Blind Sheik's Lawyer Gets 28 Months in Jail

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Lynne Stewart, the 67-year-old rights lawyer who spent a lifetime helping unpopular defendants and political causes, was sentenced Monday to 28 months in prison for helping an imprisoned Egyptian sheik unlawfully communicate with followers.

Stewart, who lost her law license after her 2005 conviction in the case, was facing up to 30 years in prison but caught a break from U.S. District Court Judge John Koeltl. He cited her years of advocacy for the poor and downtrodden as a reason for a lenient term behind bars.

Full Chicago Tribune story here.

In 2004, Jarrett Decker wrote about the case for Reason. A snippet:

Lynne Stewart makes an implausible civil liberties heroine. She has expressed admiration for Abdel Rahman's decidedly illiberal vision of "positive social change," arguing that the radical Islamic revolution he seeks is "the only hope" for various oppressed peoples in the Middle East. She maintains that American criticism of the Taliban's treatment of women is a case of "the pot calling the kettle black" because of supposedly comparable discrimination against women here….

Yet Stewart's prosecution has revealed a broad and troubling Justice Department strategy. This strategy goes far beyond the need to make sure lawyers abide by restrictions on prisoner communications—restrictions motivated by the legitimate security concerns that cases like this raise. For that purpose, it would be sufficient to criminalize attorney violations of the restrictions known as "special administrative measures" (SAMs), which have been used since the Clinton administration to prevent Abdel Rahman and other imprisoned terrorists from communicating (directly or indirectly) with their supporters on the outside. Instead, the Justice Department is pursuing a course that threatens the Sixth Amendment right to legal representation by exposing just about any attorney who represents a suspected terrorist to the risk of prosecution, thereby discouraging lawyers from taking such cases or, if they do, from representing their clients zealously.

Whole story here.

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  1. Lynne Stewart is a disgrace to the profession. She says that “all lawyers” would do what she did, yet I know very few who enter into agreements with no intention of keeping their end of the bargain. One an attorney can’t be taken at his or her word (a la Stewart), the whole system breaks down. While Stewart clearly did not deserve more than she got, she is a disgrace, and even left wing lawyers know that your word is the only thing you have.

  2. Yeah, treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue is definitely the right approach. Lets bring all the guys up from GITMO and give them a trial. A few months in Federal prison ought to change their outlook.

  3. I’ve got some kerosene, Stephen, if you need help burning that straw.

  4. “Yeah, treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue is definitely the right approach.”

    Yeah, treating terrorism as a military issue seems to be working out so well. Let’s continue the policy of president as sole judge, jury, and executioner of this war until, of course, the presidency changes party hands. Then, we shall see Macklin quietly change teams, like a skulking rat.

  5. I work for BIC – I’ve got a few dozen lighters in my office so I think I’m all set. But thanks for the offer.

  6. I do nothing like a skulking rat.

    I also do not think the military is the only answer. Clearly, however, this case demonstrates a lack of seriousness in certain parts of the judiciary.

    As for the president being the sole executioner of this war – try going back and reading the congressional authorization for the use of military force. Then go back and read through every congressional action funding the war. No matter how much you’d like to believe it, this is not a one man show.

  7. “try going back and reading the congressional authorization for the use of military force”

    You mean the one that authorizes the President to decide whether, when, and how we go to war?

  8. Yes, the resolution in which the Congress authorized the President to take military action.

    If you don’t feel that resolution represents sufficient Congressional invilvement – blame Congress.

  9. “Yes, the resolution in which the Congress authorized the President to take military action.”

    …without setting conditions on how, when, and where it is to be taken.

    “If you don’t feel that resolution represents sufficient Congressional invilvement – blame Congress.” I blame the Congress that passed the bill, and the President who requested it.

  10. “Yes, the resolution in which the Congress authorized the President to take military action.”

    …without setting conditions on whether, how, when, and where it is to be taken.

    “If you don’t feel that resolution represents sufficient Congressional invilvement – blame Congress.” I blame the Congress that passed the bill, and the President who requested it.

  11. “Yes, the resolution in which the Congress authorized the President to take military action.”

    …without setting conditions on whether, how, when, and where it is to be taken.

    “If you don’t feel that resolution represents sufficient Congressional invilvement – blame Congress.” I blame the Congress that passed the bill, and the President who requested it.

  12. Joe,

    You should also blame a very large portion of the American population who supported it also. We should also blame those who opposed it and didn’t do enough to stop it.

    Maybe throw a little blame back in time to previous administrations and Congresses who did nothing to address the growing threat of terrorism.

    There are very few who can escape the finger of blame for the current state of affairs.

  13. Can we also blame the terrorists just a little?

  14. “You should also blame a very large portion of the American population who supported it also. We should also blame those who opposed it and didn’t do enough to stop it.”

    You screwed up, Flounder. You trusted us.

    Uh, no, I don’t blame people who tried to stop a President and majority party who were determined to go to war, badly, from doing so. Nor can I really blame people for taking them at their word when they asserted, less than a year after 9/11, that there was a serious threat that needed to be dealt with immediately.

    “Can we also blame the terrorists just a little?”

    For what they’ve done, absolutely. For the behavior of the administration and Congress when they reacted, no, not at all. The terrorists are not to blame for our bungling into Iraq, any more than they are to be given credit for the overthrow of the Taliban. That’s all on us – or rather, on you all.

  15. “You should also blame a very large portion of the American population who supported it also. We should also blame those who opposed it and didn’t do enough to stop it.”

    You screwed up, Flounder. You trusted us.

    Uh, no, I don’t blame people who tried to stop a President and majority party who were determined to go to war, badly, from doing so. Nor can I really blame people for taking them at their word when they asserted, less than a year after 9/11, that there was a serious threat that needed to be dealt with immediately.

    “Can we also blame the terrorists just a little?”

    For what they’ve done, absolutely. For the behavior of the administration and Congress when they reacted, no, not at all. The terrorists are not to blame for our bungling into Iraq, any more than they are to be given credit for the overthrow of the Taliban. The responsibility for those lies with the conservative and neoconservative faction of our soceity in the first case, and the United States as a whole in the second case.

  16. No ones above the law not even a lawyer and it looks like one has been snagged

  17. She maintains that American criticism of the Taliban’s treatment of women is a case of “the pot calling the kettle black” because of supposedly comparable discrimination against women here….

    Wow, I hate to sound like Mike Savage, but he’s got a case that liberalism is a mental disorder.

  18. He cited her years of advocacy for the poor and downtrodden as a reason for a lenient term behind bars.

    Yeah, like the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground.

    I can’t decide whether she’s deluded or evil for helping someone like Abdel Rahman communicate with his followers. He’s entitled to representation, of course, but she went way the hell beyond that. Note that the postal worker who was the recipient of Rahman’s messages got socked with a huge sentence. Probably because he’s not a leftist lawyer.

    I don’t buy the notion that her prosecution will deter representation of unpopular defendants. This is no different than the prosecution of a mob consigliere. She went over the line from representation to participation. End of story.

  19. I’ve been waiting for this.

    It will be interesting to see how this is spun. No doubt some idiotic/dishonest supporters/bleeding hearts will falsely champion her as a liberal (almost the opposite of what she is, as Joe has pointed out), and GOP/”conservtive” pundit types (for want of a more accurate term) will try and associate her with the term liberal.

    It will be interesting to watch how the game pans out this time around. As usual, control of the Democrat’s image will be very important for the upcoming election, and will influenced by these events.

  20. I think I saw this Law and Order, except it was white folks being crazy in that episode.

  21. I’ve been waiting for this.

    It will be interesting to see how this is spun. No doubt some idiotic/dishonest supporters/bleeding hearts will falsely champion her as a liberal (almost the opposite of what she is, as Joe has pointed out), and GOP/”conservtive” pundit types (for want of a more accurate term) will try and associate her with the term liberal.

    It will be interesting to watch how the game pans out this time around. As usual, control of the Democrat’s image will be very important for the upcoming election, and will influenced by these events.

  22. “Maybe throw a little blame back in time to previous administrations and Congresses who did nothing to address the growing threat of terrorism.”
    Interesting. Bill Clinton got closer to Bin Laden using the law enforcement model than GW Bush has using the military model. There were no foreign attacks on America during Clinton, and the most catastrophic act of terrorism committed during Bush’s tenure. Yet you wish to focus blame on Clinton for not taking care of Bush’s problems. Cinton didn’t get Bin Laden, but BL was certainly on the terror radar. Remember, Condi Rice was briefed about his alleged plots?

    Stephen Macklin: I’m not very much interested in all the giant pussies who wouldn’t speak out, before the invasion, against this stupid, stupid war for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. That goes for all of Congress (though to be fair, Bush has treated his authorization to use force more like a declaration of war), the president, and you. There were a lot of anti-war folks before the stupid, stupid invasion. To downplay that is silly. I am not bound by a pussified middle America when it comes to addressing the war. I’m not some jackass in Kansas screaming to send other peoples’ kids to die so that I can feel slightly more safe.

    Blame whoever you want to blame for our inept president. Blame middle America, blame Congress, blame gays, I don’t particularly care. I blame the GOP, the President and you.

  23. “Bill Clinton got closer to Bin Laden using the law enforcement model than GW Bush has using the military model.”

    That’s not actually true. The military was quite close to bin Laden at Tora Bora. It was only the partucularly inept military model Bush used that saved him from capture or death.

    “There were no foreign attacks on America during Clinton…”

    Uh, the first WTC attacks?

  24. “There were no foreign attacks on America during Clinton…”

    I believe embassies in foreign countries are also considered U.S. territory.

    And by my definition, attempting to sink a U.S. warship is an attack on America as well.

    And if you really want to believe that al Qaeda planned an operation, moved people into this country, had them trained as pilots, and executed the largest terrorist attack ever in the eight months between Bush taking office and 9/11 you keep smoking whatever it is you’re smoking.

  25. There were no foreign attacks on America during Clinton, and the most catastrophic act of terrorism committed during Bush’s tenure. Yet you wish to focus blame on Clinton for not taking care of Bush’s problems. Cinton didn’t get Bin Laden, but BL was certainly on the terror radar. Remember, Condi Rice was briefed about his alleged plots?

    Lamar, are you purposefully ignoring the 1993 World Trade Center bombing? Or are you blaming George HW Bush for not stopping that one?

    The big problem with any argument defending Clinton for not stopping bin Laden is that for every year of Clinton’s presidency, al Qaeda attacked an US target of some sort: embassies, US citizens in Saudi Arabia, the USS Cole, etc.

    Unfortunately, we, the citizens of the US, were blind to the growing danger of these attacks. Also, our fear button was being pushed by domestic terrorism during the Clinton years: the Unabomber, Oklahoma City, the Atlanta Olympics bombing. And let’s not forget Clinton and Janet Reno’s domestic failings: Ruby Ridge, Waco, the rescue of Elian Gonzalez.

    The September 11th attacks were a sharp kick in the groin for the US. It did give Bush something to prop his foreign policies upon. I’m not shocked that Bush came into the White House with a plan to topple Saddam Hussein, because really the Iraq situation was becoming a festering sore that had to be dealt with. I may not agree with the approach taken, but I do agree that something needed to be done.

  26. were no foreign attacks on America during Clinton

    Uh, technically =

    -the WTC v1 bombing happened in 1993
    -Kenya embassy bombings in 1998
    -USS COle in 2000

    FWIW I accept Richard Clarke’s opinion that WJC did/was doing far more than GWB through 9/11/01 in regards to alQ.

    JG

  27. Gilmore: You are right that the WTC v.1 occurred about one month into the Clinton presidency. Got me there. However, I am scratching my head because I cannot find any maps that place Yemen inside the United States. Is there a “Kenya Embassy, North Dakota” that I’m unaware of?

  28. Stephen Macklin:

    9/11, as the entire world (minus yourself) knows, was planned overseas. Yes, I was wrong about WTC1. However, I’m not going to except your lawyerly response that American citizens are in danger because you consider an attack on a warship as an attack on the heartland.

  29. Is there a “Kenya Embassy, North Dakota” that I’m unaware of?

    Embassy land is considered extraterritorial, part of the hosted country.

    Military ships sailing under an American flag are also defined as “US Territory” for legal purposes.

  30. Though it is certainly in the Bush administration’s style to use prosecutions like this to intimidate lawyers who represent terror suspects, I don’t really think thats what this is. She did clearly violate the law, and at the bare minimum she deserved to get disbarred. A two year sentance seems pretty reasonable, especially if some of it is suspended.
    I pretty much lost all sympathy for her after I read this. Apparently she’s fine with people rotting in jail in communist countries, but god forbid it happen here.

    “I don’t have any problem with Mao or Stalin or the Vietnamese leaders or certainly Fidel locking up people they see as dangerous. Because so often, dissidence has been used by the greater powers to undermine a people’s revolution. The CIA pays a thousand people and cuts them loose, and they will undermine any revolution in the name of freedom of speech.”[2]
    http://www.monthlyreview.org/1102day.htm

  31. Thanks Fatmouse! Only an hour and a half too late. See Stephen Macklin above.

  32. “Yeah, treating terrorism as a military issue seems to be working out so well”

    actually, it has. the PRIMARY goal is to prevent terrorist attacks. the secondary goal is to bring offenders to justice.

    how many attacks have we suffered since 911?

    how many have we thwarted?

    that is the important metric, and by that metric, we have been VERY successful.

    It is, frankly, AMAZING how successful we have been in this regards. The brits have done pretty well too. (and don’t even try to compare brit law enforcement to ours, since they don’t have an exclusionary rule, a miranda warning, and they routinely use military within their borders)

  33. whit:

    There were almost 9 years between the first and second WTC attacks. We’re only 5 years from the last. Don’t congratulate yourself so quickly. It’s good work. It isn’t amazing. It’s what the government is supposed to do.

  34. Lamar,

    You are skirting around the idea that bin Laden and al Qaeda may purposefully plan attacks on the US mainland shortly after a change in US Presidents. This could both serve as a notice that their greivances are still outstanding and force the hand of a new administration so that they act in a way that best serves al Qaeda’s purposes.

    If you hold the view that al Qaeda’s beef with the US is a matter of honor, then an attack early in a new US administration immediately marks the new president as weak and unable to defend his own land.

  35. Travis:

    ChrisO said he can’t decide whether she’s deluded or evil for helping the Blind Sheik communicate with his followers. After reading that Lynne Stewart quote you posted, I would rate her as evil, no one could be that deluded. Pure, unadulterated Evil.

  36. Thanks Travis for posting the quote from Monthly Review, in which Steward defends Mao, Stalin or Fidel locking up “counter-revolutionaries” or dissidents. Saves me looking it up and cutting and pasting.

    The AP story on Lynne Stewart’s conviction refers to her various clients, mentioning that she has defended Black Panthers and “members of the student activist group the Weather Underground.”

    The Weather Underground as student activists? That is either understatement or a real case of “liberal” media bias.

  37. All the Weathermen I knew were college students. That was one of thier problems.
    Lynn Stewart, whom I met a few times, being myself involved in political trials here, makes a classic, repeated mistake. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”
    She had zipto do with the actual transferance of mullah fruitcakes communications with his addeled followers, she wasnt rigourous in making sure people under her werent doing so.
    It was a case ginned up to intimidate lawyers from defending people swept up for bounty, suspicion, or, once in a while, cause.
    Im as glad she caugfht a light hit as I am repelled by her excusing away commie excess.

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