Pro-LTTE Attorney ordered to pay the defendant he sued: Bruce Fein gets drubbing in US Federal Court
Posted on January 29th, 2011

by Hassina LEELARATHNA Courtesy Sunday Observer

Los Angeles, CA – President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s private visit to the US appeared to be good for the pro-LTTE diaspora and for its paid agent, Attorney Bruce Fein. Over the past weekend, LTTE websites have been buzzing over Fein’s proposed filing of a civil complaint in the 5th Circuit Southern District Court in Texas against the Sri Lankan leader for alleged “ƒ”¹…”genocide’ and “ƒ”¹…”war crimes’.

Making such filings appears to be an obligatory Kafkaesque ritual Fein must perform to please his handlers, a pro-LTTE group that calls itself “ƒ”¹…”Tamils Against Genocide (TAG)’. Fein, an associate deputy attorney general (for less than a year) during the Reagon administration, first gained notoriety in Sri Lanka in 2008 when frantic internet postings were made by a group called “ƒ”¹…”Tamils for Justice’ accusing him of disappearing with its funds.

He later surfaced as the attorney for TAG and submitted to the US Attorney General a “ƒ”¹…”model indictment’ against Sri Lankan military leaders, listing their alleged “ƒ”¹…”genocide’ and “ƒ”¹…”war crimes’.

The omnibus, 800+page document has gone nowhere since its submission in February 2009. He filed a similar lawsuit on TAG’s behalf against US Treasury Secretary. Timothy Geithner and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June 2009 trying to block the IMF’s $1.9 billion loan to Sri Lanka. TAG quietly withdrew the case after US attorneys and the IMF’s Meg Lundsager argued in a motion that the case had no standing in Federal Court and that it relied on a “ƒ”¹…”series of remote contingencies.’

For remnants of the LTTE, the proposed Texas court complaint provides a spurt of excitement, an opportunity to rally the faithful and keep the disgruntled voice of Tamil Eelam alive in the international community; for Fein, it surely is a respite in the midst of what must be a harsh winter following the reversal of his fortunes in recent months.

That includes the humiliating drubbing he received in a Federal court last month when US District Court Judge Audrey Collins (Central District of California) ordered him to pay attorney’s fees to a congressional candidate he had sued for revealing his LTTE connections to members of a local Republican group. In an order signed December 15, Collins granted defendant Pete Kesterson’s motion for attorney’s fees and costs in its entirety, a total of $35,650. the award follows Collins’ dismissal in August 2010 of Fein’s SLAPP (Strategic lawsuit against public participation) motion against Kesterson for defamation and seeking $2 million in damages.

Kesterson crossed Fein’s path when he ran against (Fein’s) wife Mattie in the Republican Primary in June 2010 for the California 36th Congressional District seat and tried to make fellow party members aware of the duo’s connection to a terrorist organisation.

In his complaint, Fein charged that at a political event attended by “ƒ”¹…”many campaign volunteers and prospective voters,’ as well as Mottie Fein, Kesterson made a statement to John Stammreich, a candidate who was running for California State Senate, that he was “ƒ”¹…”complicit in terrorist activity … and represented terrorist organisations listed by the United States government as Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTOs) in criminal violation of the federal prohibition on providing material assistance to an FTO.”

Fein accused Kesterson of acting with “ƒ”¹…”malice’ and “ƒ”¹…”ill will’ and “ƒ”¹…”reckless disregard of whether they were false or not.’ Fein also accused Kesterson of trying to gain “ƒ”¹…”political advantage’ by repeating the accusations several times at this and other events and insinuating that his “ƒ”¹…”imminent ex-wife is tainted with terrorism because of her past functional nexus with Plaintiff.’

In another instance, Fein said, upon learning that Stammreich and another candidate were planning to rent a common campaign office with Mattie Fein, Kesterson warned Stammreich to “ƒ”¹…”do some research on who you will be doing business with,’ adding that he should check out the Lichfield Group, a legal firm owned by the Feins which has lobbied for the tigers. Attorney Thomas Vidal, representing Kesterson, countered Bruce Fein’s lawsuit with an “ƒ”¹…”anti-SLAPP’ motion asking for dismissal. the case was heard by Judge Audrey Collins.

Legal battles

Collins is no stranger to the LTTE issue, having ruled several times in the long-drawn legal battle waged by the LTTE and Kurdistan Workers’ Party to remove sections of the “USA PATRIOT Act” that make it a crime to provide “ƒ”¹…”expert advice or assistance’ to designated terrorist organisations.

In a judgment favourable to the LTTE, Collins ruled in 2007 that the term “expert advice or assistance” is so vague that it could easily include “unequivocally pure speech and advocacy protected by the First Amendment.”

If Bruce Fein was expecting sympathy from Collins, he didn’t get it. She agreed with Kesterson that the statement he made linking the Feins to the LTTE was of “ƒ”¹…”extreme importance’ to the voters and candidates in his district. She found that Kesterson, who stated in court documents that he had first learned about the Fein-LTTE links from this writer, had taken adequate steps to establish the veracity of this information by conducting additional research on the internet and meeting with a group of Sri Lankans at a private home in January last year for a discussion.

Stating that Kesterson had provided published documents showing that Bruce Fein represented the pro-LTTE group “ƒ”¹…”Tamils for Justice’ and “ƒ”¹…”Tamils against Genocide’ and that those groups are LTTE fronts, she added: “Indeed, it appears that Fein has been outspoken on the issue of Tamils in Sri Lanka, including publishing a piece in the Boston Globe and participating in numerous interviews available on YouTube.”

Attempting to prove that Kesterson had acted with “ƒ”¹…”reckless disregard for the truth,’ Fein attacked Kesterson’s information sources, including a Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence article which he called “ƒ”¹…”unreliable and only government propaganda.” He also faulted Kesterson for not researching the credibility of a source (Prof. Rohan Gunaratne) quoted in a Toronto Star article that referred to Fein meeting with LTTE front groups in Canada.

However, Collins was unconvinced: “None of these attacks creates even a minimum probability that Fein could prove clearly and convincingly that Kesterson acted with reckless regard for the truth.” Collins threw out Fein’s case in its entirely and denied his motion for summary judgement.

Fein has filed an appeal.

The lawsuit was effective in hushing the Feins’ LTTE connections from reaching voters and might have helped in Mattie Fein’s victory over Kesterson at the June Primary. But the triumph was shortlived. Despite the mid term being a “ƒ”¹…”Republican tsunami,’ Mattie had a dismal showing at the November ballot, scraping just 34,74 percent against Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman who retained her seat comfortably (59.62 percent).

The Feins, who bragged on their “ƒ”¹…”The Lichfield Group’ website of “high level connections” with the Department of Justice, the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, The New York Times, The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal, have fished lucratively in the troubled waters of exile politics.

In 2007, Mattie, whose Iranian name is Mahtaub Hojjati, set up the “Institute for Persian Studies,” a “ƒ”¹…”think tank’ whose real objective was the overthrow of the Iranian government with the support of the Iranian diaspora. Bruce Fein is an “ƒ”¹…”adjunct scholar’ Assembly of Turkish American Associations and a “ƒ”¹…”resident scholar’ at the Turkish coalition of America organisations which have allegedly bribed and blackmailed a network of US lawmakers and government officials to ensure that the US does not recognise the Armenian Genocide. Fein’s hired scholarliness is reflected in op eds dutifully denying that the Armenian Genocide occurred. Armenian newspapers and websites don’t hide their loathing for Fein and accuse him of being “ƒ”¹…”a servant’ of the Turkish government.

But so far, only Kesterson has actually struck back on Fein’s own turf.

The Kesterson case, while reflective of Fein’s modus operandi of using nuisance lawsuits to censor and intimidate the opposition, casts serious doubts on his actual courtroom performance as an attorney. How could he expect to win that massive 800+page “ƒ”¹…”genocide’ lawsuit against Sri Lanka when he was unable to prevail in his own litigation? Perhaps, there’s a paradigm here for victims of Fein’s feckless lawsuit: SLAPP back!


One Response to “Pro-LTTE Attorney ordered to pay the defendant he sued: Bruce Fein gets drubbing in US Federal Court”

  1. Raj Says:

    Hassana Leelarthna, Thank you for these revelations.

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