National Forum Foundation, extract from The "Terrorism" Industry

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The National Forum Foundation came into existence in 1982 as the successor organization to the Coalition for Decency, organized in 1977 by Jeremiah Denton, a former naval officer and prisoner of war in Vietnam. Denton, elected senator from Alabama in 1980, was quickly elevated to the chairmanship of the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism. NFF was designed initially to educate the public on the fallacies of the nuclear freeze movement, but it soon took on larger functions in the wake of Denton's new recognition of the terrorist threat and his strong belief in the Soviet network theory of terrorism.

Funded by Right Wing foundations

Run by Senator Denton's son, James Denton, NFF grew rapidly with the aid of contributions from the William Coors Foundation, W. R. Grace and Company, Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Olin Foundation, Parrot Oil, and the Scaife Family Foundation. The organization is housed in the Heritage Foundation building. With a budget of over $1 million in 1984, the NFF sponsored a number of conferences, seminars, and press conferences on terrorism, and published a series of monographs and short studies on terrorism in its Policy Forum series. The first of the conferences was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on 21 February 1986, and featured Yonah Alexander of the State University of New York's Institute for the Study of International Terrorism (lSIT). Among the other participants were Louis O. Giuffrida, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Oliver Revell of the FBI, Ambassador L. Bruce Laingen, and Peter Goss of the British-based company Control Risks Ltd., a "risk analysis" and insurance company with ties to the British intelligence community [...]. [1]

Alexander, formerly of CSIS, a member of the board of directors of Ray Cline's U.S. Global Strategy Council, and with his own institute (ISIT), was made a "distinguished scholar" at NFF, and put in charge of its program on terrorism. Alexander and James Denton together edited the conference proceedings, collected as 'Governmental Responses to Terrorism'. On September 15, 1986, NFF hosted Alexander at a special press conference arranged to allow him to report on a recent fact-finding tour of the Middle East and to promote his then most recent book, 'Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?' At the press conference, held in the Zenger Room of Washington's National Press Club, Alexander was joined by Michael Ledeen of CSIS and JINSA, and Nathan Adams of 'Reader's Digest'. There, journalists such as Richard Harwood of the Washington Post and Charles Lewis, bureau chief of the Associated Press, were regaled with "new information" on Libya's role in promoting terrorism and shown several graphic anti-American posters as "evidence" of Arab terrorism.

Denton on 'Terror"

James Denton has produced several articles dealing with terrorism. In a 'National Review' piece coauthored with NFF policy analyst Peter Schweizer, entitled "Murdering SDI" (31 July 1987), Denton speculated that a series of murders, suicides, and a disappearance involving European engineers and scientists working on projects related to the Strategic Defense Initiative, or so-called Star Wars program, were, in actuality, terrorist hits orchestrated by the Soviets. The evidence provided was not compelling. The authors do not distinguish between SDI and other high-tech and defense-related industries -- one of the victims was a computer salesman -- and they do not mention the total numbers working in these sectors which would allow a calculation of probabilities. Only three of the alleged sixteen terrorist actions were linked to the SDI in terrorist communiques, [2] and the tie-in with the Soviet Union was entirely speculative. New Jersey Republican Congressman James Courter, a regular participant in Heritage and NFF, functions, entered the Schweizer-Denton article in the Congressional Record on July 22,1987, prefacing the piece with the statement that "Murdering SDI" provided evidence that not only "merited headlines" but also allegedly proved the "confluence of interests -- at the very least -- between the leftist terrorist international and the U.S.S.R., which has made many official efforts to kill SDI." [3]

Facts have never bothered the NFF's James Denton. A vociferous supporter of the contras, Denton, along with the NFF, has sponsored several "fact-finding" trips to Central America in order to visit and interview contra leaders in the field. In a 'Wall Street Journal' op-ed column (April 23, 1985), Denton dismissed Reed Brody's report on contra atrocities as a "Sandinista-sponsored document," essentially attributing all reports of contra human rights violations to propaganda manufactured in Managua. [4] On 24 July 1988, Denton published a letter in the 'New York Review of Books' attacking Aryeh Neier of Americas Watch for having identified the NFF as "propagandists for the contras" in an article published on March 17, 1988. Denton demanded an apology, but Neier responded by citing Associated Press coverage of a March 1987 press conference at which NFF officials, led by Denton, stated that they would continue visiting congressional offices "to emphasize the need for continued financial support for Nicaraguan 'freedom fighters: "


In addition to its concern over Sandinista terrorism, the NFF has been very greatly interested in South Africa, with special attention to the possible ill effects of any Western governmental sanctions and the violent tendencies of the ANC. An October 1987 issue of NFF's 'Policy Forum' provided an assemblage of quotations purportedly showing the ANC's link to the communist movement and its propensity toward revolutionary violence. This paralleled the Denton subcommittee's hearings on the ANC, which had a similar emphasis. Neither NFF nor the subcommittee has ever put forth materials on or expressed concern over South African terrorist violence against its indigenous population or neighboring countries.

Senator Jeremiah Denton's hearings on terrorism were also devoted to tarring Denton's political opponents with the terrorist brush. Among the groups attacked for providing "support" for Soviet and Cuban terrorist operations, Denton's favorite: was the National Lawyers Guild, [5]50 and any group supporting the nuclear freeze was likely to be found, at minimum, an unwitting agent of the KGB. Denton's "witness list" reads like a veritable who's who of the terrorism industry: Michael Ledeen, Robert Moss, Arnaud de Borchgrave, and Claire Sterling, among others, lent their 'voices to the subcommittee hearings, as did numerous members of the intelligence and police communities. In many ways, the NFF is the institutional embodiment of the principles adhered to by Denton, and it has carried on the former senator's ideological program since his defeat in the 1984 elections.

References and Resources



  1. The information in this and the following paragraph are taken from issues of NFF Update, an NFF monthly, for 1986.
  2. One of the "terrorist" actions dissolved before "Murdering SDl" appeared in print. In May 1987, Marconi Space and Defense Systems researcher Avtar Singh Gida, who had mysteriously disappeared, turned up safe and sound, working in Paris under an assumed name, as reported by Agence France Press, 21 May 1987.
  3. Several reports and studies subsequently appeared making identical claims based upon the same information. Just a few weeks after the appearance of the Denoon-Schweizer essay in National Review and its subsequent entry in the Congressional Record, Canada's Mackenzie Institute for the Study of Terrorism, Revolution and Propaganda, directed by former British intelligence officer Maurice Tugwell, published Randall Heather's Terrorism, "Active Measures," and SDI (Mackenzie Paper no. 3). Heather's study was little more than a rehash of the charges made in the Schweizer-Denton article.
  4. The Brody report was based on 145 carefully gathered affidavits from victims and witnesses. The veracity of the Brody affidavits was attested to by independent sources. See Brody, Contra Terror in Nicaragua, pp. 129-30. Brody's findings on systematic contra atrocities have been confirmed by numerous other authoritative sources, including Americas Watch in report after report. See chapter 3, note 4.
  5. Domestic Security Investigation Guuulines, Hearings on S.2, 92nd Cong., 1982, p. 3; see also Pell, Big Chill, p. 193.