Fitzgerald Threatens To Sue Publisher Over Book

The top federal prosecutor in Chicago is threatening to sue publisher HarperCollins, calling a book about the war on terrorism that focuses in part on cases he handled "a deliberate lie masquerading as the truth."

If HarperCollins publishes the new edition of "Triple Cross" by Peter Lance this month "and it defames me or casts me in a false light, HarperCollins will be sued," Patrick Fitzgerald said in a letter to the New York-based company.

The book focuses on, among other things, major terrorism cases that Fitzgerald prosecuted when he was an assistant U.S. attorney in New York in the 1990s.

Its content goes beyond normal criticism, which "goes with the territory" for public figures, Fitzgerald told The Associated Press on Monday.

"This is different," he said. "The book lied about the facts and alleged that I deliberately misled the courts and the public in ways that in part caused the deaths in the 1998 embassy bombing attacks and in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."

Fitzgerald said the lives lost in those attacks were personal for him and he decided to stand up for himself because "it is outrageous to falsely accuse me of causing those deaths corruptly."

The author said Fitzgerald has tried to "kill" the book with "baseless" allegations.

"Patrick Fitzgerald accuses me of making charges in the book that I never made," Lance said. "At the same time, he continually fails to respond to the substantive allegations documented in 604 pages, 1,425 end notes and 32 pages of documentary appendices."

He said the book was revetted "out of an abundance of caution" and because the accusations were made by Fitzgerald, known for successfully prosecuting prominent terrorism and public corruption cases.

The new edition with 26 additional pages and an introduction responding to Fitzgerald will be published June 16, Lance said.

HarperCollins spokeswoman Erin Crum and publisher Jonathan Burnham did not immediately return telephone calls on Monday.

Fitzgerald has been U.S. attorney in Chicago since September 2001. He won a conviction against former Illinois Gov. George Ryan for political corruption, and as a special prosecutor successfully presented the case against former vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of lying to a grand jury in the CIA leak investigation.

As an assistant U.S. attorney in New York he successfully prosecuted major terrorism cases such as those responsible for the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa and Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called "blind sheik" convicted in 1995 of plotting to bomb the Holland Tunnel and other key sites around the city.