Source: The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July/August 1994, Page 21
Its Informant Sentenced, But ADL Criminal
By Rachelle Marshall
Tom Gerard, a former San Francisco police officer who shared confidential police information on Arab-American and other political groups with a paid agent of the Anti-Defamation League, has pleaded no contest to the minor charge of illegal access to a police computer system, ending the criminal case against him brought last year by the San Francisco District Attorney's office, Gerard was sentenced to a three-year period of probation, 45 days on the sheriff's work crew, and a $2,500 fine.
The original charges brought against Gerard when he was arrested in May 1993 included the theft of confidential police and Department of Motor Vehicle records. In late April of this year Judge J. Dominique Olcomendy said the case could not go forward because the FBI refused to release documents that Gerard's attorney said would prove his client's innocence. Gerard's long career in undercover police work involved frequent contacts with the FBI and included a stint with the CIA in Central America. Some of the documents subpoenaed by his attorney are thought to be summaries of FBI wiretaps that revealed Gerard and ADL employee Roy Bullock were selling data on anti-apartheid groups to the South African government.
The two men may have provided information to Israel's spy agency Mossad as well. Included in Gerard's files was information on every major Arab-American organization and hundreds of their members. The arrests last winter in Israel of three Arab Americans who were visiting the occupied territories prompted many supporters of Palestinian causes to suspect that reports of their legal activities in the United States were being sent to Israeli intelligence officials and used as a basis for arrest when they arrived in Israel. Although ADL was found in possession of much of this illegally acquired information, District Attorney Arlo Smith agreed last fall not to file criminal charges against the organization on condition that ADL contribute $75,000 to educational programs over the next three years and refrain from soliciting confidential public records that it knew were illegally obtained.
The FBI's refusal to cooperate in the case against Gerard is puzzling to those who recall that it was the FBI that tipped off San Francisco police in late 1992 that the former police officer had illegally retained in his home police intelligence files that had been ordered destroyed in 1990. But according to the April 30 San Francisco Examiner, the defense strategy crafted by Gerard's attorney, James Lassart, "was tosubpoena the FBI records, knowing that the bureau wouldnot turn them over for fear of compromising its own investigative techniques and informants."
Despite the court's decision on Tom Gerard, the controversy over the ADL spy case is bound to remain alive. Arab Americans and others whose rights were violated were disappointed and angry when the original charges were dropped. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said, "What was on trial was whether or not our system of justice would follow through and protect our rights ... Our justice system has been found wanting." Osama Doumani of the American-Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee (ADC) called it "a reverse David and Goliath situation."
In the long run it may be up to the victims of the spy operation to bring its perpetrators to justice. Two civil lawsuits against the ADL are inching their way through the courts, unfortunately at what ADL lawyers are trying to assure is glacial speed. One of the suits was filed last year in federal court by ADC and other civil rights organizations, and the other in California state court by a group of individuals represented by former Congressman Paul McCloskey, Jr. Plaintiffs in both suits were listed in ADL's files and charge that ADL violated their constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of expression.
It is likely to be months or years before these cases are resolved. Meanwhile, the failure of the judicial system to prosecute all of those involved in spying on thousands of their fellow citizens suggests that the effort to achieve full civil rights for all Americans still has a long way to go.
Rachelle Marshall is a free-lance writer living in Stanford, CA.
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