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Are you being watched? Is information about your First Amendment activitiesbeing sent covetly to alien intelligence agencies? Have secret files beencompiled on you? A major scandal, centered around ex-San Francisco PoliceInspector Tom Gerard, a shadowy character named Roy Bullock, and the Anti-DefamationLeague of B'nai B'rith (ADL) suggests that American liberals, and others,may be under surveillance. Evidence seized by the police indicates thatnumerous progressives activists, newspapers, elected officials, and laborunions-are the targets of a domestic snooping operation. Its legality, andscope, are now being tested and examined in a civil rights case filed ina state court in San Francisco.
Gerard has been charged in San Francisco with theft of government propertyand conspiracy. He is suspected of having collected privileged materialon many residents and organizations in the Bay Area. He turned the informationover to Bullock. Gerard was introduced to Bullock in the San Francisco officeof the ADL. An antique dealer, Bullock, has been the ADL's top "investigator"for more than three decades. The ADL paid him over $170,000 between 1985and 1992 for his cloak-and-dagger work.
Bullock liked to pick through the garbage of his victims, and once infiltratedan Arab-American delegation that visited Rep.
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in her Washington, D.C. Office. (Pelosi is the daughterof Baltimore's late Mayor Thomas J. D'Alesandro, Sr.) According to a LosAngeles Times article (04/09/93), Bullock worked as a paid informant forthe FBI, as well as the ADL. On April 8, 1993, police carried out a fivehour raid of the ADL offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles. They discoveredthe ADL had copies of computer files on 12,000 Americans and more than 950groups. According to police reports and court documents, Bullock acknowledgedhe obtained the information from Gerard, who traded police files, criminalhistories and license plate numbers in exchange for Bullock's data on so-calledextremist groups. It is feared by some that this confidential informationmay have been filtered to spook networks in Israel, South Africa, and theUnited Kingdom. Gerard had tied earlier in his career to the CIA.
The ADL boasts of keeping its eye on extreme right-wing groups, likethe Skinheads, the Klu Klux Klan, and Aryan Nations. Their role in thismess indicates they may have reached too far in search for "Anti-Semites."Police found files on the African National Congress: the ACLU: Irish Americans;the United Auto Workers; AIDS activist groups like ACT-UP; Mother Jonesmagazine; Pacifica News Network; Lesbian Agenda for Action; Greenpeace;Christic Institute; Rep. Roy Dellums (D-CA); the National Lawyers Guild;NAACP; CISPES; Carpenters Local 22; Jews for Jesus; and many Arab and Palestinianindividuals and organizations. The ADL had denied any wrongdoing in thegrowing scandal. Gerard has pleaded "not guilty" and releasedon $20,000 bail. Bullock has not been charged. The probe is continuing.Abraham Foxman, the head of the ADL, lashed out at the San Francisco districtattorney for "trying us in the media, " according to an interviewhe gave to the Northern California Bulletin, a local Jewish weekly. Foxmansaid the ADL would continue to monitor people or groups that "posea threat to Jews" and defended the organization's probe of the AfricanNational Congress on grounds the ANC "were violent, they were anti-Semitic,they were pro-PLO, and they were anti-Israel." (See The WashingtonReport on the Middle East magazine,08/93).
The ADL was founded in 1913 for the declared purpose of defending Jewsagainst "defamation." For the most part, their record over theyears has been a laudable one. During the Reagan years, however, the ADLmade a noticeable turn to the Right. Dr. Alfred M. Lilienthal, a respectedauthor and anti-Zionist, said, "What exactly constitutes anti-Semitismwas to receive continually different interpretations. With the creationof Israel in 1948, the meaning of the word was broadened and eventually,totally distorted." (The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,07/93). Irwin Suall presently runs the ADL's "fact finding" divisionout of their national office at the United Nations Plaza in Manhattan. Itoperates in all 50 states and has 31 regional offices, and it works closelywith state and federal police forces. It has over 400 employees and an annualbudget of around $32 million.
In a memo dated July, 1992, Suall praised Roy Bullock as "our numberone investigator." He was also quoted as saying that the real enemiesof the Jews are on the "American Left." (Robert I. Friedman's'The Enemy Within', Village Voice, 05/11/93).
On April 8, 1993, a detailed report on this brouhaha was presented on ABC's"Nightly News" before a national audience estimated at over 18million. This expose first ran in the print media in the San Francisco Examinerand was later taken up by the Los Angeles Times. Alexander Cockburn hasbeen doing a running and biting commentary on it in the pages of The Nation.In his riveting account of the affair, Friedman made this damning statement:"Once a proud human rights organization, the ADL had become the JewishThought Police." The ADL sharply disagrees with that assessment. Theysee themselves as an altruistic human rights organization dedicated to watchingout for the kooks and fringe groups in our society.
Ex-US Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-CA) has filed a class action lawsuit in a Californiacourt against the ADL, charging invasion of privacy. His name also appearsin the data base, along with that of his wife. McCloskey has been a persistentcritic of Israel's brutal suppression of the 1.8 million Palestinians languishingin the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The son of the former Israeli DefenseMinister Moshe Arens, Yigal Arens, is also a plaintiff in the suit. Arenssupports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "TheADL believes,"said Arens, "that anyone who is an Arab-Americanor who speaks politically against Israel is at least a closet anti-Semite."(See also, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, (06/93).
The civil suit claims that the ADL collected information on opponentsof Israeli and South African government policies and passed it on to thosecountries. The ADL has denied all the charges in the suit and has promiseda vigorous defense. It says it does not condone illegal methods of obtaininginformation. Bullock had his computer-based data divided into four categories: "Right Wing", "Pinkos", "Arab and Skinhead"organizations. About 4,000 of the files are on Arab-Americans; the restare on groups and individuals as diverse as the Assembly of Jesus; BoycottCoke; Black United Fund; the Weatherman Underground; and the United FarmWorkers. Bullock admits to selling some of his ADL files on anti-Apartheidactivists to South African intelligence agents. He also had ties to a groupof informants across the country with code names, like "Scumbag","Ironside", and "Flipper".
Attorney Marc Van de Hout of the National Lawyers Guild, which is listedin the ADL's files, said, "I am a Jew myself, and when I see the breathof the organizations in these files that the ADL has conducted surveillanceon, it is very clear that they have sort of lost touch with reality in termsof organizations that are engaged in real anti-Semitic activity." (SeeWashington Report, 08/93). As Doug Struck's recent insightful reportingin the Baltimore Sun amply demonstrates, the Israeli crackdown in the occupiedterritories has resulted in gross abuses of human rights, including the"torture of Palestinian prisoners." Americans should have theright to complain about Israeli wrongdoing, about their huge annual raidson our national treasury ($11.3 billion in 1993), or their controversialtrial of John Demjanjuk, without ending up in a file of the ADL or undersurveillance. I think it is wrong for the ADL, or any other private group,to appoint itself as the pseudo-guardian of our civil liberties. The ADL,however, like any other defendant, is entitled to its day in court and topresent its side of this mounting controversy to an objective fact finder.
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