Friday, October 19, 2007

Lawfare

Libertas has an interview with attorney and documentary filmmaker Brooke Goldstein about her film The Making of a Martyr. The interview is worth reading in its entirety, but I have excerpted below her response to a question about lawfare which has become an important non-violent tactic for radical Islamists. Goldstein is part of The Legal Project at the Middle East Forum established to counter Islamist lawfare. She is a good example of how private citizens can take action against radical Islamists.

Goldstein: Lawfare is defined as the pursuit of strategic goals through aggressive legal maneuvers. Lately analysts, researchers, media outlets, charitable groups and authors dedicated to publishing and exposing issues of concern regarding counter-terrorism, have found themselves on the receiving end of a series of targeted lawsuits.

These suits, whose claims range from defamation to workplace harassment, are designed to bankrupt, punish and intimidate Defendants into silence and have an overall chilling effect on the exercise of free speech within this country.

For example, Rachel Ehrenfeld, author of the book “Funding Evil,” was sued for defamation in a Plaintiff-friendly U.K libel court by Saudi billionaire Khalid Bin Mahfouz, whom Rachel cites as providing financial support to terrorists. Rachel lost on default and was ordered to pay a significant amount to Bin Mahfouz while her important book is banned from being sold in England.

Bruce Tefft, a former anti-terrorism consultant for the NYPD, was sued by an Egyptian John Doe Muslim police officer for workplace harassment after he sent out emails to a voluntary recipient list of NYPD officers about the threat of Islamic radicalization within our country. Ironically, a few weeks later the NYPD released its own report confirming Tefft’s fears. Nonetheless, Bruce continues to rack up legal costs defending himself in what looks like a frivolous suit designed to discourage the free flow of information within our justice system.

Sometimes just the threat of suit is enough to intimidate parties into silence. When Bin Mahfouz wrote a letter to Cambridge University Press threatening to sue over Robert Collins and J. Millard Burr’s “Alms for Jihad,” the publisher ceased print, destroyed books, requested that libraries do the same and released an apology letter claiming facts they had once proliferated as true, to be false. Even though both authors sent supporting documents to back up their claims against Mahfouz, and despite the fact that Burr is a former State Department employee and well respected intelligence analyst, Cambridge Press capitulated and refused to disseminate information of grave public concern. The Legal Project, at the MEF, of which I am director, was launched to counter such attacks on by arranging for pro-bono representation of citizens who are unfairly targeted with malicious and frivolous suits.

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