Back in the 1970s when Julian Kulas, Erika Holzer, and I fought to keep "the littlest defector," teenager Walter Polovchak, from being forcibly deported to the then-Soviet Union by the KGB and ACLU, it was a lonely battle with much and many against us. ...



Holzer on Dershowitz

Back in the 1970s when Julian Kulas, Erika Holzer, and I fought to keep "the littlest defector," teenager Walter Polovchak, from being forcibly deported to the then-Soviet Union by the KGB and ACLU, it was a lonely battle with much and many against us. Among the few who stood with us in those dark days, mostly through his newspaper column, was Professor Alan Dershowitz. Unfortunately, Alan's life-long fealty to civil liberties has been misunderstood. Lately, he has been pilloried by not just conservatives, but by many of his friends on, and of, the left. He is now in print calling appointment of the Special Counsel tantamount to  putting the President of the United States before a kangaroo court. Here's Alan Dershowitz in his own words. Perhaps they will educate some members of the public about what he believes, and why.

At a moment in history when the ACLU is quickly becoming a partisan left wing advocacy group that cares more about getting President Donald Trump than protecting due process, who is standing up for civil liberties?

The short answer is no one.

Not the Democrats, who see an opportunity to reap partisan benefit from the appointment of a special counsel to investigate any ties between the Trump campaign/ administration and Russia. Not Republican elected officials who view the appointment as giving them cover. Certainly not the media who are reveling in 24/7 "bombshells."

Not even the White House, which is too busy denying everything to focus on "legal technicalities" that may sound like "guilty man arguments." Legal technicalities are of course the difference between the rule of law and the iron fist of tyranny. Civil liberties protect us all.

As H.L. Mencken used to say: "The trouble about fighting for human freedom is that you have to spend much of your life defending sons of bitches: for oppressive laws are always aimed at them originally, and oppression must be stopped in the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." History demonstrates that the first casualty of hyper-partisan politics is often civil liberties.

Consider the appointment of the special counsel to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump." Even if there were such direct links that would not constitute a crime under current federal law. Maybe it should, but prosecutors have no right to investigate matters that should be criminal but are not.

This investigation will be conducted in secret behind closed doors; witnesses will be denied the right to have counsel present during grand jury questioning; they will have no right to offer exculpatory testimony or evidence to the grand jury; inculpatory hearsay evidence will be presented and considered by the grand jury; there will be no presumption of innocence; no requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, only proof sufficient to establish the minimal standard of probable cause. The prosecutor alone will tell the jury what the law is and why they should indict; and the grand jury will do his bidding. As lawyers quip: they will indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutor tells them to. This sounds more like Star Chamber injustice than American justice.

And there is nothing in the constitution that mandates such a kangaroo proceeding. All the Fifth Amendment says is: "no person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury." The denials of due process come from prosecutorialy advocated legislative actions. The founding fathers would be turning over in their graves if they saw what they intended as a shield to protect defendants, turned into a rusty sword designed to place the heavy thumb of the law on the prosecution side of the scale.

Advocates of the current grand jury system correctly point out that a grand jury indictment is not a conviction. The defendant has the right to a fair jury trial, with all the safeguards provided in the constitution. But this ignores the real impact of an indictment on the defendant. Based on a one sided indictment alone, the "ham sandwich" can be fired from his or her job or suspended from university. Consider what happened to the Arthur Andersen company and its thousands of employees when it was indicted for obstructing an official proceeding by destroying records relating to one of its clients. 

Although Andersen was ultimately vindicated, the indictment itself forced it into bankruptcy causing a loss of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in shareholder values. Many individual have been indicted on the basis of one sided grand jury prosecutions and subsequently acquitted after a fair trial. Many of these individuals also suffered grievously as the result of being unfairly indicted.

Consider the consequences of an indictment by the special counsel’s grand jury in this matter. Not a conviction – just an indictment handed down by a grand jury that heard only one side in secret. It depends, of course on who the indictment named. In the Nixon case, for example, the president was named as an unindicted co-conspirator by the Watergate grand jury. This meant that he could not even defend himself at a trial. I was on the national board of the ACLU at the time. And although I despised Nixon and campaigned for his opponent, I wanted the ACLU to object to the unfairness of a one sided grand jury naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator.

So I will be standing up for civil liberties during the duration of this investigation. As a civil libertarian I care more about due process and the rule of law than I do about politics. But many people conflate my advocacy for civil liberties with support for President Trump. I have been bombarded with tweets such as: "Alan loves Donald. He’s throwing him lifelines;" "Has he been hired by Trump? Time to come clean;" "@AlanDersh I thought you were a smart guy. After hearing you support Trumpie, guess not;" "Has Trump already hired @AlanDersh to defend him? Clearly sounds that way;" and "No matter the subject, he inserts himself in the conversation with a full-throated and nonsensical defense of Trump."

Let me be clear: I voted for Hillary Clinton and oppose many of President Trump’s policies. I would be taking the same position if the shoe were on the other foot – if Hillary Clinton had been elected and she were being subjected to an unfair process. Indeed I did do precisely that when she was threatened with prosecution. Remember the chants of "lock her up" during the campaign?

I will continue to monitor the current investigations into President Trump and his associates for any violation of civil liberties. I will call them as I see them, without regard to which side benefits.

And so should everyone who believes that even the President of the United States is entitled to benefit from the rule of law.


Comey, continued

I've been asked to elaborate on my last two Comey blogs. Because I don't have time at the moment, here's a thoughtful comment by one of my loyal blogees, with which I agree entirely. (Thanks to lawyer BW.)


The focus right now is on James Comey and how he handled the Clinton investigation.  Remember, initially, it was an inquiry, not an investigation.  That was at the direction of Loretta Lynch.

It is my opinion that Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch entered into a conspiracy to protect Hillary Clinton from indictment at all costs and James Comey bought into it.

When the DOJ refused to convene a Grand Jury to support the inquiry or investigation, the table was set.  There would be no subpoenas.  There would be no search warrants.  There would be no compelled testimony of any sort.  Witnesses were invited to discuss.  Witnesses were allowed to have co-conspirators attend their meetings with the FBI investigators.  No records were kept of the discussion.  Co-conspirators were given immunity.  The primary target was never interviewed until the last minute and she was allowed to defend herself by having a poor memory.  The FBI then created a requirement for intent in a statute that expressly required only gross negligence.  Then the FBI Director decided that extreme carelessness was a better description of the actions of the co-conspirators and it was not equivalent to gross negligence so there could be no prosecution.

Comments yesterday indicated that the consensus opinion of those actually involved in the investigation was that there was sufficient evidence gathered to support a prosecution.  We will probably never know what their written report actually said.  Comey decided to grandstand and negate the work of the investigators.  I still think he took that action because he knew that if they were to follow protocol and forward the recommendation of the investigators to DOJ there would be no further action and the whole matter would have been swept under the rug.  Comey knew Clinton and her tribe members were guilty but there was never going to be any indictment of anyone.

The investigation was a sham and Comey payed the price for participating in it.

The focus should be on the corruption of power in the agreement between Obama and Lynch.

What Rod saw

The fundamental reason President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey is not because he made a patently schizophrenic statement last July about Hillary Clinton's criminal non-crime, and then usurped the Department of Justice's prosecution powers--though that was sufficient ground by itself.

The firing is about the sweetheart deal James "what-an-honest-public-servant!" Comey made with, and for, the Democrat Party presidential nominee.

Recall how long it took the FBI to get around to interviewing Mrs. Clinton. On the eve of a holiday. Without swearing her. Comey being AWOL. Her two lawyer/confederates present. No notes taken. Giving them immunity, the FBI getting nothing in return. Allowing them to recover, and eventually destroy, their computers. Etc.

That's what the brand-new Deputy Attorney, Rod Rosenstein, saw. That's why his scathing letter to the President resulted in Mr. Trump firing Comey, "immediately."

I was wrong about the ATLAS SHRUGGED movies

On July 17, 2014 I posted the following blog ( concerning the third Atlas Shrugged alleged motion picture. The title was “The Final Desecration of “Atlas Shrugged.”

I am aware that among the hundreds of people who receive this blog not everyone is devoted to Ayn Rand’s ideas, or believes that her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged is a masterwork. Thus, what follows will probably be of no interest to them. 

However, for those who revere Rand’s 1957 novel as a superb example of romantic realism—let alone brilliantly predictive—the recently announced third motion picture installment of Atlas Shrugged must be considered the final desecration.

Of the many points I could make, here are only two of the major ones.

The feature filmrights to Atlas Shrugged should never been sold (let alone several times over) because the scope, characters, plot, and ideas of Atlas are inherently impossible to dramatize in two hours. 

I say this because of two personal experiences. 

One is because in 1968 Erika Holzer and I found the missing Italian film of We the Living, a much shorter and easier story to tell than Atlas. In its original form, WTLwas three-plus hours long. Only due to Rand’s personally suggested edits, a bit of her restructuring, and some 4,000 subtitles written by Erika Holzer and Duncan Scott, did the film become the international motion picture success it deserved to be. 

The second is because toward the end of Rand’s life she worked with a TV producer and writer to create a network miniseries which would have been at least seven hours long. The writer was Oscar-winner Stirling Silliphant, whose writing achievements included the TV series Route 66 and the feature film In the Heat of the Night. At dinner one night in Los Angeles Stirling told the Holzers that there was no way Atlas Shrugged could, with any fealty to the novel, be done as a typical two-hour feature film.

As further proof that it was folly to try, I submit that the eventual producers themselves realized that a standard feature was impossible. So they made three, somewhat connected, but still standard feature films.

I repeat, the feature film rights should never have been sold, and when it was clear the current producers intended to dissect Atlas into three standard feature films, they should have been stopped.

Instead, the producers’ “solution” to the unsolvable length and complexity problems—driven also by the need to begin principal photography before their rights-option expired—was to quickly make one-third of Rand’s magnum opus, with the other two-thirds to come along in two later installments.

As to Atlas I and II (and doubtless the forthcoming Atlas Shrugged III), not a single nationally or internationally household name was associated with the project. This failure was most egregious regarding the script. While it would have been too much to expect that the producers would hire a journeyman writer like William Goldman (All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), there were some well-credentialed Hollywood writers who understood Rand’s novel and could have created a faithfully powerful script. I know one of them.

Worse than all this, by far, is that the well-intentioned producers apparently believed that even though they were making an “entertainment” not a documentary, it was incumbent on them to provide “philosophical oversight.” So they hired the equivalent of a philosophical commissar, to keep the production on the Objectivist straight-and-narrow.
(There’s more. For example: difficulties with distribution, changing actors from one of the parts to the others, miscasting, the impossibility of showing Atlas Shrugged I, II, and III together in a movie theater or even on television.)

The noise you hear is Ayn Rand spinning in her grave. The feature film rights should never have been sold.

In the days of the Italian version of We the Living (1940-1941) it was possible for the film’s negatives and prints to vanish, as nearly happened because of Nazi hostility to Rand’s story about the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on a fiercely independent woman and the two men who loved her.

Unfortunately, in today’s world of the Internet, cloud storage, digital recorders, and DVDs, there is no way Atlas Shrugged I, II, and III, unlike We the Living, will ever be lost.


I was wrong.

Apparently those of us who admire Rand’s work have not yet seen the end of desecration of the much-admired author and her writing.

Today, I (and doubtless many others) received a pitch for money in an email offering an Atlas Shrugged comic book and an Ayn Rand cozy fleece winter blanket. See below.

For these moral obscenities, and perhaps even violations of law, we have to thank The Atlas Society’s new CEO’s “outreach” to the younger [and cold] generation.

Jennifer, this desecration is shameful squared. You are cheapening Ayn Rand’s name and insulting her work.

TAS founder, board member, and “Chief Intellectual Officer” David Kelley should be doubly ashamed.

And the other four board members, well, they should resign.

If this happened years ago when I was Ayn Rand’s lawyer, on her behalf I would have sued all of them.

For free!

From: The Atlas Society []
Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2017 2:01 AM
Subject: 2017: Rand Will Roar!

Atlas Society Weekly Newsletter
Atlas Society Weekly Newsletter

Scene from Atlas Shrugged

Graphic novels are all the why not one of Atlas Shrugged?  That was the dream of artist Agniezka Pilat when she created these panels from Ayn Rand's magnus opus many years ago.  We've set a few to music...and narration!  You can watch the magic by clicking below.

CEO Jennifer Grossman 

on WSJ Op-ed

In this interview with Mark Michael Lewis, Grossman responds to attacks by Yaron Brook & Onkar Ghate on her Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Can You Love God & Ayn Rand."  What she says may surprise you.  "To lead with vinegar is to be irrational." Agree?

One Cheer for Legalization,

Three Boos for Pot

This week, as recreational use of marijuana became legal in four states -- to cheering from many libertarians -- we remember the words of Ayn Rand: "I would fight for your legal right to use marijuana; I would fight you to the death that you morally should not do it, because it destroys the mind."  Writing for TAS, libertarian Jeffrey Tucker echoes her view in his piece, "Pot is Gross."

Why Do New Year's Resolutions Often Fail?

The philosophical roots of failed resolutions.  Bradley Doucet's classic piece on why evasion of reality, a disorganized hierarchy of values and placing "duty" before "desires," leads to disappointments.  David Kelley also weighs in.

"Speaking the language of values instead of the language of duty, ‘want-to’ instead of ‘have-to,’ is a daily reminder that we live by choice, with both the freedom and the responsibility that that entails." 

David Kelley, Founder

Nicole Sanders

The Atlas Society would like to welcome Nicole as our Director of Student Programs!  
She started her career in the Liberty movement after she read Atlas Shrugged. She then enrolled at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas and started a Young Americans for Liberty(YAL) chapter in February of 2015. 
Nicole soon became disenfranchised when she learned of unconstitutional speech codes and a free speech area at her college. With the help of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), she placed a first amendment lawsuit against Blinn College and won the lawsuit in March on 2016.  READ MORE


Ayn Rand Fleece Blanket 

Baby it's cold out there! So why not cuddle up in your very own Ayn Rand fleece blanket this winter?

A thought for Veterans Day: In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe!
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high!
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep
, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


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