November 9, 2012 | 20 comments
Islamists know how to play the game.
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• The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) brought a defamation lawsuit against former Rep. Cass Ballenger (a Republican from North Carolina), after he spoke of having reported CAIR to federal authorities as a “fundraising arm for Hezbollah.” CAIR also filed suit alleging “libelous defamation” against Andrew Whitehead of Anti-CAIR for his terming CAIR “a terrorist supporting front organization” founded by members of Hamas.
• CAIR-Canada, CAIR’s Canadian adjunct, sued David Harris,
formerly of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, along with
Ottawa’s CFRA radio station, because Harris, speaking on CFRA,
noted that 70 percent of funds raised by CAIR-CAN go to CAIR and
suggested that the Canadian government should look into
CAIR-Canada’s relationship with CAIR.
Finally, Islamists make life difficult for the U.S. government itself by bringing lawsuits against agencies tasked with maintaining security:
• A Georgia chicken farm alleged to be part of the Safa Group won much attention for suing the government because its attorney, Wilmer Parker, a former assistant U.S. attorney, claimed that federal prosecutors “knowingly made false statements” to obtain the search warrant for the raids. The lawsuit was dismissed.
• Five U.S. Muslim citizens got CAIR and ACLU support to sue the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for detaining them upon their return from an Islamic conference in Toronto, a conference which the patrol believed was a potential meeting place for terrorists. The suit was dismissed.
• Abdel Moniem Ali El-Ganayni, a nuclear physicist of Egyptian origins, sued the Department of Energy after it revoked his security clearance following an investigation that revealed he had “knowingly established or continued sympathetic association with a saboteur, spy, terrorist, traitor, seditionist, anarchist, or revolutionist, espionage agent, or representative of a foreign nation whose interests are inimical to the interests of the United States.”
Win or lose, the Islamists’ legal gambits disrupt the work of law enforcement.
Such predatory lawsuits also carry risks, however. Not only are they expensive and likely to go down in flames, as did the Unus effort, but they can backfire and wreak damage on the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs can look foolish when they must suddenly drop lawsuits, as did CAIR in its case against Andrew Whitehead or KinderUSA in its case against Yale University Press and Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Worse yet, Enaam Arnaout, director of the Benevolence International Foundation (BIF), made statements in BIF’s suit against the U.S. government that led to his being charged with obstruction of justice, convicted, and sentenced to 121 months in jail.
The unus and other lawsuits point to an abuse of the legal
system in need of remedy. Fortunately, important steps toward such
a remedy do exist, albeit usually only for private individuals:
that would be anti-SLAPP legislation, where SLAPP stands for
“Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation.” A SLAPP,
according to the California Anti-SLAPP Project, generally is “a (1)
civil complaint or counterclaim; (2) filed against individuals or
organizations; (3) arising from their communications
to government or speech on an issue of public interest or concern.” When these conditions are met, the court can make the plaintiff pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees and other legal costs.
The legislation works. The ADL filed an anti-SLAPP motion against Khadija Ghafur, prompting the court to dismiss her case. KinderUSA dropped its lawsuit as soon as the defendants made an anti-SLAPP motion, even before the court ruled on it. But anti-SLAPP statutes are only spottily available; nearly half the states and the federal government have not enacted them. Also, in too many instances the legislation is too narrowly construed by courts, making it an ineffective tool for defendants. For example, in the ISB case, the judge denied an anti-SLAPP motion on the grounds that only activities directly related to petitioning the government, not media activities, are protected by Massachusetts’ anti-SLAPP statute.
It is time to enact a uniform, federal anti-SLAPP legislation, as is now being proposed under the name of the Citizen Participation in Government and Society Act. Among other benefits, this will protect researchers and activists dealing with radical Islam and terrorism from predatory use of the legal system. If the war against radical Islam is to be won, all avenues of attack, including the courts, need to be battened down.
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