- Husband of the longtime activist Cora Weiss
- Former board chairman of the Institute for Policy Studies
- Former vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights
- Former officer of the National Lawyers Guild’s NY chapter
- Former national council member of the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee
- Co-founder of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
- Board member of Americans for Peace Now
- Founding president of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
Born in 1925 in Vienna, Austria, Peter Weiss is an attorney who specializes in international law, and is a senior partner in a New York law firm. He was chairman of the Institute for Policy Studies‘ board of directors from 1963 until the 1990s. His wife, the longtime activist Cora Weiss, was also a key figure in the founding and administration of that Institute.
In the 1960s, Peter Weiss became a cooperating lawyer and vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. In the Sixties and early Seventies he was an officer of the New York chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and a national council member of the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee.
From the late Sixties through the 1970s, Weiss was active with the American Committee on Africa, then the chief support group for the Communist-controlled African National Congress (ANC), which was fighting to overthrow the white government of South Africa. This Committee sent a number of ANC members to the United States to meet with black American radicals.
In the mid-1970s Weiss tried to assist the radical West German attorney Kurt Gronewold, who had been convicted of running a communications network between incarcerated terrorists of the Red Army Faction, a self-described group of communist “urban guerrillas,” and their comrades who were still at large.
Following the 1976 assassination of Transnational Institute director Orlando Letelier (a former high official of the Marxist coalition government of Chile), Weiss continued Letelier’s solidarity work on behalf of the Chilean left. Many years later, he would play a key role in the international campaign to bring longtime Chilean president Augusto Pinochet to trial as a war criminal.
In 1977 Weiss led a delegation to the Philippines to publicize reports that the government there was torturing political prisoners. This delegation was sponsored by two front groups for the Communist Party of the Philippines: the Anti-Martial Law Coalition, and Friends of the Filipino People.
In 1979 Weiss was a signatory to a letter from the Southern Africa Working Group urging the Jimmy Carter administration not to recognize Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s moderate black-majority government in Zimbabwe. Early the following year, Muzorewa lost his country’s presidential election to the committed Leninist Robert Mugabe, who ran a corrupt campaign rife with voter intimidation and thuggery.
In 1981 Weiss and other influential National Lawyers Guild (NLG) members (including Martin Popper of the Communist Party USA) founded the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP). Seven years later, Weiss was the founding president of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.
In the 1980s, Weiss, along with such individuals as Richard Falk and Tom Harkin, served on the board of directors of Interlink, the U.S. affiliate of the global news agency Inter Press Service (IPS). IPS had previously cultivated noteworthy ties to Philip Agee (a Cuban/KGB agent who was friends with IPS London bureau chief Phil Kelly), and to Orlando Letelier (the late KGB agent and onetime Transnational Institute director who was a personal friend of IPS founder Roberto Savio).
In 2007, Weiss and several fellow NLG members (including Marjorie Cohn) testified at a House Judiciary Committee Public Policy Forum on the Bush/Cheney administration’s alleged violations of international law vis à vis the Iraq War. Their testimony laid the foundation for NLG’s unanimous November 2007 vote in favor of a resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
Weiss remains a prominent member of NLG to this day. He also continues to serve on the board of directors of the Center for Constitutional Rights, with which he has been affiliated for decades. Further, he is a board member of Americans for Peace Now, which advocates Palestinian statehood, an end to Israel’s “blockade” of Gaza, and the cessation of Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
For more information on Peter Weiss, click here.
1 James L. Tyson, Target America (Chicago: Regnery Gateway, 1981), pp. 2, 200