Political Hay

Funding Terror Foundationally

Are recipients of George Soros's largesse abashed by the Soros money that found its way to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman's defender?

By 2.24.05

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It appears the George Soros's charitable giving goes a little beyond trying to defeat President Bush. Last week, Byron York of National Review revealed that in September 2002 the Soros-funded Open Society Institute (OSI) gave $20,000 to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee.

Lynne Stewart, you will recall, is the radical lawyer who was recently convicted of aiding one of her clients, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. Also known as the "Blind Sheik," Rahman was sentenced in 1996 to life imprisonment for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. After Rahman's conviction, his terrorist organization, Islamic Group, threatened to attack targets in the United States unless he was released. In response, the U.S. Government forbad Rahman from communicating with his Islamic Group henchmen. He was allowed to communicate only with his spouse and attorneys, who also were forbidden to communicate Rahman's dictates to Islamic Group. Lynne Stewart ignored the prohibition.

You can almost hear Stewart's supporters now: "But everyone, including Stewart, has the right to a defense," they would say. That is true -- and irrelevant. Just because Stewart has a right to a defense does not require Soros to fund it. By contributing to her defense barely a year after September 11, Soros and the OSI sent a message: Funding terrorist enablers is more important than fighting a War on Terror.

The OSI funds hundreds of organizations and individuals. Many belong on the Who's Who of left-liberal advocacy groups and think tanks. Here's a partial list of those that received OSI grants of $100,000 or more:

* Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (1999--$350,000; 2002--$275,000 and $100,000)

* People for the American Way (1999--$100,000; 2002--$100,000)

* Economic Policy Institute (1999--$184,350)

* Planned Parenthood Federation of America (1999--$200,000; 2002--$500,000)

* American Bar Association Fund for Justice and Education

* Human Rights Watch, Inc. (2002--$1,000,000 and $150,000; 2000--$1,000,000 and $179,350; 1999--$1,000,000)

* National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (2000--$100,000)

* Tides Foundation (1999--$700,000 and $200,000; 2002--$595,000, $350,000, $300,000 and $175,000; 2000--$500,000, $212,000 and $100,000)

* National Abortion Rights Action League Foundation (2002--$150,000)

* Sundance Institute for Film and Television (2002--$1,500,000)

(For a complete list of OSI $100,000+ grant recipients since 1999, visit the Capital Research Center website.)

Now that Stewart is convicted, we might ask the groups that took Soros money the following questions:

Are you embarrassed that one of your major donors contributed to the defense of someone accused -- and now convicted -- of helping a convicted terrorist communicate with his followers?

Will you consider returning the money you received from the Open Society Institute?

Finally, will you accept grants in the future from donors that assist accused terrorists?

I won't hold my breath waiting for the answers. But these Soros-funded groups should not just take the money and run. Instead, they should think seriously about their moral responsibility as grant recipients, and they should look to the example of some of their ideological brethren.

Both the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations recently instituted policies requiring their grantees to sign a statement saying that its grantees do not support terrorist groups or activities. At the very least, the morally responsible action for OSI grant recipients is to refuse any further OSI money until OSI adopts a similar policy.

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About the Author

David Hogberg is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.  Follow David Hogberg on Twitter.