The New York Times has a new public editor, or reader’s advocate, who is supposed to hold the paper responsible for what it prints. He should take a look at a November 23rd piece by Eric Lichtblau that accused the FBI of conducting widespread surveillance of anti-war protesters. Not surprisingly, the groups allegedly under surveillance have raised an outcry, demanding congressional investigations into the Bureau. The ACLU also expressed alarm. In its own defense, the FBI issued a statement and sent a letter to the paper, saying the Lichtblau article was way off base and “nothing could be further from the truth.”
The FBI letter says that the Bureau’s interest is in preventing violence, and points to “millions of dollars in damage from fires set during the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle” and molotov cocktails that were prepared for an IMF meeting in Washington, D.C. The Bureau says, “Those activities, and not the peaceful expression of political dissent, are the focus of our efforts.”
There is another reason to investigate some of the groups behind the protests, and it has nothing to do with possible violence. One of the main anti-war groups, International ANSWER, has identified communists in its ranks who have traveled to such places as Baghdad under Saddam Hussein, Cuba and North Korea. But the FBI does not seem to be investigating whether the group has received funds or direction from abroad.
International ANSWER is a front of the communist Workers World Party. Back in 1974, the House Committee on Internal Security published a report on the WWP, noting its involvement in prison disruptions, support for Arab terrorists, and links to North Korea and Cuba. Today, however, there are no congressional committees dedicated to monitoring and investigating such activities.
The cases of James Michael Clark, Kurt Allen Stand and Therese Marie Squillacote provide an understanding of how young people involved with a communist group can help our enemies. These three individuals were involved in a Communist Party youth group at the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s. Later, Squillacote became a Defense Department official with access to classified information, Clark did contract work for the Pentagon and received security clearances, and Stand became a left-wing labor activist who helped socialist John Sweeney take over the AFL-CIO. They were convicted in 1998 of conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of the old communist East German regime, the Soviet Union, Russia and South Africa.
The late Eric Breindel, who wrote extensively on intelligence matters, asked why the background checks on Clark and Squillacote didn’t reveal their far-left political orientation. He wonders whether Communist affiliations are a legitimate impediment to the granting of government security clearances. These communist agents were motivated not by money but by Marxism and hatred of America?something much in evidence at those “anti-war” demonstrations but largely unnoticed by the Times and other media.