalizing medicine and
health care? How will it benefit them? Why would they want to
knowingly impose upon the entire country a system they know will
be a detriment to the entire population? I fear the simple answer
is that we have been conquered by means of a bloodless coup
d’état and this gives them the power to intrude into every aspect
of one’s private life. But surely it must be more Draconian than
this. How does it benefit them?
— Joe Griffin
St. Charles, Missouri
“How can he possibly get away with spouting such shameless falsehoods to the entire nation?”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online