Web site won’t oppose adding Jane Fonda to ‘traitor list’ lawsuit

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — An Internet site that calls former U.S. Sen. James Abourezk a traitor will not legally oppose adding Jane Fonda and another woman to Abourezk's lawsuit against the Web page, according to court documents.

Abourezk, who's of Arab descent, was a Democratic U.S. senator from 1973 to 1979 and now practices law in Sioux Falls. He accused ProBush.com of libel for putting him on a “traitor's list” for criticizing President Bush.

Also named as defendants are Michael Marino, the site's editor and publisher, and Ben Marino, co-owner. The headquarters of ProBush.com is in West Point, Penn., according to court documents.

Abourezk sued last year after his name and photograph showed up on the list along with those of several others, including Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, former first lady and current Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and actress Susan Sarandon.

The list contains dozens of others, including: radio hosts Howard Stern and Casey Kasem; actors Johnny Depp, Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, Martin Sheen, Julia Roberts and George Clooney; politicians Al Gore, Al Sharpton, Jimmy Carter and Ted Kennedy; musicians Madonna, Tom Petty, Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks; and movie makers Michael Moore and Oliver Stone.

Abourezk, who seeks $2 million in actual damages, $3 million in punitive damages and a retraction, had been critical of the war in Iraq. He was part of a four-person delegation that traveled to Syria and Iraq in 2002.

ProBush.com has said in court documents that the First Amendment protects political statements such as those on the Web site, labeling the list “satirical and politically expressive.”

Atop the “traitor list” page is this statement: “Parody. Not to be taken seriously. These 'traitors' are not legal traitors of the United States.”

According to a letter filed this week in federal court, a lawyer indicated the ProBush.com site would withdraw its opposition to adding Fonda and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz as plaintiffs.

Fonda is an actress and civil activist known for her opposition to the Vietnam War. Dunbar-Ortiz is an author, historian, professor and part of the women's movement.

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