Leonard Cohen & Sonny Rollins
Who By Fire?
Thursday, October 8th 2009, 4:00 AM
Williams is a National Book Award-winning writer whose 2006 éxposé, "The Dunces of Doomsday," revealed potential terrorist threats to the United States emanating from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. Although the book was published only in the U.S., he's being sued for libel in Canada by the university, which is demanding an apology and $2 million in damages.
Williams is just the latest entry on an increasingly long list of victims of "libel tourism" - a list that includes me. In this chilling assault on American free speech, "libel tourists" use foreign laws and courts, which lack America's robust First Amendment protections, to try to silence American authors and force them into financial ruin.
Congress has the power to stop this dangerous tide, if it acts now.
Williams' reporting centered on the penetration of McMaster's College of Engineering by alleged Al Qaeda operatives. When the suspected terrorists left the school in 2004, 180 pounds of nuclear waste went missing. The U.S. government issued a "be-on-the-lookout" order and posted a reward of $5 million for each suspect.
Yet for daring to write about the threat, Williams is now being sued across the border. And Canadian libel laws are notoriously plaintiff-friendly.
by Paul L Williams
The same is true in Brazil, where Joseph Sharkey, a New Jersey-based freelance business columnist, is being sued for reporting about the aftermath of a plane crash he survived over the Amazon. The plaintiff is a woman who maintains Sharkey offended the "dignity" of Brazil by criticizing its incompetent air-traffic control. She is demanding $500,000 and a series of international apologies. Sharkey is likely to be convicted.
In 2005, Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz sued me for libel in London; in a heavily researched book, I had alleged that he funded Al Qaeda. Mahfouz was a one-man wrecking crew of Americans' free speech rights, who after 9/11 sued or threatened to sue dozens of American writers in plaintiff-friendly English courts. When Mahfouz came after me, I refused to acknowledge the British court, asserting my rights as a U.S. citizen.
Nevertheless I was rendered a judgment by default and ordered to pay Mahfouz more than $250,000 and destroy the book. We must stop this assault on free speech. Fortunately for Williams, Pennsylvania is represented by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, who wrote and introduced the Free Speech Protection Act of 2009. The bill would protect American writers and publishers from foreign libel judgments rendered in countries lacking America's free speech protections. New York was the first state to pass an anti-libel tourism law, with similar laws following in Florida and Illinois. But these patchwork protections don't do nearly enough.
Congress needs to intervene. Specter's bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), is now idling in the Judiciary Committee. President Obama should urge its immediate passage - before more American journalists are silenced by foreign courts.
Ehrenfeld, author of "Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed - and How to Stop It," is director of the American Center for Democracy.
American investigative journalist, and author, Dr. Paul L. Williams, will begin his crusade, October 8, in a Toronto courtroom to answer charges of defamation regarding his explosive investigations into missing radio active material at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Williams become entangled in a legal jam with the Canadian university while discussing his book The Dunces of Doomsday on the nationally syndicated “Coast-to-Coast AM” radio program with George Noory.
According to Williams, “What is unique about my case is that my alleged violation of Canadian law took place in the U.S.A. I wrote my book in America, where it was published, and I spoke to American reporters who called me at my home in Pennsylvania. By all standards, what I said and wrote about McMaster University remains well within the libel and defamation laws of our land. Still and all, I am being sued by a foreign entity and have lost not only my freedom but my life savings.”
The case is significant since it represents the first time in American History an American journalist has been forced to submit to a foreign jurisdiction. Williams speculates that the reason Canada is able to sue him over the border is because of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA was signed into law in 1994 eliminating most trade barriers.
However, an unintended consequence of NAFTA was the ability for foreign individuals and entities to sue American journalists and authors on libel and defamation suits much harder to adjudicate in America. Under Canadian law, once an accusation of libel is made, the respondent must prove they are innocent rather than the plaintiff proving guilt.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.In light of the ongoing legal jihad waged against Dr. Paul L. Williams by the Canadian [In] Justice system........
~ Matthew 7:13
Wal-Mart’s Canadian stores found themselves in a pickle in 1997. The Canadian subsidiary had begun selling Cuban-made pajamas at eight bucks a pop across our neighbor to the North, which enraged both the company’s home office and the U.S. Treasury Department. The stores quickly pulled the offending PJ’s, which led to a second problem: this action may have violated a Canadian law that forbids abiding by the American embargo of Cuba. After the Ottawa government pointed out that Wal-Mart could face a million-dollar fine for pulling the sleepwear from its shelves, the Canadian Wal-Marts reversed the ban after one week.Boycott Florida: Canadian development agencies announce a boycott
Canadian development agencies and Cuba solidarity committees .... a Canadian boycott of Florida tourism to protest the U.S. Helms-Burton law on Cuba....
...a key provision of a new anti-Cuban law. ...Victoria Peace Centre: Campaigns ~ Boycott USA
We should boycott franchised products like Coors and Budweiser. And we should boycott Bacardi rum anyhow - the cause of the Helms-Burton law against Cuba...Canadian Anglicans boycott U.S. resorts
The Anglican Church of Canada is calling on Canadian "snowbirds" to boycott U.S. travel ..