One can learn a great deal about the values and core beliefs of a political figure by taking note of the people he or she assigns to key government posts. Consider, for instance, what we can learn about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the basis of her February 8th appointment of Joseph Onek to be her Senior Counsel. “This is a critical time for the Congress and the country,” Onek said following his appointment, “and I thank the Speaker for the opportunity to return to government service and work on behalf of the American people.”
But who is Joseph Onek, and how exactly does he define working “on behalf of the American people”? A not insignificant clue is provided by the fact that Onek, a 1967 graduate of Yale Law School, is currently a Senior Policy Analyst for George Soros’s Open Society Institute (OSI), one of the world’s major financiers of the political far Left. OSI is a member of the benignly named Peace and Security Funders Group, an association of more than 50 foundations that earmark a sizable portion of their $27 billion in combined assets to leftist organizations that undermine the war on terror in several interrelated ways:
by characterizing the United States as an aggressively militaristic nation that exploits vulnerable populations all over the globe
by accusing the U.S. of having provoked, through its unjust policies and actions, the terror attacks against it, and consequently casting those attacks as self-defensive measures taken in response to American transgressions
by depicting America’s military and legislative actions against terror as unjustified, extreme, and immoral by steadfastly defending the civil rights and liberties of terrorists whose ultimate aim is to facilitate the annihilation of not just the United States, but all of Western civilization
by striving to eradicate America’s national borders and institute a system of mass, unregulated migration into and out of the United States — thereby rendering all distinctions between legal and illegal immigrants anachronistic, and making it much easier for aspiring terrorists to enter the U.S. Toward this end, OSI has poured rivers of money into the coffers of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, theNational Immigration Law Center, the National Immigration Forum, the National Council of La Raza, and the American Immigration Law Foundation.
In September 2002, Joseph Onek’s OSI also made a $20,000 grant to the Legal Defense Committee of Lynne Stewart, the criminal-defense attorney who had unlawfully abetted her incarcerated client, Omar Abdel Rahman, in transmitting messages to the Islamic Group, the Egypt-based terrorist organization he headed. At the time of Stewart’s crime, Rahman was already serving a life sentence for his role in masterminding the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; he also had conspired, unsuccessfully, to plant additional bombs at the United Nations building, FBI offices in New York, the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge.
OSI’s money is further apportioned to a far-flung variety of leftist groups, including:
radical feminist organizations that portray America as an irredeemably sexist nation and consider taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand to be an inalienable right for all women (the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, the Ms. Foundation for Women, Planned Parenthood, Catholics for a Free Choice, and NARAL Pro-Choice America)
members of the Legal Left, which, in the name of civil liberties, seeks to dismantle virtually all government safeguards against terrorism (the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the National Lawyers Guild)
organizations that, under the revered banner of human rights, direct a grossly disproportionate share of their criticism at the United States (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, and Human Rights First)
political organizing groups and think tanks of the Left (America Coming Together, the Center for American Progress, the Brennan Center for Justice, MoveOn.org, the Center for Community Change, People for the American Way, the Urban Institute, and Alliance for Justice)
anti-prison organizations seeking to transform the criminal-justice system’s current “punitive” model into one that is “rehabilitative” (the Sentencing Project and the Prison Moratorium Project)
The Open Society Institute’s funding priorities reflect a vision of America as a nation infested with all manner of inequity, a country in desperate need of radical social and economic transformation. It is more than noteworthy that Joseph Onek has secured for himself a leadership position within this Institute.
Another highlight of Mr. Onek’s resume is his current position as Senior Policy Analyst for the Open Society Policy Center (OSPC), which, like OSI, was founded by the billionaire leftist George Soros. Established in the aftermath of September 11th, this organization helped draft the Civil Liberties Restoration Act, which in June 2004 was introduced in the Senate by Democrats Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Russell Feingold, Richard Durbin, and Jon Corzine. The Act was designed to roll back, in the name of defending civil liberties, vital national-security policies that had been adopted following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
OSPC’s range of concerns extends also to “the proper treatment of detainees” — a polite reference to the bloodthirsty al Qaeda combatants captured on Middle Eastern battlefields and currently incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.
Extending its advocacy on behalf of inmates to the American prison system at large, OSPC considers “rehabilitation,” rather than punishment, to be the proper function of criminal justice. Key to the attainment of this objective, in OSPC’s calculus, are colossal boondoggles whereby American taxpayers foot the bill for a multitude of “needed services and treatment” programs designed to help ease prison inmates’ transition back into society after their release.
Joseph Onek’s busy life also requires that he reserve some time for his duties as Senior Counsel for the Constitution Project (CP), an organization that seeks “solutions to difficult legal and constitutional issues.” These “solutions” are essentially calls for the United States to abandon every aggressive anti-terrorism and anti-crime measure it has ever initiated, on grounds that such measures violate the rights and freedoms of suspected wrongdoers.
Onek serves as Director of CP’s Liberty and Security Initiative (LSI), which flatly rejects most of America’s post-9/11 homeland security efforts as misguided “government proposals that [have] jeopardized civil liberties.” Specifically, LSI:
opposes President Bush’s decision to try suspected terrorists in military tribunals rather than in civilian courts
opposes “the use of profiling” in law-enforcement and intelligence work alike holds that state and local law-enforcement agencies should be uninvolved in pursuing suspected terrorists
opposes government efforts to “conduct surveillance of religious and political organizations”
opposes “increased federal and state wiretap authority and increased video surveillance”
calls for the creation of a commission “to investigate the abuse of people held at detention facilities such as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay” (“When you think about it,” Onek says, “Guantanamo became a symbol around the world for American disrespect for law.”)
Onek was formerly the Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLSP), which promotes the familiar leftist theme of massive taxpayer expenditures, coupled with a diminution of personal responsibility, as the proper means of achieving virtually every societal objective one can name. For example, CLSP:
proposes increased funding for “child care and early education initiatives” such as Head Start
opposes “family cap” policies that would make welfare recipients ineligible for incrementally higher payments if they procreate further while on public assistance
advocates “a comprehensive range” of new, government-funded services for “low-income children and their parents”
calls for “reorienting the child support program into an income support program, emphasizing the need to improve family resources by providing tailored services to both parents”
aims to make more money available to cover the cost of college tuition and “college support services” for “low-income adults” proposes to help ex-prisoners “find work, get safe housing, go to school, and access public benefits.”
To disseminate his perspectives to the widest possible audience, Onek has been an occasional guest blogger on the website of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), a Washington, DC-based think tank that seeks to radicalize American jurisprudence by recruiting and indoctrinating law students, law professors, attorneys, and judges — and helping them to acquire positions of power. The roster of speakers who address ACS conventions includes such luminaries as Ralph Nader and the communist icon Angela Davis.
Apart from the foregoing organizational affiliations, Onek has also held important posts in two presidential administrations. Under President Clinton, he served as State Department Rule of Law Coordinator and Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General. In the latter role, Onek was a key figure in the Justice Department headed by Attorney General Janet Reno and Assistant Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. You might recall that Gorelick in 1995 issued the monumentally important “wall memo” to then-FBI Director Louis Freeh and U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White. Titled “Instructions on Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations,” Gorelick’s memo read:
“We believe that it is prudent to establish a set of instructions that will more clearly separate the counterintelligence investigation from the more limited, but continued, criminal investigations. These procedures, which go beyond what is legally required, will prevent any risk of creating an unwarranted appearance that FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978] is being used to avoid procedural safeguards which would apply in a criminal investigation.”
In short, this mandate stressed the importance of maintaining a legal barrier, or “wall,” barring intelligence investigators and law-enforcement investigators from collaborating and sharing information — even if they were both trailing the same suspect who was plotting a terrorist act. This restriction (which had first been put in place by the Carter administration) effectively crippled the government’s ability to fight terrorism, and can arguably be blamed for America’s failure to prevent the 9/11 catastrophe. Two noteworthy examples of the policy’s deadly consequences are the following:
On August 29, 2001, an FBI investigator in New York desperately pleaded for permission to initiate an intensive manhunt for al Qaeda operative Khalid Almihdar, who was known to be planning something big. The Justice Department and the FBI deputy general counsel’s office both denied the request, explaining that because the evidence linking Almihdar to terrorism had been obtained through intelligence channels, it could not legally be used to justify or aid an FBI agent's criminal investigation; that is, it would constitute a violation of Almihdar’s “civil rights.” Thirteen days later, Almihdar took over the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon.
The same wall of separation prevented FBI agents in Minneapolis from searching the computer hard drive of Zacarias Moussaoui — the so-called “20th hijacker” — in August 2001. Had those agents been given access to Moussaoui’s computer, two of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers would have been identified along with the Hamburg-based terrorist cell that planned the attack; it can reasonably be argued that if that had happened, the mass murders of 9/11 could have been averted.
As noted above, it was during the Carter administration that the aforementioned “wall” (dividing law-enforcement from intelligence) was first created to defuse allegations of FBI espionage abuses. And Joseph Onek served as Deputy Counsel to President Carter, advising the latter on all legal issues pertaining to the Presidency.
In other words, Onek has played major roles in the two presidential administrations that did more harm to America’s terror-fighting capacity than any other administrations in U.S. history.
On June 21, 2005, Onek testified at the invitation of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment. His chief concern involved Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which he referred to as “the so-called library records provision.” “The FBI,” Onek warned, “will seek financial records, employment records, transportation records, medical records and yes, sometimes, library records. ... Inevitably, FBI investigations will sweep up sensitive information about innocent, law-abiding people.”
Onek and his fellow critics of the Patriot Act have portrayed Section 215 as an egregious invasion of personal privacy. But as Heather MacDonald points out, “grand juries investigating crimes have always been able to subpoena the very items covered by 215 — including library records and Internet logs — without seeking a warrant or indeed any judicial approval at all. Section 215 merely gives anti-terror investigators the same access to such records as criminal grand juries, with the added protection of judicial oversight.”
During his June 21 testimony, Onek also expressed deep concern about “the danger that the government will use the information it gathers and shares in ways that unfairly discriminate against Muslim Americans.” “Muslims will appear disproportionately on the government’s computer screens,” he explained, “because they are the people most likely (naturally and innocently) to visit, telephone and send money to places like Pakistan and Iraq. Inevitably, government officials will learn more about Muslim Americans than about other Americans.” He predicted that this would lead to the injustice of Muslims being disproportionately caught violating immigration laws, and that “[t]his unfairness will breed discontent in the Muslim community and undermine the fight against terrorism.”
And then, incredibly, Onek said this: “The government remains free to bring criminal or immigration cases against Muslim Americans, provided that it does not use information generated by anti-terrorist data-mining systems in cases not involving terrorism or violent crime. This limitation will require some segregation of information and impose some burdens on the government. But these burdens are a small price to pay to ensure fairness to all Americans and strengthen the fight against terrorism.”
In other words, Onek continues to advocate the very same “wall” — barring intelligence officials and law-enforcement officials from sharing information and collaborating on investigations — that his former employers at the Clinton Justice Department sanctified in the 1990s.
You have read correctly: Onek favors precisely the policy that made it impossible for the U.S. to avert 9/11, and he characterizes its most (literally) fatal flaw as “a small price to pay.”
There could be no starker illustration of blind devotion to a seemingly enlightened ideology that has, in practice, shown itself to be the wellspring of failed and foolish policy. And this is the man who Nancy Pelosi, the powerful Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has named as her Senior Counsel. The American people should know that.
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