David B. Harris Discusses the Circumstances Having Led CAIR-CAN to Drop Its Defamation Lawsuit against Him
Source: INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc.
Author: David B. Harris
Date: April 24, 2006
Original Title: Islamic Group’s Lawsuit against Former CSIS Official Is Dismissed
Press Release / Immediate Release
OTTAWA – 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 I have withdrawn not a word, and never shall.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’s 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’s 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 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’s 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.
Whatever the truth, it is remarkable, in light of the dramatic indictment of my remarks in CAIR-CAN’s 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’s 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’s 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?
- END OF STATEMENT -
BIO: DAVID B. HARRIS
A lawyer involved in criminal and national security matters, David Harris is Director of the International and Terrorist Intelligence Program, INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. He is a former Chief of Strategic Planning of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). As a commentator on terrorism and national security, and witness at Congressional subcommittee hearings in Washington, his analyses have received international media attention. Quoted in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and international news services, Mr. Harris has appeared on programs ranging from television’s “America’s Most Wanted,” CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “NBC Dateline” and “The Today Show,” to “The CBS News with Dan Rather” and CNN’s “Wolf Blitzer Reports”.
David B. Harris, Director, International and Terrorist Intelligence Program.
INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc.
P.O. Box 615, Station B
Ottawa, Canada, K1P 5P7
CAIR-CAN's Misleading Press Release:
CAIR-CAN settles lawsuits against CFRA Radio, David Harris
Wednesday, April 19, 2006 4:58 pm
For immediate release
CAIR-CAN recently settled a defamation lawsuit against David Harris and CFRA Radio.
In an April 1, 2004, broadcast on CFRA Radio, David Harris, president of Insignis Strategic Research and former Chief of Strategic Planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), implied that CAIR-CAN was a terrorist organization.
CFRA Radio settled immediately with CAIR-CAN and offered Sheema Khan, former Chair of CAIR-CAN, an opportunity to rebut Harris' comments on radio in September 2004. CFRA also had former executive director Riad Saloojee as a guest with Steve Madely on the Lunch Bunch, a noon-hour roundtable news discussion. Following the launch of the lawsuit, it appears that CFRA has not used Harris as a guest commentator since.
Last year, CAIR-CAN also sued David Frum, a former White House speechwriter who helped coin George Bush's "axis of evil" phrase, and the National Post.
In a column in the National Post, David Frum suggested that CAIR-CAN had terrorist affiliations.
In the settlement against David Frum, the following Editor's Note was published prominently in the National Post:
"Two columns written by David Frum prompted a complaint from Sheema Khan as well as from the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada. Mr. Frum was responding to a Globe and Mail column written by Ms. Khan.
"Although at times there are differences of opinion, David Frum and the National Post acknowledge that Sheema Khan honestly holds her expressed opinions and through her work seeks to foster a fuller appreciation of Islam in Canadian society.
"David Frum and the National Post acknowledge that the Council on American- Islamic Relations Canada is a national grassroots organization with the stated purpose of empowering Canadian Muslims through community education, media relations, anti-discrimination and public advocacy.
"David Frum and the National Post acknowledge that neither Sheema Khan nor the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada advocates or promotes terrorism.
"It is acknowledged that Sheema Khan and the Council on American-Islamic Relations Canada have repeatedly affirmed the importance of an understanding and appreciation of Islam in Canadian society."
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Accessed 8 July 2009, http://www.caircan.ca/itn_more.php?id=2457_0_2_0_C