In response to "San Francisco Probes Private Spy Network," Feb. 26:
The Times' article contains several misstatements and mischaracterizations about the activities of the Anti-Defamation League. Your article alleges that ADL has acted as part of a nationwide "spy network" which has collected information on a wide variety of individuals within the United States. This is absolutely untrue.
One of ADL's principal missions is to educate the public about the threat posed by extremist groups through its publication, "ADL on the Frontline," as well as various special investigative reports, books and other materials.
Your article has implied that ADL's fact-finding activities are, in some way, inappropriate. Nothing could be further from the truth. In order to further its mission to expose extremist, racist and anti-Semitic organizations and groups, it is imperative that ADL, like any other fact-finding organization, be able to freely gather the information it requires.
Our reports have focused not only on anti-Semitic extremism, but have been geared to alert the public, the media and the law enforcement community about the dangers of violent extremism. ADL's investigative reports have been used to assist in the preparation of legislation aimed at combatting hate crimes and paramilitary training by violent hate groups.
In compiling these reports, the league relies upon various sources of information, including the fruits of its own research and investigations of extremist groups. The ADL conducts its investigations by monitoring the publications and activities of extremist groups, cooperating with journalists and recognized authorities on extremism, including academics and other professionals. ADL also receives unsolicited reports of anti-Semitic and racist activities from members of the public, and cooperates with law enforcement agencies in the investigation of these incidents.
Like The Times, ADL, as a matter of policy, does not comment on the nature of its sources of information.
It is important also to put the allegations contained in your article into the proper context. These allegations arise out of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the San Francisco Police Department into the activities of one of its former members, Thomas Gerard. Because ADL has been cooperating with the ongoing investigation, and because virtually all of the materials relating to the investigation (including many of ADL's research files) have been placed under judicial seal by the court in San Francisco, ADL has naturally been unable to comment fully on these allegations.
Your article has also erroneously implied that the league is, in some way, associated with the South African government, or that the league was used as a conduit for providing information to them. This is absolutely untrue. ADL has never acted as a conduit for information to the government of South Africa, and has never provided its research materials to it.
The ADL was formed 80 years ago to combat racism, anti-Semitism and extremism in many forms. ADL has worked with numerous other organization to combat bigotry and hatred directed toward not only Jews, but also Arab-Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, gays, lesbians and other groups. ADL is proud of the work we have done in these areas and will continue to monitor extremist groups and expose their activities as broadly as possible to protect the safety and security of individuals of all religious, ethnic, racial and national groups.