Book released despite threats from federal prosecutor

Caitlin Dickson | Libel | Quicklink | June 16, 2009

The author of a book that has come under fire from Illinois prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald held a press conference today at the National Press Club in Washington, responding to Fitzgerald's threats of a libel lawsuit with the release of a new edition.

Peter Lance rang in the release of the paperback issue of his book, "Triple Cross, How Bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI," with a lengthy description of his research findings. He also addressed Fitzgerald's threats to sue HarperCollins for false light or libel if it printed the new version; Fitzgerald has said the book contains false allegations against him regarding his involvement in terrorism cases in Manhattan.

Lance called the dispute "a pure censorship story," and suggested that Fitzgerald is particularly sensitive to the issues discussed in the book because if they prove true, the prosecutor could face legal fallout of his own.

 The author asked attorney Jan Schlichtmann to speak on his behalf; Schlichtmann is perhaps best known for his involvement in the legal case on which the movie "A Civil Action" was based. Schlichtmann said he had no idea whether Lance's conclusions were credible, but said that didn't matter. Rather, he was there to support "Peter Lance's right to write."

"That is our strongest bulwark against the danger that surrounds us," Schlichtman said, adding that "[Fitzgerald]'s job is to uphold the laws, and he can't uphold the laws by slamming down our freedoms."