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Class-Action Suit Accuses ADL Spy Ring

April 15, 1993|KENNETH REICH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nineteen people who claim that an Anti-Defamation League spy network violated their privacy rights, including the wife of former Rep. Pete McCloskey and the son of former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens, filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against the group and two undercover operatives.

The suit, which relies on a privacy provision in the California Constitution, seeks $2,500 in damages for each person on whom the Anti-Defamation League obtained confidential police information, said McCloskey, the lawyer for the plaintiffs.

McCloskey, a critic of Israeli policies when he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1982, questioned whether the ADL is an agency of the Israeli government. If it is, he said, it should register as a foreign agent.

David Lehrer, the ADL's regional director in Los Angeles, said ADL attorneys were reviewing the lawsuit and would comment today.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, is the first civil action arising from an investigation of the spy operation by the San Francisco Police Department and the FBI.

The suit named Roy Bullock, who told police he has been paid to spy for the ADL for 40 years, and former San Francisco Police Officer Tom Gerard.

Also on Wednesday, Irv Rubin, national chairman of the Jewish Defense League, said he was shocked to learn that his group had also been subject to spying by the ADL.

"I'm not sorry the Anti-Defamation League has looked into the legitimate enemies of the Jewish people," said Rubin, who is not a plaintiff in the lawsuit and who made a separate statement. "But when we hear that they have also investigated the ACLU, Mills College, the NAACP and a host of others including us . . . then we feel it's time for it to close its doors."

McCloskey said most of the plaintiffs believe that their careers have been compromised by ADL attacks on them after they made anti-Israel statements. Two people joining the suit who spoke Wednesday are former television and radio commentators.

Donald McGaffin, a former commentator at San Francisco television station KPIX, said that after he questioned Israeli policy on negotiating with hijackers in 1985, he was informed by his management that the ADL had "sent groups of people to try to get me fired."

Colin Edwards said he was fired from a job as a commentator on a San Francisco FM radio station, KALW, after his boss told him the group had protested his Middle Eastern commentaries.

McCloskey said: "Legally, there is nothing wrong with the Anti-Defamation League collecting newspaper clippings and so forth. But they cross over the line into illegality when they obtain government information that they know, or should know, is confidential."

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