Documents on ADL Anti-Defamation League campaign against Free Speech.
The story breaks...
B'rith is target of probe.
May 3, 1993
SAN FRANCISCO -- In 1954 Roy Bullock, an Indianapolis teenager fascinated by spy stories, wrote a letter to a New York neoFascist group to see what he could uncover. When the group responded, Bullock took the information to the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and, in turning it over, began a 39-year career as an undercover researcher whose techniques now have led the prominent Jewish organization into a criminal probe.
More than 700 pages of court documents released this month provide a rare glimpse into the nationwide information-gathering methods of the 80-year-old ADL, which in its mission to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry long has tracked extremist groups and provided law-enforcement agencies with detailed information.
The San Francisco district attorney's office is investigating whether the ADL, in its efforts to defend the civil liberties of many, may have violated the civil liberties of others by obtaining confidential Registry of Motor Vehicles records, criminal histories and police file data that were supposed to be shredded.
No charges have been brought against the AOL, and the investigation is continuing.
But former U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-Calif.) last Wednesday filed a class-action lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court against the ADL for invasion of privacy on behalf of himself and 18 others whose names appeared in Bullock's database, including the son of former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens.
The civil suit charges that the ADL collected information on opponents of Israeli and South African government policies and passed it on to those countries.
The ADL denied that it is associated with agencies of foreign governments particularly the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. The ADL has acknowledged that it pays investigator around the country to report on organizations it suspects of hate crimes, anti-Jewish or anti-Israel activities, but says it does not condone illegal methods of obtaining information.
The group has launched a review of its procedures.
"We want to be sure ... there is adherence to our principles and our admonitions -- that we will only function within the law and we will not condone any violation of the law," said Melvin Salzburg, national chairman of the ADL.
Last week officials at the ADL sought to distance the organization from Bullock, now a 58-year-old dealer in Asian art and a zealous information gatherer who kept a database of 1,000 names and 500 organizations on his computer under the names "Arab," "Pinko," "Right," "Skins" and "ANC" (African National Congress).
"We knew nothing about the vast extent of the files," said Barbara Wahl, an attorney for the ADL. "Those are not ADL's files. Those are not ADL's terms ... ADL keeps no computerized network of information. That is all Cal's doing," she said, using the ADL's code name for Bullock.
She said that if Bullock also provided information to the FBI and to the South African government, the ADL was unaware of it. Bullock remains a freelance investigator for the ADL, Salberg said.
According to court documents, Bullock had counterparts in other cities, including an ex-police officer in Chicago code-named "Chi-3"; someone called "Ironsides" in St. Louis; and "Flipper," an Arab man in Atlanta.
Richard Cohen, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which tracks hate crimes in its Klanwatch project, described the ADL as a group highly motivated to gather information and publish reports on groups it perceives as harmful to U.S. Jews.
"They gather information however they can," Cohen said. Like journalists, he added, they welcome disclosures from confidential sources and "they probably rely on their sources to draw the line" about what information legally can be given out.
In an interview, Bullock acknowledged that he had crossed that line in obtaining information from former S an Francisco police officer Tom Gerard, who traded police files, criminal histories and license-plate numbers in exchange for Bullock's data on extremist groups
Boxes of police tiles that were under court order to be shredded were found in Bullock's apartment. Gerard, the subject of an FBI investigation, fled in November to the Philippines.
"I'm not a police person, so should I have this material?" Bullock asked. "That is a problem, and one I can't personally address."
A heavyset man with a mustache and graying hair, Bullock was a familiar figure to activists in San Francisco, particularly in Palestinian and anti-apartheid circles.
While being paid $550 a week by the ADL, he attended meetings of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Council; he volunteered to work in the office of the anti -apartheid March for Peace, Jobs and Justice: and, because of his stocky build, he worked security at an Arab-American march, said Jeffrey Blankfort, editor of the Middle Last Labor Bulletin.
He was so successful at infiltrating political groups that he was once selected to head an Arab-American delegation that visited Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) in Washington.
According to court documents, Bullock told a police investigator that he retrieved messages from the telephone answering machine of the White Aryan Resistance (a white supremacist group) by paying an informant called "Scumbag" $300 or $400 in ADL funds for the access code.
He also said he found it irresistible to pass by the building housing the Christie institute, a left-wing organization, without going up to the fifth floor and rifling though a trash barrel in the hail.
Bullock said "99.9 percent" of the information came from what he called "public sources," including the alternative weekly newspaper in San Francisco, the Bay Guardian, on which he also kept a file.
He said information on such ostensibly apolitical groups as the Earth Island institute -- which was listed in the "Pinko" section. according to court documents -- were part of his own private files, not information he was passing on to ADL.
Among the hundreds of groups Bullock kept files on were the Revolutionary Communist Party, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arab American Democratic Club. the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in Chicago, New Jewish Agenda and the Asian Law Caucus. Bullock said his career as an informant stemmed from a concern for justice. A non-Jew, he said he strongly supported the ADL's mission of identifying anti-Semitism.