Guess Who Wants To Help Big Brother?
One result of government-created
mass immigration in the wake of Sept. 11 is that
personal and civil liberties may dwindle as
"Homeland Security" swells.
Since there are
legal limits on what government agencies like the
FBI and the CIA can do to spy on the legal and
non-violent activities of Americans, however, Homeland
Security may come to include a few off-the-books
agencies as well as those supposedly on the books.
So-called "watchdog" groups like
Southern Poverty Law Center and the
Anti-Defamation League of B`nai B`rith rake in
millions every year for the purpose of "tracking" what
they call "extremist" activities—usually perfectly legal
bizarre political groups that the FBI and cops can`t
touch unless they`re suspected of committing crimes.
Now, in the case of the
Anti-Defamation League [ADL], a high-ranking official
has acknowledged that they essentially help the FBI
skirt the law and maybe even the Constitution.
David Friedman, director of the
ADL`s Washington office, told the press last week that
played a vital role protecting the homeland by providing
law enforcement officials with
valuable information about suspected terrorists."
described as the ADL`s "comprehensive database on
extremist groups" contains all sorts of good stuff
on Arabic and Muslim terrorist groups – as well as even
more stuff on "domestic terrorists, including
neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups."
guidelines and laws adopted in the 1970s, in the
wake of such episodes as
Watergate and various intelligence community
scandals, limits were established on what intelligence
agencies like the FBI and CIA could collect and how they
could collect it.
What the ADL is
acknowledging—perhaps unconsciously—is that it is
helping such agencies evade those laws.
Mr. Friedman claims that law
enforcement, including the FBI, which he admits the ADL
so burdened with the demands upon their time and so
spread thin that they don`t have the time to be studying
and searching for additional information."
He neglects to point out that it`s
actually illegal for the FBI and certain law enforcement
agencies even to have some kinds of "additional
information"—so the ADL collects and keeps it for them.
It`s far from clear how valuable
that kind of service is. In the first place, if American
voters and the Congress wanted these agencies to have
more resources to collect more information, they`d
probably provide it for them. Maybe they don`t want them
to have more on purpose, and maybe it`s not really the
business of the ADL to provide it anyway.
Moreover, what the ADL provides in
the way of "additional information" isn`t necessarily
what the FBI needs, nor is it always reliable. The ADL,
a Jewish organization, is understandably concerned
mainly about anti-Jewish extremism, but anti-Jewish
extremism may not be the biggest threat to the country
that the Bureau and the cops need to know about. There
are foreign terrorists, far-left terrorists, and
environmentalist and animal rights terrorists, and
there`s no reason to think that what the ADL can provide
the FBI about such groups is either more reliable or
more useful than what it can get for itself.
As for reliability, a federal
judge last year upheld most of
a $10-million lawsuit against the ADL for falsely
labelling a couple in Denver as "anti-Semites." A few
years ago, the ADL outraged many mainstream
conservatives by claiming that Pat Robertson`s
Christian Coalition was anti-Semitic and harbored
"Nazi sympathies," despite the Christian right`s
strong support for Israel.
Unlike public law enforcement and
intelligence agencies, the ADL doesn`t have to answer to
elected officials, so there`s no check on it. It can
slant the "intelligence" it peddles to push public
agencies in directions it wants them to go, not where
they should be going.
Even when their intelligence is
accurate, it still isn`t necessarily useful. Mr.
Friedman boasted that the ADL
That`s swell. But obviously, the
ADL`s spying didn`t help prevent the bombing – or even
help catch those who committed it. So what good is it?
The only good that groups like the
ADL seem to serve is their own, by impressing gullible
and terrified donors with all the secret inside dope
they rake up. By playing on the fears and fantasies of
such people, the "watchdog" groups have raised millions
The danger such groups present is
not only that their slanted "research" and
"intelligence" will misdirect and misinform professional
law enforcement and intelligence services, but also that
the law-abiding people they spy on and harass will wind
framed for thoughts they never thought and deeds
they never did.
October 28, 2002