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Larry Klayman, once a hero of conservatives for persistently taking Bill Clinton to court, sued former aides and financial backers of President Bush on Monday for using the name “Freedom’s Watch” to mount a multimillion-dollar campaign in support of the war in Iraq.
In the federal lawsuit, Klayman accuses the group of appropriating a name he has used to promote his own public interest legal work. Klayman, who lives in Miami, said he first used the name Freedom Watch in 2004 on behalf of his nonprofit legal and educational activities and later registered it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
What’s more, Klayman said, he opposes the ongoing war in Iraq. He said he supported toppling Saddam Hussein, but he said he believes the United States should now “let the Iraqis sort everything out.”
“The Iraq war does not promote freedom, it promotes chaos and anarchy and instability,” he said in an interview.
Freedom’s Watch is a new organization formed last month and financed by former Bush aides and Republican fundraisers. It is mounting a $15 million advertising campaign across the country to pressure Democrats and wavering Republicans not to interfere with Bush’s Iraq strategy.
Klayman emerged in the 1990s after founding a Washington watchdog group called Judicial Watch, which he used to file a number of lawsuits against Bill and Hillary Clinton and Clinton’s administration. But Klayman, a libertarian by nature, has built a reputation as a prolific litigant. Targets of his complaints have included Vice President Dick Cheney, former House Republican Leader Tom DeLay, Osama bin Laden and Fidel Castro.
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Larry Klayman is filing another lawsuit with absolutely no validity,” said Freedom’s Watch spokesman Matt David.
Though Klayman did file to register the name Freedom Watch with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2004, the federal agency last year listed its status as abandoned. Agency records show that Klayman filed for registration again on Aug. 23 of this year, a day after Freedom’s Watch announced its advertising campaign. The corporate registration for Freedom Watch also was revoked a year ago, but Klayman reactivated it since Aug. 24, records show.
“It’s clear this is a shakedown for money,” David said.
Klayman ran a full-page ad in The Washington Times in July promoting Freedom Watch, evidence he says of his continuing use of the name.