Political Rights Defense Fund

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The Political Rights Defense Fund


The Political Rights Defense Fund was established in the early 1970's to fight FBI and other law enforcement agencies' surveillance of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party and its youth arm, the Young Socialist Alliance . The SWP was an old communist party that followed Leon Trotsky and his teachings as opposed to those of Joseph Stalin. The SWP was an illegal member of the Trotskyite Fourth International, based in France.

The most detailed government hearing on the SWP was held by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee SISS on July 24, 1975, "Trotskyite Terrorist International"with many internal domestic and foreign documents included as exhibits. Additional hearings with materials on the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialist Alliance appeared in the HISC series of hearings and reports pertaining to the so-called "anti-Vietnam peace movement."

A privately published report of the ACU Education and Research Institute, also entitled Trotskyite Terrorist International contained one of the more complete lists of PRDF staff and sponsors.

These publications of the HCUA, HISC and SISS were:

  • Communist Origin and Manipulation of Vietnam Week (April 8-15) 1967", HISC, March 31, 1967, hearing.
  • Extent of Subversion in Campus Disorders: Testimony of Max P. Friedman, Part 2", SISS, August 16, 1969, hearing.
  • New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, Part 1 (April 7-9,15, 1970) and Part II, June 9-11, 1970, HISC, hearings.
  • Subversive Involvement in the Origin, Leadership, and Activities of the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and Its predecessor Organizations, Staff Study, HISC, 1970 (Identifications of numerous SWP/YSA and CPUSA members in the anti-Vietnam movement are found not only in the body of the study but also are directed cited to primary sources in the Footnote section.
  • The Second Front of the Vietnam War: Communist Subversion in the Peace Movement", Congressional Record, April 21, 1971. It was reprinted by Western Islands, Massachusetts, as ""The Viet Cong Front in the United States", Rep. John G. Schmitz, Fletcher Thompson and Roger H. Zion.
  • National Peace Action Coalition and Peoples Coalition for Peace & Justice, HISC, Part 1, May 18-21, 1971; Part 2, June 15-17, 1971; Part 3, July 13-15, 1971; and Part 4, July 20-22 and June 17, 1971.
  • Communists in the Trotsky Mold: A Report on the Socialist Workers Party and the Young Socialist Alliance, HISC, 1971]]

An extensive series of reports were put into the "Congressional Record" during the 1970's by Rep. Larry McDonald (D-Ga) on the SWP, YSA and most of its major fronts, including their support of international terrorist movements. These will be added here as found.

As mentioned, the SWP set up the PRDF as their legal front in fighting government internal security surveillance, especially the "COINTELLPRO" program of surveillance and disruption. Despite the fact that the government presented a court significant evidences that the SWP was illegally a member of the terrorism-supporting "Fourth International", the case of illegal surveillance was found against the Government with penalties including the most important one, namely that the FBI and other government agencies could no longer conduct security surveilances on them.

Many PRDF documents did not have a date on them, so the approximate date (year) is often inferred from its content and is often checked against articles in The Militant, the official SWP weekly, on these mentioned events for more accuracy.

Advisory Board

As at July 22, 1975, the following were members of the Advisory Board:


April-May 1973 No. 2 PRDF News (Letter)

The PRDF's "PRDF News" of April-May 1973, No. 2, contained a number of articles on government (esp. FBI) surveillance of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and its' youth arm, the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA). The articles were:

  • "FBI Admits Spying" - White House Tapes Sought, about the FBI's "COINTELLPRO" programs
  • "Watergate suit in the news"
  • "FBI "Black Disruption Programs"
  • "Notables attend PRDF benefit"

The PRDF held a fundraising "Evening for the Bill of Rights" in New York City (date not given). "Eighty people attended the cocktail party -- including five on the White House "Enemies List" -- and contributed over $5,000 to the PRDF's efforts. Those people listed as attending were:

Other Sponsors included:

Another article in this same newsletter was entitled "Black and labor leaders support PRDF" and its full text is a follows:

"To broaden public support, the PRDF has recently made a special effort to obtain endorsements from trade unionists and Black leaders.

Lou Antal, president of District Five, United Mine Workers (UMW), announced his support 'in view of the widespread and illegal, as well as unconstitutional activities, and the allegations brought on by the Watergate case.'

Jim Vallas, vice president of [{Local 585]], [{Service Employees International Union]] (SEIU) and member of Pittsburgh's 7-11 Reform Democratic Club, was instrumental in obtaining the club's unanimous endorsement for the suit. He pointed out that 'anyone, including any of us, is open to the same treatment as the socialists if we dissent from the policies of the White House.'

One union that has been the target of government hostilities is theUnited Farm Workers (UFW) union. Since 1968, the Pentagon has purchased millions of pounds of non-union grapes and lettuce in an effort to subvert the UFW organizing. UFW sponsors include

and many local organizers and boycott directors

The membership of AFSCME Local 1880 Detroit Local 1880 in Detroit voted unanimously to endorse the PRDF and contribute toward local expenses. In Los Angeles, the executive board, membership and president [{Rhea Butler]] of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1061 endorsed. Members of both unions consider support as defending their own right to speak out.

Other labor endorses include

Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) have become PRDF sponsors:

Rangel called PRDF's campaign an effort 'to ensure all people the rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution of the United States.'

Other Black elected officials endorsing the PRDF are:

Longtime PRDF sponsors include:

End of article

Staff, sponsors Signers of letters, etc.

Undated letter apparently from 1973;


Signers of letters


Sponsors Undated brochure from 1974 entitled "Defend Your Political Rights":

Another PRDF list from around 1974 with a mail-in donation slip "funds urgently needed" - while it is duplicative of many of the names listed in the other pamphlets and brochures, this one had noteworthy additional names of communists and radicals: Sponsors: Partial List


  1. Revolutionary Activities within the United States: The American Indian Movement, hearings, SISS, April 6, 1976; Revolutionary Activities Within the United States: The American Indian Movement - Report, SISS, September 1976
  2. AIM NewsletterAccuracy in Media Newsletter, 19??