WorldNetDaily must have labored all weekend to figure out a way to spin its apparent legal capitulation in agreeing to return documents purloined from CAIR -- used in the WND-published book "Muslim Mafia" -- back to CAIR.
And spin WND does. The most obvious sign that WND feels rather sheepish about returning the documents is that there is no story with that as its sole focus. Rather, WND's spin is buried in a Nov. 22 article by Art Moore that is a fluffy profile of the lawyer for co-author David Gaubatz.
It's not until the ninth paragraph -- after touting how the lawyer, Martin Garbus, is a "First Amendment advocate who has represented the likes of Ronald Reagan, Nelson Mandela and Andrei Sakharov" -- that Moore gets around to his buried lead, the news of the agreement to return the purloined documents to CAIR. And it's a response that reads like it's been filtered through lawyers:
Garbus told WND the material will be returned, and a proposed order filed Thursday indicates both sides have agreed.
He argues there's "no point in having a fight over the right to distribute documents that have already been distributed."
"My client had this material for a long time, and I presume during that long time other people saw it," Garbus said. "So whatever use is being made of the document, I presume has already been made."
CAIR contends the documents were stolen, but Garbus believes that's "not an issue with respect to whether or not the book should be published." David Gaubatz insists the research described in his book, including securing the documents, "was conducted professionally and legally" in cooperation with law enforcement officials. Relevant material is in the hands of the FBI, he said.
"The agreement to return the documents is hardly, as CAIR officials have irresponsibly suggested publicly, an admission the material obtained in this investigation was stolen. We believe the documents and recordings were all obtained legally," said Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND, the parent company of WND Books, which published "Muslim Mafia." "Many of those documents have already been turned over to law-enforcement authorities – not typically the practice of those interested in 'stealing' things. I know the defendants in this lawsuit would prefer to see all the material handed over to law enforcement for review before being returned to CAIR."
Farah added: "But, remember, what is being returned to CAIR are documents that were headed for CAIR's shredder. Once CAIR was eager to dispose of them. Now, suddenly, the group is treating them like they are the crown jewels. Go figure."
"Further, ultimately, there is only one reason the defendants didn't decide to fight CAIR in the courtroom as a matter of principle," said Farah. "That's because the cost of their defense would have been so high it would have wiped them out financially. That's the sad truth of American justice. An extremist group with foreign backing can press litigation against American citizens with impunity. It's an example of economic terrorism."
Of course, if WND actually believed it had a case here, it wouldn't be hiding the news about the document return in an unrelated story, would it?
In line with the declaration of poverty, the article concludes with a plea for readers to donate to WND's legal defense fund. But as we've detailed, there are too many unanswered questions about the legal case WND is making in defense of Gaubatz to make any donation a risky proposition.
Further, WND might have more money to spend of legal defense of Gaubatz if he hadn't spent seven years fighting a libel lawsuit against WND it knew or should have known had merit, rather than making a correction at the outset.