While publicly promoting non-violent protest and humanitarian causes, the leaders of a prominent group that organized and participated in an anti-war demonstration at the U.S. Capitol are staunch supporters of terrorist groups and dictatorial regimes worldwide.
Saturday’s rally, which focused on opposition to a U.S.-led war against Iraq and drew 100,000 protesters, featured speeches by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, actress-activist Susan Sarandon, singer-songwriter Patti Smith, as well as a host of lesser-known figures.
The large turnout signals an invigoration of the anti-war movement, which has been increasingly dominated by the international A.N.S.W.E.R coalition, an organizational front group formed by the International Action Coalition. Closely allied with IAC is the World Workers Party, a quasi-Stalinist organization that supports authoritarian regimes and Communist dictatorships. Also at the forefront in the weekend demonstration and current anti-war protests was the “Not In Our Name” campaign started by Clark Kissinger of Refuse and Resist, an organization affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party USA, of which Kissinger is a member and writer for its newspaper.
The controversial ties of IAC remain almost completely unreported by the mainstream media, but increasingly are being exposed by a handful of enterprising Internet journalists, including Michelle Goldberg and Ian Williams of salon.com, Michael Tremoglie, Edward Immler and David Horowitz of Frontpagemagazine.com, and Christopher Hitchens, a 20-year veteran of The Nation magazine, now writing independently. The controversy has spread to the commentary pages of Mother Jones and has Justin Raimondo of antiwar.com crying foul while bemoaning his experiences at San Francisco’s “Baghdad-by-the-Bay.”
A small group of left-wing, right-wing and libertarian activists and writers now accuse the organization’s elite of being sellouts to foreign dictators while giving lip service to humanitarian concerns. They say this “patina of morality” obfuscates a surreptitious political agenda: the armed overthrow of the American republic.
Leading critics from both left and right now charge the leaders with supporting the very things they claim to be protesting.
“The International Action Coalition and the Revolutionary Workers Party [USA] aren’t just extremists in the service of a good cause,” says Michelle Goldberg , a writer with salon.com. “They are cheerleaders for some of the most sinister regimes and insurgencies on the planet.”
“Once people realize this,” Goldberg adds, “it could easily discredit any nascent anti-war movement, unless a more rational group comes to the forefront.”
Sock puppet for Saddam?
The founder of the IAC and director for A.N.S.W.E.R. is Ramsey Clark, who is introduced at IAC rallies as the former attorney general under the Lyndon Johnson administration. No mention is made of the fact that Clark, in his current occupation, serves as U.S. counsel for the state of Iraq. As such, no criticism of Saddam Hussein is ever aired at IAC/A.N.S.W.E.R.-controlled protest events. Nor is there any mention – or criticism of – Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds, invasion of Kuwait, murder of an estimated 1 million of his own people, environmental terrorism, imprisonment, torture or execution of political prisoners.
The suffering of the Iraqi people is blamed solely on the United States, just as the suffering of Palestinians is blamed solely on Israel.
IAC/A.N.S.W.E.R leaders have aligned themselves exclusively with pro-Arafat groups. The only Jewish people truly embraced as “brothers and sisters” are those who equally denounce Israel or deny Israel’s right to exist. A.N.S.W.E.R’s pro-Palestinian march in April seemed, in fact, little more than a thinly disguised public display of anti-Semitism masquerading as a “pro-Palestinian” march. Frequent mention was made at the march of a “supposed holocaust” and “genocide” in Jenin, despite the fact that New York Times reporters allowed into the area had discredited such reports as mere hearsay.
While consistently denouncing the “Israeli terrorist state,” IAC leadership, headed by Clark, have defended dictator Slobodan Milosevic and convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, whom Clark defended in a New York civil suit brought by Bosnian rape victims.
Indeed, Clark also has been retained by Serbia as U.S. counsel. Accordingly, no outrage over Serbian ethnic cleansing or rapes will ever be heard at an IAC/ANSWER rally. Nor will mention be made of the siege of Sarajevo, the killings at Srebrenica or the million homeless refugees. Clark and the IAC make no mention of the tortures held at the Serbian police station on Cacak Street in central Pristina. The scene was discovered by British paratroopers and the media, who described “a bed, with leather straps, its ratty yellow mattress plunged through with bayonet and bullet holes, and clothes of its victims piled in the corner.” Reporter Lauren Rozen described it as a “house of torture” still reeking of “rotting human flesh” where Kosovo Albanians, many of them teen-agers and children, were brutally raped, beaten and killed. Stashed on the scene were all manner or torture instruments, as well as violent pornography.
Nevertheless, Clark was introduced to an adulating crowd at Saturday’s rally as a “man of extraordinary principle and conscience.”
Detractors from both the left and the right denounce Clark for his “straightforward dishonesty,” calling him the “tyrant in chief,” a “traitor” and “the international war criminal’s best friend.”
Overall, IAC considers the U.S. to be the foremost terrorist threat to the world and has claimed that Osama bin Laden was the victim of an imperialist American plot. Brian Becker, member of the secretariat of the World Workers Party, national co-director for the IAC and a member of the national A.N.S.W.E.R. steering committee, is admired by the North Korean dictatorship for his loyalty to their state as well. At a press conference in Pyongyang, Becker denounced the U.S. for “mercilessly killing innocent people.”
In May of 2001, F.B.I. Director Louis Freeh labeled the World Workers Party a “potential threat in the U.S.”
A ‘really beautiful thing’?
Especially prominent at Saturday’s rally was the “Not In Our Name” campaign, which ran a large ad in the New York Times and whose slogan was central to IAC speakers. At least one member of the media labeled the campaign a “really beautiful thing.”
Started by Kissinger, the ad was lauded by Hartford Courant writer Frank Rizzo, who quoted the activist as saying: “People have been longing for this. It’s a statement that basically repudiates the whole direction of things. It’s about American empire-building.”
Frontpagemagazine.com writer Michael Tremoglie laments Rizzo’s failure to inform readers of Kissinger or his organization: “The same journalists who will be more than happy to tell their readers that a group is related to, or receives funds from, say the NRA or the Christian Coalition or the dreaded Scaife Foundation, will never mention the relationship of a liberal group with communist organizations – even if such organizations are labeled terrorist by the FBI,” says Tremoglie.
Kissinger’s Refuse and Resist runs information releases from the Revolutionary Communist Party USA on its site. The following are some of the goals/ideologies of the party as expressed in the party’s newspaper:
- Its ideology is Maoist/Leninist/ Marxist communism, and its capstone program for the U.S. is called “Create Public Opinion – Seize Power.”
- Party members are to anticipate and plan for “a future armed uprising” and a “civil war” in the U.S. primed by “a major crack in the system” – a destabilizing event that will enable the RWP to “seize power” and replace the American government with a “Communist proletarian dictatorship.” Says RWP, “We are preparing minds and organizing forces for the time” – a time when “revolutionary crisis breaks out.”
Central to this plan is a stated effort to convince Americans that their government is illegitimate and therefore can and should be overthrown and its institutions seized. At Saturday’s rally, Clark labeled President Bush’s foreign policy “criminal offenses, they are high crimes, they are indictable offenses, and they are impeachable offenses.”
Repeated throughout the rally was the notion that the American government as a whole had lost its legitimacy, and leaders called on protesters “to seize all the major institutions,” “to take democracy back” and “occupy the Capitol,” a clarion call with obviously widely different meanings for different groups.
- The RCP expects to follow Lenin in confrontation of “economic relations with employers” or “immediate exploiters and oppressors.”
- Currently they are working to “spread our influence through society, especially where people are protesting or rebelling.”
- The eruption of an “actual crisis” is anticipated as the pivot point for the activities of the RWP. This is where “the authority of the ruling class and both its right and its ability to rule are called fundamentally into question.” It adds that the “crisis will be marked by sharp divisions within the ruling class itself, reaching into its major pillars of power, including the armed forces.”
- While this civil war is said to usher in a “global community of freely associating individuals,” whites will not have the same rights of association as minorities. The program calls for allowing “people of color” to “just live around other people of their race” if they desire, but a similar allowance will “not be [made] for white people.”
- While the Associated Press reported that the Maoist guerilla-led insurgency in Nepal left hundreds dead, the RWP called the bloody uprising “glorious” – a far cry from the anti-violence rhetoric of Saturday’s rally.
- In addition, the RWP supports the maniacally brutal “Shining Path” of Peru. The RWP website boasts of killings perpetrated by Shining Path members and notes “rulers in Peru fear the Maoist People’s Party.” The approved killings include those of police, army personnel and any who disagree with the Shining Path.
In a Workingforchange.com article, writer Geov Parrish recalls Kissinger, identified as a “core member” of the RWP: “I still have vivid memories of Kissinger explaining calmly to me why when the RCP took over it would be necessary to shoot everyone who didn’t agree with them.”
9-11: ‘Nothing personal’
Ramsey Clark associate Lynne Stewart, labeled by detractors as “the terrorist lawyer,” is also an influential presence at IAC events. A civil-rights attorney, Stewart was recruited by Clark to defend the “blind Sheik” Omar Abdel Kahman, later convicted as being the mastermind of the 1993 World Center bombings and the planner behind the proposed bombings of the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.
In April of this year, Stewart was handcuffed outside her Brooklyn apartment and indicted on two charges of lying to the government and two charges of aiding a terrorist organization. The charges stemmed from recorded conversations between Stewart and her client. Attorney General John Ashcroft charged Stewart knowingly participated in aiding the sheik in communicating with an Egyptian terrorist organization. She denied the charges, but Stewart’s reputation was badly damaged when the supposedly sealed affidavit for a search warrant was leaked to Court TV and posted on their thesmokinggun.com website. Included were transcripts of the wiretaps that revealed Stewart knowingly allowed the sheik, in violation of federal law, to dictate information to be passed to terrorists, while joking she should “get an acting award” for fooling prison guards into thinking she was engaged in a legal lawyer-client conversation.
At Saturday’s rally, Stewart gleefully joined protesters in a chant of “Ashcroft sucks! Ashcroft sucks!” She portrayed the attorney general as the real threat to America, denouncing his Patriot Act as a profound and unforgivable violation of civil rights.
In addition to speaking at IAC-led protests advocating “non-violent” resistance, Stewart had this to say in a 1995 New York Times interview: “I don’t believe in anarchist violence, but in directed violence. That would be violence directed at the institutions who perpetrate capitalism, racism and sexism, and the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions.”
In a recent New York Times article, author George Packer wrote about Stewart’s attitude toward 9-11: “When the towers fell, she felt that her city had been violated and her own life disrupted. But this warm-hearted woman took the slaughter of innocents with a certain cold-bloodedness. The Pentagon was a ‘better target’; the people in the towers ‘never knew what hit them. … They took it personally. And actually, it wasn’t a personal thing.’”
Packer continued, “As for civilian deaths in general: [Stewart said] ‘I’m pretty inured to the notion that in a war or in an armed struggle, people die. They’re in the wrong place. … So I have a lot of trouble figuring out why that is wrong, especially when people are placed in a position of having no other way.’ Stewart doubts the government’s version of Osama bin Laden, nor does she find him too ‘repugnant’ to represent.”
Writer Michael Tremoglie comments, “Obviously, Stewart’s worldview meshes seamlessly with that of Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat, the blind Sheik and Osama bin Laden. And with that of … Brain Becker, Ramsey Clark and the World Workers Party.”
He adds, “There are many legitimate defense attorneys who provide legal defenses for clients with whom they do not themselves sympathize. Lynne Stewart, Ramsey Clark are not among them.”
If convicted Stewart faces 40 years in prison.
‘Morally tainted’ leadership
Michelle Goldberg of salon.com contends that the political views of the anti-war protest leaders are “anathema” to most Americans. Todd Gitlin, author of “The Sixties: Years of Hope, Years of Rage,” agrees.
Currently a Columbia University professor, the former president of Students for a Democratic Society fears the hypocrisy will result in a “gigantic ruination of the anti-war movement.” Gitlin prefers peaceful and informative debates and “teach-ins” where all are allowed (and expected) to present honest, rational arguments for their views.
“They should be holding debates,” contends Gitlin, “not rallies of the faithful.”
“Clark and others of his mindset are not only morally tainted,” adds the professor, “they’re doomed. And the anti-war movement is doomed if they’re allowed to lead it.”
“This will not play in Peoria,” warns Gitlin, “It does not deserve to play in Washington.”