Printer Friendly

Fact collecting or spying?

A WIDE-RANGING investigation of the Anti-Defamation League has turned up allegations of a spying operation that targeted certain newspapers and journalists among some 500 U.S. political and ethnic groups.

Armed with search warrants, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office recently seized records at ADL offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles in connection with the suspected illegal gathering of intelligence on a total of 12,000 individuals and organizations, according to an affidavit by the San Francisco Police Department.

Among the media organizations and journalists named in the files, police said, are the San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Bay Guardian and staff member Tim Redmond; Philadelphia Inquirer; Mother Jones magazine; the Bay Area Reporter, a gay weekly; Center for Investigative Reporting, based in San Francisco; Los Angeles Times South Africa correspondent Scott Kraft and an unnamed Times reporter.

They allegedly were among such ADL surveillance targets as the NAACP; Greenpeace; Jewish Defense League; Arab-American organizations; KQED, a public television station in San Francisco; Mills College in Oakland; the African National Congress; United Farm Workers; labor unions; several members of Congress; Jews for Jesus; the Asian Law Caucus; the American Civil Liberties Union and the AIDS activist group ACT UP.

From its national headquarters in New York, ADL national chairman Melvin Salberg and national director Abraham H. Foxman issued a statement strongly denying that the league did anything wrong.

Founded in 1913, ADL, an arm of the Jewish organization B'nai B'rith, has reported the doings and statements of neo-Nazi and other anti-Semitic and racist groups. Its information often has been used by news organizations, the FBI, police departments and other governmental units.

In recent years, however, ADL has crossed the line into illegal activity, Inspector Ronald Roth of the San Francisco Police Department's Special Investigations Division told E&P.

Although no charges against ADL or any of its officers had been filed at this writing, Roth said the probe could lead to charges of possession of stolen property, tax evasion, unauthorized possession of confidential information and-conspiracy, all felonies.

Among individuals being investigated, Roth said, were San Francisco ADL executive director Richard Hirschhaut and regional director David Lehrer in Los Angeles.

At the core of the district attorney's investigation is Roy Bullock, a 58-year-old San Francisco art dealer, who admits being an ADL "contract worker" since 1954 and is said to have also done undercover jobs for the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

In his work for the ADL, police said, Bullock hired operatives with such code names as Scumbag, Scout and Hot Spurs.

Bullock, whose computer disks and computer were seized by police, scoffed at the claim by authorities that he has gathered data on 12,000 people since 1986.

"That would be a physical impossibility," he responded in an interview with E&P. He also denied that "I spied on anyone," contending he was merely doing legitimate fact collecting for ADL.

Bullock, who is not Jewish, said he began with ADL as a volunteer but now is paid $550 a week by an ADL lawyer.

"I've been asked why I do this, since I'm not Jewish," he stated, "but does one have to be Jewish to be against anti-Semitism, fascism, racism and homophobia? I'm not doing this for the money."

In the interview, Bullock acknowledged that he had amassed information on media groups and journalists. He recited the aforementioned names from memory, adding, "There are others but since the police have got my files I can't give you any more now."

In most cases, Bullock said, his files consisted of clippings from newspapers and magazines. However, Roth said Bullock has boasted about his ability to infiltrate various organizations as an undercover agent.

"He also told us that he often rifled through trash bins for material, wrote down the license plate numbers of cars at political meetings, and solicited information from law enforcement officers," the investigator said.

Asked why Kraft was included, Bullock said he had scissored out some of Kraft's stories and sent them to a contact -- with the code name Louie -- in South Africa with a notation that they seemed examples of well-balanced reporting.

The contact, Bullock went on, then asked for information about Krafts alleged girlfriend in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Times foreign editor Alvin Shuster said that Bullock had "got the wrong Scott Kraft." He pointed out that the Times' Kraft, who is still reporting from South Africa, does not fit the physical description provided by Bullock and that the Times correspondent "has no girlfriend and is living with his wife and children in Johannesburg."

According to police, Bullock and a former San Francisco police officer and CIA agent, Tom Gerard, sold information to the South African government. Gerard, a mysterious figure who has been the subject of several San Francisco newspaper stories, fled to the Philippines last fall. He is accused of supplying confidential police information to the ADL in cooperation with Bullock.

Bruce B. Brugmann, editor and publisher of the alternative San Francisco Bay Guardian, said he had no idea why his paper was on Bullock's list.

"I guess they put us in the |Pinko' class," he commented jokingly.

Police said Bullock and Gerard used data bases divided into five categories: Arab, Pinko, Right, Skins and ANC, the latter standing for the African National Congress.

Roth said police also found in ADL's San Francisco offices a manila folder labeled "Operation Eavesdrop" containing Bullock's computer data.

In its statement, the ADL denounced reports of its alleged spying as "distorted and misleading."

The statement acknowledges that Bullock has been an "independent contractor" for the ADL, but added that it has "absolutely no knowledge or involvement" with any surveillance activity by Gerard or that it has acted as a conduit to any foreign government.

Salberg and Foxman further denied ADL has ever targeted such groups as the NAACP, Greenpeace, the Bay Guardian and the Asian Law Caucus.

They said the "vast majority" of ADL files are news clips, magazine articles, books, journals and other documents published by various organizations.

"To monitor haters," the statement declared, "ADL has used a variety of techniques, mostly public and open. But many extremist groups are secretive and dangerous and it has been necessary at times to use individuals who have had to engage in undercover work in order to find out the truth about these groups."

The ADL said its undercover operatives work under strict guidelines designed to "ensure that the constitutional rights even of these extremist groups are protected ... to imply that simply maintaining a file containing documents mentioning an individual or an organization is tantamount to spying ... is preposterous."

Meanwhile, 19 people who assert that an ADL spy network violated their privacy have filed a class-action civil suit against the league.

They include the wife of former California Rep. Pete McCloskey and the son of former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens.

McCloskey, long a critic of Israeli policies, questioned whether the ADL were an Israeli government agency when he ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1982. He was on Bullock's list, police said.

Also named as defendants in the suit are Bullock and Gerard. The action, filed under California's privacy law, seeks $2,500 in damages for each person the Anti-Defamation League obtained confidential police information about. McCloskey is the attorney for the plaintiffs.

One of the plaintiffs, a former commentator at San Francisco television station KPIX, said in the complaint that after he questioned Israeli policy on negotiating with highjackers in 1985, he was told by his superiors that the ADL tried to get him fired.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Duncan McIntosh Company, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:investigation of Anti-Defamation League
Author:Stein, M.L.
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:May 8, 1993
Words:1266
Previous Article:Clinton on the press.
Next Article:Woodward denounces elevation of immediacy over quality.
Topics:

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters