Law And Politics -- Question Could Have Averted Inaccurate, Incomplete Report

In a recent article ("U.S. focuses on law firm's lobbying for Marianas," April 1), you departed from the subject matter to comment on my past involvement in African issues.

At no time during several lengthy interviews I gave your reporter did he ever ask me about these matters that he subsequently reported inaccurately or incompletely.

The story says that I once headed the International Freedom Foundation (IFF), that it was "pro-apartheid," and indicates that, while I headed the IFF, it was "financed in part by the South African military regime."

Nothing could be further from the truth. The IFF was a conservative group which I headed. It was vigorously anti-Communist, but it was also actively anti-apartheid.

In 1987, it was one of the first conservative groups to call for the release of Nelson Mandela, a position for which it was roundly criticized by other conservatives at the time. While I headed the IFF, we accepted funding only from private individuals and corporations and would have absolutely rejected any offer of South African military funding, or any other kind of funding from any government - good or evil.

Your story also says I "lobbied Republicans in Congress to get a U.S. entry visa for Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko." What your reporter did not say, as I would have told him, if asked, was that my efforts in 1995 relating to Zaire were to get the dictator to leave that country and turn over the reins to the forces of democracy.

Amazingly, Mobutu had agreed to do this, but only if he were able to come to the United States to announce that decision. He was rejected in this request and our effort failed.

As I told the Legal Times in July, 1995, "Everyone agrees that if something is not done soon, there are going to be millions of deaths in Zaire." Had we succeeded with this campaign, which I undertook in my personal capacity and on a pro bono bases, many lives might have been spared and the 1997 carnage in that region dramatically reduced.

This story should not have contained these irrelevant and harmful comments about me that a simple question could have corrected.

Jack Abramoff Seattle