Starting about a year ago, CAIR has been turning to courts in the United States and Canada to silence its critics. Here are cases I know of:
- Hussam Ayloush vs. Shawn Steel and National Review. The article at issue made a mistake about Ayloush, which the author and publisher retracted, but still they were sued. Strictly speaking, this is not a CAIR case, as Ayloush undertook the lawsuit in his personal capacity. National Review posted information on this case today, explaining how it saw this action as "an attempt to intimidate and punish" and revealing that it spent $65,000 in its successful defense.
- United States vs. Dale T. Ehrgott. I am involved in this case and am deferring a report on it until it is resolved. For an idea of the issues at hand, see a story by the Associated Press. Jan. 18, 2005 update: I reported on this case today, explaining how Ehrgott ended up with one year's probation and 50 hours of community service.
- CAIR vs. Cass Ballenger. Ballenger, a North Carolina Republican congressman, called CAIR "the fund-raising arm for Hezbollah" and raised the possibility that it would try to blow up the Capitol Building. CAIR responded with a $2 million defamation suit. March 31, 2005 update: CAIR's effort to block the freedom of speech of an elected representative was thrown out of court by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon. Ballenger's response? "Happy days are here again." Nov. 18, 2005 update: An analysis in the Boston Phoenix of the Islamic Society of Boston's libel lawsuit mentions in passing that CAIR is appealing the dismissal of the Ballenger suit. Mar. 24, 2006 update: CAIR's lawyer, Jeremiah Denton III, appeared before a federal appeals court panel last week to argue that its case against Ballenger should be reinstated. Apr. 11, 2006 update: A three-judge federal appeals court panel in Washington (made up of David Sentelle, Judith Rogers, and Thomas Griffith) ruled unanimously to uphold Leon's March 2005 decision to dismiss CAIR's case.
- CAIR vs. Andrew Whitehead. I covered this case in some detail in "Why Is CAIR Suing Anti-CAIR?" In brief, CAIR is suing the founder of Anti-CAIR for about $1.5 million. July 28, 2005 update: Sharon Chadha and I provide information on an amended motion by CAIR in this case at "CAIR Founded by 'Islamic Terrorists'?" Mar. 23, 2006 update: Whitehead reports today on his website that his "CAIR lawsuit is over, and has been dismissed, as the parties have reached a mutually agreeable settlement." He adds that "The policies and procedures of Anti-CAIR (ACAIR) have not changed in any way as a result of the CAIR lawsuit settlement." Apr. 21, 2006 update: I review the ending of this case at "CAIR Backs Down from Anti-CAIR."
- CAIR-Canada vs. CFRA and David Harris. Harris, a former Canadian Security and Intelligence Service agent, mentioned on April 1, 2004, on radio station CFRA's morning show, "Madeley in the Morning," that "there are a number of officials and former officials of CAIR-USA who are now in custody and who are serving sentences on terrorist-related offences, to which. I might add, they have pleaded guilty." Harris called on the Globe and Mail, where Sheema Khan of CAIR's Canadian office writes regular column, "to at least clarify where exactly CAIR-Canada fits in this larger picture." On June 24, 2004 CAIR in Canada sued Harris and CFRA for libel. Apr. 12, 2006 update: The case was dismissed today by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice without costs. Harris commented to me that "CAIR-CAN got no apology, no 'clarification,' and, most certainly, no money." He also pointed out that "CAIR-CAN's rather exaggerated claims of what I said make a nice juxtaposition with its cold dropping of the case. It quite obviously didn't fancy a messy court episode. I asked an important question of public interest, and got a law suit in response. Now, it's time for some answers." Apr. 24, 2006 update: Harris has provided a public statement about the ending of his case, "Islamic Group's Lawsuit against Former CSIS Official Is Dismissed," that provides much additional information about it and CAIR's dissimulation concerning its outcome.
Comment: CAIR's strategy in the three cases undertaken in its own name is not quite clear, for intimidation is balanced by discovery. Lawyers with theories on this subject are urged to send them to me. (September 13, 2004)
Nov. 23, 2004 update: David Frum reports today on a pending new case of libel:
David Frum and Canada's National Post newspaper: The Canadian branch of CAIR served them two weeks ago with a notice of libel (which Frum explains is "a warning of a lawsuit to come"). CAIR accuses Frum of having written previously in the National Post an article that characterizes CAIR (in the words of the notice served on him) as "an unscrupulous, Islamist, extremist sympathetic group in Canada supporting terrorism." Sep. 17, 2005 update: A brief "Editor's Note" published in today's National Post settles this case. Oct. 4, 2005 update: Frum adds some comments about the settlement in the National Post, "Alienating the Base."
Dec. 16, 2004 update: I have uncovered another case of a threatened libel suit by CAIR:
- Sara Townsley and the Cornell Daily Sun: Townsley, a columnist of the Cornell University student newspaper, on Oct. 19, 2004 wrote an article, "A Vote for Kerry is a Vote for the Enemy," in which she stated that CAIR officials "have defended suicide bombers, funneled money to Hamas, and at least five of its leaders have been deported, indicted, or convicted on terrorism charges." CAIR responded that same day with an accusatory letter ("Ms. Townsley uses regurgitated smears against CAIR from right-wing websites and noted Islamophobes such as Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson") that also demanded the column's immediate removal, apologies for "these vicious attacks," and permission for CAIR to submit an oped. The CAIR letter also threatened that "If you elect to publish or distribute this confidential letter to any person or entity in any form; suit will be filed forthwith." Andy Guess, editor-in-chief of the Cornell Daily Sun, responded on Oct. 25 by denying any infraction and offering CAIR just a letter-to-the-editor for its response. On Oct. 26, CAIR harrumphed back that its "mentioning a possibly impending lawsuit is not merely a hollow gesture on our part"; but nearly two months have passed and apparently no suit has been filed.
Dec. 30, 2004 update: What goes around comes around. CAIR is not only the plaintiff, suing others left and right, but also the defendant in a least two lawsuits:
- Andrew Whitehead vs. CAIR. CAIR initiated a suit against Anti-CAIR's founder and he responded with a countersuit of his own; it was, however, dismissed.
- Estate of John P. O'Neill, Sr. et al. vs. Al Baraka Investment and Development Corporation. I document today the specifics of a class action lawsuit stemming from the 9/11 attacks fingering CAIR as a defendant.
Aug. 6, 2005 update: Max Oakley, 60, of Toledo, Ohio, has admitted having sent an e-mail to CAIR's Washington headquarters on July 29, threatening to blow it up. CAIR took the letter to the FBI and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department; Oakley, a Vietnam veteran, was arrested yesterday. Aug. 12, 2005 update: Oakley was released after spending a week in jail. July 21, 2006 update: CAIR announced today that Oakley was sentenced to three years probation and fined $1,000.
Oct. 4, 2005 update: CAIR announced today the ambitious fundraising goal in October 2005 of raising $1 million in one month, in part to "defend against defamatory attacks on Muslims and Islam."
Dec. 9, 2005 update: Rabiah Ahmed of CAIR has acknowledged that lawsuits are increasingly an "instrument" for it to use. "The Muslim community realizes that it has to respond to these allegations and to these attacks, otherwise, the people who are promoting these defamatory remarks will win in the court of public opinion."
Mar. 18, 2006 update: The current issue of the Arab American News (undated on the website) quotes the new head of CAIR's Michigan office, Dawud Walid, saying that under his tenure, CAIR's approach will be focused on the principle that "education is superior to litigation." Does this suggest a change for the organization as a whole or just that one branch? To be watched.
Apr. 12, 2006 update: With the collapse of the Whitehead suit on March 23, the failed appeal against Ballenger yesterday, and the settlement with Harris today, the three extant CAIR cases have collapsed; so far as I know, the organization is no longer engaged as plaintiff in litigation. This string of failures would seem to confirm Dawud Walid's comment (above) that "education is superior to litigation."
June 5, 2007 update: For an interpretation of the legal jihad waged by CAIR and others, see my article "Islamists in the Courtroom."
Aug. 30, 2010 update: It's not quite the same as a lawsuit but CAIR has re-entered the courtroom after several years' absence by filing a discrimination complaint against the Illinois State Police on behalf of Kifah Mustapha, a Chicago imam who was slated to become an ISP chaplain until the police force did some due diligence and revoked the offer.
Related Topics: Council on American-Islamic Relations
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