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:


Staff, sponsors Signers of letters, etc.

Undated letter apparently from 1973;


Signers of letters


Sponsors Undated brochure from 1974



  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??