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Clark and Meese lead effort to keep ‘Peace through Strength’ free for all to use

Senior Reagan Officials Denounce American Security Council Foundation for Trademarking Reagan Slogan

By --December 11, 2012

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Admiral says ASCF has been ‘AWOL’ for years;

American Security Council Foundation is accused of ‘a scheme of fraudulent misrepresentation’

WASHINGTON – Top national security aides to former President Ronald Reagan denounced the attempt by a Florida-based group to trademark “Peace through Strength,” the slogan that America’s 40th president made as a hallmark of his successful strategy to end the Cold War.

Two of President Reagan’s closest friends and confidantes, former National Security Advisor William P. Clark and former Counselor to the President Edwin Meese, led a host of top Reagan national security aides criticizing the American Security Council Foundation (ASCF) for its efforts to prevent others from using the Reagan slogan.

Signatories include members of Reagan’s National Security Council staff, White House, State Department and Pentagon officials, and a subsequent director of the CIA. Read the letter to the American Security Council Foundation (PDF)

Last year, ASCF trademarked “Peace through Strength,” a slogan that President Reagan popularized and that the U.S. Navy designated as the official motto of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier that bears The Gipper’s name. ASCF announced its intention to sue anyone using it without their expressed permission.

In October, ASCF filed a federal lawsuit against the Center for Security Policy, a group headed by a former Reagan defense official that, like many groups, has used the slogan for years. On learning of the lawsuit, Clark, Meese and others wrote to ASCF Chairman Henry Fischer, notifying him of their opposition. Fischer is a dentist in Sebastian, Florida, who has headed ASCF since 2002.

Excerpts from the bipartisan letter to the ASCF Chairman:

  • “We are writing as members of Ronald Reagan’s administration to express our strong opposition to any effort to trademark or otherwise restrict the use of the term ‘Peace through Strength.’”
  • “For those of us who proudly served with President Reagan, it is unimaginable that anyone would seek to own a phrase immortalized by him – and, as a result, made not only an enduring feature of our country’s political lexicon, but a touchstone for all those who love freedom, and understand what is required to safeguard it.”
  • “We agree with our colleague, former Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet Admiral James A. ‘Ace’ Lyons, that our purpose should be to encourage the widest possible and unrestricted application of the phrase ‘Peace through Strength’ and the principle it invokes. We call on you to do no less.”

Admiral Lyons wrote to Fischer in October, saying that “peace through strength” long ago “entered the national psyche as a term no one can properly ‘own.’” He added, “It behooves everyone who truly embraces the principle of peace through strength to be working to expand its application, not restrict it in any way.”

Admiral Lyons told Fischer that he would “strenuously resist any effort to expropriate the term ‘peace through strength’ for the purpose of disallowing its use by others – particularly those who have steadfastly adhered to and exemplified it when your organization has been basically AWOL from this fight.”

‘A scheme of fraudulent misrepresentation’

The Center for Security Policy has responded to ASCF’s lawsuit by declaring that ASCF made a “sworn statement” to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that was “materially false,” that ASCF acted in “bad faith” and “recklessly disregarded the facts,” and was “purposefully misrepresenting material facts to the USPTO” when it applied for the trademark.

The Center’s Answer and Counterclaims in federal district court accused ASCF of “a scheme of fraudulent misrepresentation.”  The Center is represented by David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise, both of the American Freedom Law Center.  Yerushalmi also serves as the Center’s general counsel. Read the Center for Security’s response to ASCF’s lawsuit (PDF).

When asked to comment after filing the counterclaims against ASCF, Yerushalmi noted, “According to ASCF’s absurd claim to a trademark, apparently even the Republican Party will have to seek ASCF’s permission to include the call for ‘Peace through Strength’ in its political platform going forward.  That is how absurd this trademark claim is.”

Signers of the letter

The letter to ASCF, dated December 10, 2012, was signed by the following members of the Reagan national security team. The individuals, with their Reagan-era titles, are as follows:

  • William P. Clark, National Security Advisor
  • Edwin Meese, Counselor to the President
  • Norman A. Bailey, Special Assistant to the President
  • Diana Denman, Co-Chairman, Peace Corps Advisory Board
  • Kenneth E. DeGraffenreid, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director, Intelligence Programs, National Security Council
  • William R. Graham, Science Advisor
  • Sven Kraemer, Director of Arms Control, National Security Council
  • Charles M. Kupperman, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for White House Administration
  • Ronald F. Lehman, Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • Robert C. McFarlane, National Security Advisor
  • Tidal W. McCoy, Secretary of the Air Force (Acting)
  • Richard N. Perle, Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Roger W. Robinson, Jr., Senior Director, International Economic Affairs, National Security Council
  • William Schneider, Jr., Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology
  • Major General John Singlaub (USA Ret.), Advisor on Central America
  • Michelle Van Cleave, Assistant Director for National Security Affairs, Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • R. James Woolsey, Chief Negotiator, Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (and future Director of the CIA)

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