Monday, May 30, 2005

Law firm representing terrorists has defense and national security clients

One of the big Washington law firms named in the May 30 New York Times article as a defender of enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo does a lot of business with companies in the defense, national security and government contracts sector.

It also specializes in aviation and public policy law. According to the Times, the firm "enlisted in the [terrorist detainee defense] effort and devoted considerable resources to it."

The terrorist connection, facilitated by the Center for Constitutional Rights, is sure to raise eyebrows at the Justice Department, Pentagon and other government agencies concerned with national security. For nearly four decades the CCR has championed the causes of terrorists, foreign spies and cop-killers.

This humble blog doesn't dare name the firm, which has hundreds of lawyers at its disposal, but its new name - it's a merger of two powerful law firms and its co-founder, Lloyd Cutler, passed away May 8 - appeared in the New York Times story.

Big law firms eager to aid terrorists at Gitmo

Big-name law firms are rushing to aid enemy combatants being held at Guantanamo, Cuba, absorbing all the costs in hopes of making big money by suing the United States government on the alleged terrorists' behalf.

They no longer take a hands-off attitude toward scrappy, ideological terrorist support groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Instead, the CCR is coordinating the big firms - including some of the most prestigious in Washington - to move in against the US government in the middle of the war on terrorism.

The influx of lawyers is helping the (alleged) terrorists break their psychological dependence on their US military interrogators, a Guantanamo official says.

I'd name some of the law firms, but they'd probably file harassment suits. You can read who some of them are by clicking to the New York Times article that broke the story.

The CCR, headed by Michael Ratner, who has spent most of his professional life defending terrorists and helping them get back on the streets, is coordinating the effort.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I thought public diplomacy was supposed to give Arabs reasons NOT to bomb us!

Has the enemy infiltrated the State Department's public diplomacy shop again?

One might think so in a recent issue of its monthly "Hi" magazine, an attractive, soft and light publication aimed at youth around the world, especially in Arab countries.

Among the features on NASCAR, whitewater rafting, health and science is a story about how some American men are - well, let the article speak for itself:

Real men moisturize. In fact, some of them, like Michael Gustman, a 25-year-old public relations account executive from Boca Raton, Fla., even have separate moisturizers for the face and body. Facial pores can clog with too heavy a salve, it seems.

Not long ago, these and other habits would have been considered odd for a male. Gustman exfoliates. He gets manicures. He gets pedicures. He gets facials. He gets his hair done every two weeks. He accessorizes. He puts effort into getting ready for a date. He loves cooking complex dishes. He's a refined, evolved, sensitive guy.
In a word, he's a metrosexual.
Pass the suicide vest, please. Now meet Faisal the American metrosexual:

"Before it was men do this and women do that," [Faisal] says. "But since so many successful, educated and talented women have entered the workforce, many of those lines have been blurred, if not erased. Women today want more out of a man. They want a man who's not just a beer, football and hairy knuckles dragging on the floor type of guy. They want someone who has interesting interests and dresses a certain way and takes care of himself as well as he takes care of his work."

[Faisal] will not deny that he spends a lot of time on his appearance. He coordinates his shoes and belts with his clothing. He has a history of spending a lot of money on clothes, although he confesses he scours discount stores for just the right look. He recently spent his first day at a spa, and he says it won't be his last.
Now, I'm not one of the "Hi" haters who objects to its popular culture content. It's a potentially important magazine that's attracting a generation of younger adult readers in parts of the world where we never did any public diplomacy at all. It has a cool website with Angelina Jolie dressed as modestly as you've ever seen her.

But moisturizing men who get hairdos? The State Department is supposed to be spreading messages that make the United States look appealing to foreign audiences. Not giving new reasons why we all should get blown up.

Monday, May 16, 2005

New blog is following Polish secret police controversy

It's amazing how a little blog like this one can cause such an international controversy! My April 30 post about alleged former collaborators with the Soviet-era secret police in Poland unexpectedly has become a hot issue. To keep Fourth World War on-target, I'm covering the Polish issue on a new blog called Polish Collaborators. Since these blogs represent only my own personal views and concerns, I've removed my institutional affiliations from my profile to avoid confusion.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Szlajfer writes rebuttal to this blog in major Warsaw paper; denies he was secret collaborator

Henryk Szlajfer, the senior Polish foreign ministry official who might be named the next Polish ambassador to the United States, wrote a detailed rebuttal to FourthWorldWar's April 30 report of a secret police index that indicates he was a collaborator under communist rule.

Because of the importance of his statement and in the interests of fairness, I asked a Polish colleague to translate Szlajfer's rebuttal, which appeared in the May 8 issue of Gazeta Wyborcza, a newspaper that likes to call itself the "New York Times of Poland."

Gazeta Wyborcza's over-reaction to the report on this blog has caused user traffic to spike, and prompted me to dig a little more for what related information might be around. There's so much material worthy of publication that I started a new blog, Dzerzhinsky's Polish Legion, at

The full text of the translation of Szlajfer's article appears on that blog. Click here to read it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Developing: More on Szlajfer's Trotskyite activity

The Warsaw newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported falsely last weekend that this blogger backed off a statement that senior Polish foreign ministry official Henryk Szlajfer was involved in a Trotskyite Communist group in the 1960s.

I wrote that Szlajfer, who might be named as Polish ambassador to Washington, "participated in a Trotskyist 'dissident' faction called 'The Commandos' and led by Adam Michnik." The Gazeta Wyborcza reporter took issue with that assertion and inaccurately said I backed away. The controversy arose amid concerns about old secret police microfilm records that appear to indicate that Szlajfer was a collaborator.

Michnik is founder and editor of the Gazeta Wyborcza, so maybe that's why his newspaper ran that weird, four-page article attacking this humble blog. Meanwhile, Szlajfer reportedly denies that he was a secret police agent. There's more to this story, so watch this space.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Remember: The last defenders of the Gestapo were the French-SS

Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the fall of the Third Reich and the end of World War II in Europe, we mustn't forget the French warriors who outlasted the Germans as the Nazi capital fell.

They weren't among the American- and British-backed forces of Charles DeGaulle, and they were worse than the French Communists who were loyal to Stalin.

As Antony Beevor recounts in his book, The Fall of Berlin 1945 (Viking, 2002), these French fighters battled alongside the Scandinavian SS Nordland Division as the last defenders of Hitler's Chancellery and the Gestapo.

They were the remaining men of the Charlemagne Division, the forgotten fighters of the French Waffen-SS.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Text of interview with Newsweek on Polish secret police

The following is the text of an online interview that Polish Newsweek correspondent Pawel Szaniawski conducted with this blogger on May 6, 2005. The interview, in the form of a set of written questions, concerned our April 30 post about Henryk Szlajfer, a possible candidate for Polish ambassador to the United States, and a secret police record indicating that he might have been an agent. The text of the interview follows:

Newsweek: Some accusations appeared that your blog post was not uncalculated, coming in time for the long weekend in Poland and just before the current Marek Belka government is expected to hand in its resignation. What is more, you admited to "Gazeta Wyborcza" that you had the materials about Szlajfer for a long time. Why you decided to publish them at this particular moment?

Waller: The blog is so obscure that I had no idea the story would provoke any interest in Poland. If I had "calculated" the story, I would have written it for a magazine or newspaper. I do not follow the Polish press, Polish politics or the Polish holiday calendar. My interest in the Szlajfer case is part of a larger interest in the residue of the secret police of the former Soviet bloc. I have been collecting material from the Soviet-era archives from a number of countries and writing about them for 15 years. Once in a while when somebody’s name comes up in current events, my colleagues and I will exchange information to see what there might be. This was the case with Mr. Szlajfer’s name.

Newsweek: "Gazeta wyborcza" quotes high ranking White House servant who claims that your article is a nonsense and it is an attempt to ovethrow Szlajfer's candidature. Are you trying to play such role?

Waller: No. Mr. Szlajfer and those like him can end the controversy by claiming "victim of Communism" status and disclosing what is in the secret police files. This is a matter of transparency and accountability, not simply the mistakes people made in the past. If people avoid exonerating or explaining themselves when they have the chance, they simply keep alive the unpleasant questions that will cloud their names and damage their effectiveness. People can be very understanding, myself included. However, if the individuals in question get indignant and denounce the questions without answering them, it’s clear they have something to hide.

Governments that choose to post such people to Washington should not try to hide the facts, particularly when the information is on an official record. If an ambassador does have such a past, it should be disclosed fully and explained, pre-empting any controversy and satisfying legitimate questions.

I don’t believe Gazeta wyborcza cited a White House "servant" by name, and I have not read the article, so I cannot judge the validity of its report. Even so, different officials focus on different issues. What might be of concern to a diplomat or trade official might not be of concern to a security-oriented official, and vice-versa.

Newsweek: You have written that: "American officials are concerned that, with the communist-era secret police archives moved to Moscow, the Russian intelligence services are able to compromise the integrity of democratic Poland and, consequently, NATO itself." You also quote "a Washington source with close ties to the State Department and White House. "It would further undermine confidence in Poland's commitment to remain independent from Moscow." Do you agree with this statement?
Waller: I agree with what I wrote on the blog. I am doubtful that former collaborators with the Polish Communist secret police are free from being blackmailed by the Russians, who almost certainly have their files. It stands to reason that Moscow will try mightily to manipulate Polish officials who could be susceptible to blackmail. Consequently, those officials could compromise Poland’s commitment to remain independent from Moscow. Since collaboration was on such a large scale, and since the former Communists in Poland have shown little if any contrition for their past collaboration and even less interest in bringing the truth to light, it is reasonable as a friend of Poland for me to be concerned about its leaders’ commitment to keep the country independent from Russia.

Newsweek: Do you think Szlajfer - as a Polish ambassador in Washington - can complicate a Polish-US relationship and prolong visa restrictions on Polish citizens or other delicate issues?

Waller: I believe that any Polish ambassador to Washington would unnecessarily complicate our countries’ relations if he had an unresolved or hidden history as an alleged agent of the Communist secret police. It is difficult to see how Americans would view such an individual as a credible representative of a truly democratic Poland.

Newsweek: Do you think candidates for Polish ambassadors should be officially checked (by the court?) concerning their possible collaboration with communist secret police?

Waller: It is not my place to tell Poland how it should screen its own diplomats. However, it is hard to see how a court that dismisses official microfilm evidence on politicians [as with the case of President Aleksandr Kwaśniewski, a former communist whose Soviet-era file indicated he was a secret police collaborator] would be a credible venue for screening ambassadors, and to my knowledge many of the foreign ministry records have been destroyed. I think it is very unfortunate that Poland has chosen to cover up the Soviet-era crimes of its officials by rejecting the lustration process that other former Soviet colonies have carried out.

Newsweek: What materials except for Wildstein's List and "sources close to the White House" do you have?

Waller: Nice try.

[End of text.]

Indignance from Polish press signals deeper problem

The response was surprising to last week's post about a possible top candidate for Poland's next ambassador to Washington.

It was surprising, first, because of the big deal the Polish media has made about it: breathless front-page stories in Warsaw based on a single posting in this obscure little blog.

The other surprise is much more serious - and disturbing. Most of the Polish journalists who called me about the story were defensive or outright hostile.

Not hostile to President Kwaśniewski or his reputed candidate to be Poland's next ambassador to Washington, both of whom, the archives show, were agents of the communist secret police.

The Polish press seems outright indignant that I should ask questions about the ambassador-in-waiting. Most Polish reporters make it clear by their questions that they don't like people to go around asking such things.

That's too bad. It shows that, just like the politicians, many of Poland's best journalists would rather see the issue of collaboration with the Soviet occupation swept under the rug. That's not a good sign. It indicates that not all is well in the Polish press corps, and that the journalism profession in Warsaw deserves special scrutiny for its own conveniently forgotten past.