The CCS was conceived as a human rights organization in 1972. Fred Pollack was Chair of the Executive Board and Ruth Levine was hired to be Executive Director. Jack Minker of the University of Maryland became first Computer Science Vice-Chair of CCS. Minker continues to serve in this capacity. Minker worked cooperatively with many different human right organizations some of who are: Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry (WCSJ) as Honorary Board Member; The Union Council of Soviet Jewry (UCSJ); Scientists for Sakharov, Orlov and Sharansky (SOS); Committee in Support of Alexander Y. Lerner (Chair); International Committee in Support of Sakharov (ICSS); Association for Computing Machinery [Vice-Chair of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights (ACM-CSFHR)].
Among his achievements under this umbrella, he garnered the support from Turing Award winners, chairs of departments of computer science and members of the ACM to send letters and telegrams to USSR presidents and ambassadors in support of refusenik computer scientists. He organized sessions at computer science conferences and obtained signatures of attendees in support of refusenik colleagues (e.g., Alexander Lerner and Anatoly Sharansky).
In 1975 Minker led the fight to have an open International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Tbilisi, Georgia, USSR. As a result of his efforts, coordinated with the Western Organizing Committee, Alexander Lerner actually participated as a panel member of a session despite the efforts of the KGB to bar him. Two other refuseniks, Drs. Gregory and Isai Goldstein, were also allowed to attend the conference.
In 1981, 1982, 1984 and 1989, Minker published four reports in the Communications of the ACM in which was detailed the plight of computer scientists whose human rights and scientific freedom had been violated. The countries found to be in violation were: Argentina, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Iran, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Uruguay and the USSR. A sum 304 individual computer scientists were named. These reports earned Minker the 1985 Outstanding Contribution Award for his work in human rights. Professor Anthony Ralston, Chair of the ACM-CSFHR and Board Member of CCS supported and made many constructive comments on the reports.
Working with the SOS, in May 1984, Minker led a delegation of 30 scientists to the Soviet Embassy in Washington to secure medical support for Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov and his wife and their release from internal exile in Gorky. He also proposed that the Soviets permit foreign physicians to visit the Sakharovs. The Soviets never responded to this initiative, but Sakharov was released from exile in 1986.
Minker edited the English in a paper handwritten by Viktor Brailovsky, had it typed and submitted it to the Transactions of the IEEE. It was accepted. Minker was also the English editor of a festschrift in honor of Alexander Lerner’s 70th birthday and together with refusenik scientists who had emigrated, found translators for the articles who were willing to do the work without pay in honor of their colleague. He also organized a reception and dinner in Israel to present a copy of the book to Lerner on June 14, 1990, after he had emigrated there.
Minker engaged the Congress and the U.S. Government in his efforts. Congressmen delivered his letters to refuseniks. He met with Dr. Frank Press, Scientific Advisor to the President, in quest of support for Lerner. He kept Ambassador Richard Schifter, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, informed about his activities and sent him copies of the ACM reports he had written.
The following CCS Executive Directors were instrumental and extremely important in providing information, advice and support for the activities: Ruth Levine, Lilli Chertoff (Cancillieri), Mark Mellman and Dorothy Hirsch.