The New York Times destroyed the life of Steven Hatfill in the anthrax case. No charges have ever been filed because there is no evidence against him. But Times columnist Nicholas Kristof did a series of columns urging the FBI to investigate the former government scientist. Kristof never went to Hatfill, his lawyer or spokesman for a comment. In response, Hatfill has sued Kristof and the Times for defamation. On the other hand, the Times and its reporter Eric Lichtblau have raised the alarm about the FBI conducting legitimate investigations of groups in the so-called anti-war movement that may be linked to violence.
Lichtblau’s story on August 16 began this way: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been questioning political demonstrators across the country, and in rare cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to forestall what officials say could be violent and disruptive protests at the Republican National Convention in New York.” On this basis of this story, the ACLU came out with a press release denouncing “FBI Tactics Targeting Political Protesters.” The ACLU issued the statement “after an article in today’s New York Times detailed actions taken by FBI agents” to “spy on and interrogate activists?”
This is the impact that the Times can have. Associated Press was quick to run its own story about FBI surveillance of supposedly peaceful groups and people. It ran on the MSNBC website under the headline, “Feds Monitoring Anti-GOP Activists,” as if the FBI was going after people because they opposed Bush. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Raising the specter of the return of J. Edgar Hoover, the former FBI director considered a bogeyman by the far left, Anthony D. Romero of the ACLU declared, “Resources and funds established to fight terrorism should not be misused to target innocent Americans who have done nothing more than engage in lawful protest and dissent.”
What do we know about these innocent people planning to disrupt the Republican convention? Take a look at the testimony of Louis J. Freeh, then-FBI Director, before the United States Senate, Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services, and Select Committee on Intelligence, on May 10, 2001. In testimony headlined, “Threat of Terrorism to the United States,” Freeh said that, “Anarchists and extremist socialist groups?many of which, such as the Workers’ World Party, Reclaim the Streets, and Carnival Against Capitalism?have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in the United States. For example, anarchists, operating individually and in groups, caused much of the damage during the 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle.”
Operating behind a front organization known as International ANSWER, the Workers World Party organized the anti-Iraq war protests in Washington, D.C. It is sympathetic to the regimes in North Korea and Cuba, and was close to the Saddam Hussein regime. The anarchist groups are notorious for engaging in violence against targets of global capitalism. Even Bill Clinton’s FBI director recognized the threat.