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Ms. Lee goes to Washington

This is not exactly your Jimmy Stewart-style “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” story. It’s about a pal of longtime Communist Party militant Angela Davis who ran for a seat in the Congress of the United States of America — and won.

Barbara Lee paid her political dues — first as an aide to Rep. Ron “Red” Dellums and later as a California assemblywoman and state senator. But, in the shadow of another special election which will send Sonny Bono’s widow, Mary, to the House of Representatives, Lee, too, has won the brass ring as a newly elected member of that once-august body.

As I first reported in 1993, Lee served on the national coordinating committee of the “Committees of Correspondence,” an organization that splintered from the Communist Party USA in 1991. Davis, the three-time Communist Party candidate for vice president of the United States, served by her side.

Earlier, while working with Dellums, she joined the U.S.-Grenada Friendship Society, a front group supporting the Communist dictatorship of Maurice Bishop, a close ally of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Just months before the U.S. invasion that toppled Bishop in 1983, Lee and Dellums visited the island on official business of the House Armed Services Committee to gauge the military threat posed to the United States by an international airport being built there by Cubans. According to documents captured by U.S. military forces in Grenada, Lee personally presented Bishop’s Politburo with a draft of Dellums’ report before it was presented to his congressional committee.

What would you call that? In a “less-enlightened” time, we might refer to such an action as treason. But it didn’t do anything to slow the political careers of either Lee or her mentor. Dellums went on to become chairman of the committee so vital to national security. Lee went on to become a member of the California Legislature.

But there’s even more to this horror story. The minutes of a Politburo meeting held in 1982 say Lee actually encouraged the Communist government to make a revision in the report to minimize the military significance of the airport.

Less than a year later, the captured documents reveal, Lee helped coordinate a tour of the West Coast for Ian Jacobs, Grenada’s deputy U.N. ambassador, as part of a propaganda offensive “to counterattack President Reagan’s verbal attack on Grenada.” Once again, Angela Davis was by her side.

President Reagan later ordered an invasion of the island when U.S. medical students were taken hostage by the little police state. When U.S. Marines landed, they were met with armed resistance not from local forces but from Cuban infantry regulars.

Lee’s friendly relations with Cuba date back even further. In 1979, while on Dellums’ staff, she traveled to Havana to attend a conference of “non-aligned nations,” a Cold War euphemism for countries aligned with the Soviet Union. She attended the conference not as an employee of the federal government, which she was, but rather claiming to be a journalist for the left-wing alternative San Francisco paper, the Sun-Reporter.

Lee declined to answer questions about her Communist connections, but after my original story about her shady activities broke, she threatened to sue me for libel. When her attorney was reminded that truth is still an absolute defense against libel under the First Amendment, the threats ceased.

As a California legislator, Lee had an opportunity to sponsor mischievous laws, but she couldn’t really undermine America’s national security, as she certainly did while serving on Dellums’ staff. Now, however, she is a member of an elite club — one that receives classified intelligence briefings, votes on sensitive military expenditures and, at least constitutionally, decides when the nation goes to war.

This is the new face of America’s Democratic Party. Won’t you sleep better tonight knowing she’s in Washington safeguarding your country’s freedom? And aren’t you glad we have an opposition party that doesn’t blow the cover off the records of such officials or even bother to run serious candidates against them?

If such practices continue, some day, even the First Amendment won’t protect us anymore.