Ibrahim, come in off that ledge.
Actually, this latest debacle for CAIR, following the disastrous Whitehead and Ballenger suits, involves CAIR-Canada. But I’m sure our friends in their parent group, CAIR-USA, are not thrilled with the outcome. David Harris is Director of the International and Terrorist Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. He is also a former Chief of Strategic Planning of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Here is a press release from Insignis:
ISLAMIC GROUP’S LAWSUIT AGAINST FORMER CSIS OFFICIAL IS DISMISSED
Statement by David B. Harris, Director
International and Terrorist Intelligence Program,
INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc.
24 April 2006
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN), the Canadian chapter of the controversial Washington, DC-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has recently issued a press release (attached) purporting to report the outcome of a defamation lawsuit in which I was a defendant. Readers are cautioned that the CAIR-CAN document is misleading in certain important respects.
CAIR-CAN and its then-Chair, Dr. Sheema Khan, sued Ottawa radio station CFRA and me for remarks I made as a regular CFRA national-security guest during an interview with host Mr. Steve Madely on 1 April 2004. At all relevant times, Mr. Riad Saloojee was Executive Director of CAIR-CAN. Dr. Khan and Mr. Saloojee have lately been replaced in their positions by Mr. Abdul-Basit Khan and Mr. Karl Nickner, respectively.
I believe implicitly in the accuracy of all that I said on the radio program. I have withdrawn not a word, and never shall. In the course of the interview I posed a question: Shouldn’t someone be looking into CAIR-CAN’s relationship with its more-troubling American relative, CAIR? For this, I was sued for libel.
In the spirit of openness and disclosure, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. is making available, on request, relevant legal documents concerning this case, including an unofficial transcript of the interview in question. This is being done so that media and other concerned citizens may satisfy themselves firsthand about the important issues at stake in this matter.
As a commentator on national security affairs, my guiding principle throughout CAIR-CAN”šs lawsuit was never to compromise hard-won rights of media and media commentators to their exercise of responsible free expression under s. 2 of Canada”šs Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I viewed this as a responsibility at a time when Canadians in Afghanistan and elsewhere are dying for such rights, and when civil liberties must be vigorously defended at home. Through the dedication of my family and many committed civil libertarians, including courageous colleagues of Muslim background, we prevailed against CAIR-CAN and Dr. Khan. CAIR-CAN and Dr. Khan dropped their suit, cold. No damages, no costs, no apology, no clarification.
It is for others to decide why CAIR-CAN balked at the prospect of proceeding to trial. It is unknown whether this unease stemmed from concern about the detailed review and disclosures that would derive from such proceedings. Or whether the collapse of its mother organization’s US$1.35 million libel case against the American Anti-CAIR organization (proprietor of http://anti-CAIR-net.org), played a part. We do not know whether it was the unearthing of a December 2003 court document in which Dr. Khan had sworn to CAIR-CAN”šs subsidiary status in relation to the troubling US CAIR group. Perhaps it was a concern that, on the witness stand, CAIR-CAN officials would be asked to answer the questions I had asked about that relationship on CFRA radio.
Whatever the truth, it is remarkable, in light of the dramatic indictment of my remarks in CAIR-CAN”šs very own Statement of Claim (see below), that CAIR-CAN so abjectly dropped its suit against me. My determined refusal to pen any “apology” or “clarification,” my refusal to pay damages, or any part of CAIR-CAN”šs legal costs or expenses, and my commitment through the present statement and other means to keep all of this transparent, paid off. This is a lesson to others in the media and elsewhere who face efforts to silence responsible questions.
Beyond this, certain features of the CAIR-CAN press release must be dealt with for the record.
The CAIR-CAN release boasts that “[f]ollowing the launch of the lawsuit, it appears that CFRA has not used Harris as a guest commentator since.” This is incorrect and seriously misleading. Indeed, I am pleased to report that I have appeared as a guest on several CFRA programs “following the launch of the lawsuit” and during the lawsuit period. Moreover, and following the Notice of Libel, Mr. Steve Winogron, CFRA Assistant Program Director and CHUM Ottawa News Director, advised me directly that the lawsuit altered nothing of CFRA/CHUM”šs longstanding and high regard for my reliability and analysis, and that I would continue to be a CFRA/CHUM guest — as, indeed, I have been.
I am also struck by CAIR-CAN’s assertion that the last word on the group’s lawsuit against distinguished Canadian journalist David Frum was an “editorial note” in the National Post. It is a matter of public record that Mr. Frum reasserted in at least one follow-on article, that he withdrew nothing he had written about CAIR and CAIR-CAN.
People of good faith must look carefully at the broader implications of all of this. In their Statement of Claim, CAIR-CAN chose to construe my question about its relationship with US CAIR, as implying that:
a. CAIR-CAN is an Islamist, extremist sympathetic group in Canada supporting terrorism;
b. Sheema Khan is an individual supporting Islamic, extremist causes, including the support of terrorism;
c. CAIR-CAN is a subsidiary of its parent organization, CAIR, which itself is an organization supporting terrorism and run by individuals convicted of terrorist-related offences. CAIR-CAN and CAIR share a common and inter-related goal of fostering their extremist views, and of supporting terrorism to achieve their objectives;
d. CAIR-CAN and Sheema Khan falsely and fraudulently misrepresent themselves as moderate representatives of Muslim interests;
e. CAIR-CAN and Sheema Khan are frightening moderate Islamists, and are driving young people into extremism;
f. CAIR-CAN and Sheema Khan, as extremists and supporters of terrorism, have an insidious and chilling agenda that is furthered by portraying themselves as moderates and gaining access first to the media and then to government;
g. Given their extremists [sic] views, CAIR-CAN and Sheema Khan should not have access to the media and government;
h. If CAIR-CAN and Sheema Khan continue to have access to the media and government, they will continue to alienate moderate Muslims and there will be some real tragedy;
i. The Globe and Mail acted irresponsibly in giving Sheema Khan an opportunity to be published in its newspaper, given that she is an extremist and terrorist supporter acting on behalf of CAIR-CAN, an extremist organization supporting terrorism;
j. The media, and most notably the CBC, has acted irresponsibly in providing CAIR-CAN with air-time, given CAIR-CAN’s extremism and support for terror; and
k. Committees of the House of Commons have acted irresponsibly in allowing CAIR-CAN, as an extremist organization supporting terrorism, to officially express its views, and further in giving credence to those views.
Yet, having formed that view of my question, CAIR-CAN dropped the suit and swallowed their costs. Why?
Hmmm. Why indeed? Ibrahim? Ibrahim? Nihad? Sheema? Anyone? Anyone?