Michael Savage (San Francisco Chronicle)
A Clinton-appointed federal judge ruled in favor of Michael Savage today in an attempt by the Council on American-Islamic Relations to extract attorney fees and costs in a case the nationally syndicated talk radio host brought against the Muslim lobby group.
“This is a huge victory for me, personally, but also for the rest of America who is afraid of this lawsuit-happy group of intimidators,” Savage said.
Judge Susan Illston of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California previously dismissed Savage’s copyright infringement and RICO lawsuit against CAIR. Savage alleged CAIR illegally published singled-out quotes and audio excerpts from his show regarding Islam, misappropriated his words and used the clips for its own fundraising purposes, damaging the value of his copyrighted material.
Savage noted Illston is a “bona fide liberal, yet she followed the law in the fees motion.”
“CAIR tried to tell her in their claim that she ‘should get’ me, because they were all liberals,” he said. “You have to read their sloppy claim to believe it. Now, people will not be afraid to file suits if they have a legitimate claim against CAIR or any other Soros-funded group.”
CAIR last year waged a public campaign using excerpted Savage remarks to urge advertisers to boycott his top-rated program. CAIR stated its campaign successfully resulted in Savage losing $1 million in advertising.
Part of Savage’s lawsuit alleged CAIR received millions in foreign funding and that the Islamic group may have been wrongfully acting as a lobbyist or agent for a foreign government, violating its nonprofit status.
Savage also alleged CAIR was engaged in racketeering, describing the group as a “mouthpiece of international terror” that helped fund the 9/11 attacks, a contention strongly denied by CAIR.
But Illston threw out the case in July, arguing it is legal to use excerpts of a public broadcast for purposes of comment and criticism.
Illston, nominated to her position by President Bill Clinton, wrote in her ruling that Savage could try to rewrite the racketeering portion of his suit to better fit the specifics of his case.
In May 2007, CAIR was identified by the government as an unindicted co-conspirator in a case involving the Holy Land Foundation, a charity allegedly affiliated with Hamas. Federal prosecutors listed CAIR under the category: “Individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the US Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and/or its organizations.”
The government also listed Omar Ahmad, CAIR’s founder and chairman emeritus, under the same category.
CAIR is registered as a nonprofit organization recognized as tax-exempt under IRS codes, which restrict “lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.” CAIR’s website claims it receives no foreign government support.
But CAIR’s headquarters near the U.S. Capitol until recently was owned by the ruler of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the ruler’s foundation has pledged $50 million to capitalize a long-term CAIR public-relations campaign.
The UAE formally recognized the Taliban, and Dubai reportedly acted as the transit point for cash for the 9/11 hijackers. Two of the hijackers were from the Emirates, and one served in the UAE military.
Until 2005, the Al Maktoum Foundation run by Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid held the deed to CAIR’s headquarters just three blocks from the Capitol. The same foundation reportedly has held telethons to raise money for families of Palestinian “martyrs” during the intifada – or terrorist war – started in September 2000 against Israel. It recently pledged a $50 million endowment for CAIR.
CAIR argues that any assertions it receives money from foreign governments is “disinformation.”
“This is yet another attempt to invent a controversy,” the group said. “CAIR’s operational budget is funded by donations from American Muslims.”
CAIR, however, has never publicly acknowledged $1 million controlling interest that the ruler of Dubai’s foundation took in its national headquarters just one year after 9/11.
The group also received $500,000 from Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, the sheik whose $10 million relief check after 9/11 was rejected by then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani after he blamed U.S. policy toward Israel for the attacks.
“There is nothing criminal or immoral about accepting donations from foreign nationals,” CAIR asserted. “The U.S. government, corporations and non-profit organizations routinely receive money from foreign nationals.”
“Bin Talal is not a member of the Saudi Arabian government,” the group added in a statement. “He is a private entrepreneur and international investor.”
This may be a distinction without a difference, Savage’s lawyers argue, since bin Talal is a member of the Saudi ruling family.
“CAIR is proud to receive support of every individual,” CAIR argued, “as long as they are not an official of any foreign government and there are no strings attached to the bequest.”
The UAE endowment to CAIR was specifically earmarked for public relations efforts to repair the image of Arabs and Muslims in America after public outrage doomed a Dubai bid to run U.S. ports.
Lawyers for Savage argue that CAIR may have used UAE funds and other foreign support to attack the radio host.