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Lynne’s Open Letter to the National Assembly

Lynne’s Open Letter to the National Assembly
7/18/10   12:20 pm

In one of the best selling books of this season, the heroine, Lizabeth Salander, a hardwired, brilliant young computer genius is shot and buried by the antagonist.  He is a prototype of the cruel, greedy, mysoginistic,exploiter.  She claws herself out of her premature grave and indomitable and focused, defeats him  .Finally by the end of volume 3 she has triumphed, using her own brains and relying on  her friends and comrades,  over the entire corrupt corporate, governmental, military power structure that had been trying to oppress and suppress her her whole life.

Last Thursday, Federal Judge John Koeltl attempted to bury me alive.  Acting for the Government and Judges of the 2 Circuit Court of Appeals he sentenced me at their demand to more than 5x the term he originally thought ” right and just”.  With his new sentence, of 10 years, I am buried in the Prison Industrial Complex until I am nearly 80 years old, if I make it.  But, believe me, I, like Lisabeth Salander intend to lift the dirt off and even if weakened and  wounded–regain my voice and strength !!

When the National Assembly was founded and had its first conference, it too had a formidable task–to become a democratic voice of the anti-war movement.  It too had to shift and move and overcome sectarianism.  To revive a weary, disillusioned anti war movement We have come a long way toward being the vibrant voice we envisioned  when we had the first telephone conference.  We have grown.  We have tried to stay true to the notion that everyone who attended had a voice and that important policy issues and future plans must be decided by vote of the membership.

I have been out of the steering aspect due to my “unavailability”  but my husband Ralph Poynter is still dedicated and active.  He represents both of us.  Others, too numerous to mention, close to me in my previous life, also now stand for me.   I miss many things from that life but most of all being part of the challenge to make lasting change in my lifetime by ending the scourge of imperialism and its endless wars and exploitation for ourselves and all the peoples of the world.  LONG LIVE THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

The Sentencing of Lynne Stewart by Michael Steven Smith

The Sentencing of Lynne Stewart
by Michael Steven Smith

“At all times throughout history the ideology of the ruling class is the ruling ideology.” — Karl Marx

Lynne Stewart is a friend.  She used to practice law in New York City.  I still do.  I was in the courtroom with my wife Debby the afternoon of July 19th for her re-sentencing.  Judge John Koeltl buried her alive.

We should have seen it coming when he told her to take all the time she needed at the start when she spoke before the sentence was read.  It didn’t matter what she said.  He had already written his decision, which he read out loud to a courtroom packed with supporters.  It was well crafted.  Bulletproof on appeal.  He is smart and cautious.

After about an hour into his pronouncement, he came to the buried alive part.  He prefaced it by citing the unprecedented 400 letters of support people had sent him, all of which he said he read.  He noted Lynne’s three decades of service to the poor and the outcast.  He stressed that she is a seventy-year-old breast cancer survivor with high blood pressure and other serious health problems.  And then he laid it on her: 120 months.

Everyone in the courthouse divided 120 by 12.  He had given her a death sentence, we all thought.  She’ll never get out.  He almost quadrupled the 28 month sentence he had originally pronounced.  She had told him that 28 months was a horizon, that she had hope.  But no more.

Lynne’s granddaughter gasped.  Then started sobbing.  She kept crying even as Judge John Koeltl kept reading.  And reading.  And reading.  It was awful.  The sentence was pitiless and cruel.  How to understand it?

Lynne’s lawyer Jill Shellow Levine rose after the judge finished.  She asked him why.  He was candid.  He was told to do it by his supervisors, the judges on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  This court is an institution of the elite.  It is considered the second highest court in America next to the Supreme Court because it presides over the financial center of the empire, not its capital, that is in D.C., but its real capital.  This court makes policy and Lynne Stewart was to be made an example of in “the war against terrorism” just as a half a century before, in the same court, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were condemned to death in the war against communism, told that they had caused the deaths of 50,000 U.S. soldiers in the Korean War, and found guilty of the ridiculous charge of “stealing the secret” of the atomic bomb, when there was no secret, it was only a matter of technology.  The sentencing Judge Kaufman knew they would leave behind two orphan children, Robert and Michael, ages six and three.

In 1947 George Kennan, the ideological father of the cold war, wrote that the United States had but six per cent of the world’s population and fifty per cent of its wealth.  The problem was to keep it.  Anti-communism served as the ideological cover the U.S. ruling classes used.  But communism ceased to exist after capitalism was restored in the Soviet Union in 1991.  A new ideological cover has been constructed in the wake of the September 11th criminal attack on the World Tread Center and the Pentagon: the War against Terror.  Nationalist opposition to U.S. economic and foreign policy in parts of the Arab world is no longer led by communists but by fundamentalist Muslims.

Lynne Stewart represented one of them, Sheik Abdel Rahman, who was the leading oppositionist to the U.S.-sponsored Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, which gets more money from America than any other country in the world except Israel. In 1993, at the behest of the Egyptian government, Sheik Rahman was criminally indicted and later convicted of the crime of “sedition” for suggesting to a government informer that rather than blow up New York City landmarks he choose “a military target.”  It was on the occasion of a post-conviction prison visit that Lynne helped her client.  She released his statement to Reuters press service announcing his withdrawal of support for a ceasefire between his group and the Egyptian government.  This was in violation of a Special Administrative Measure (SAMs) that Lynne had agreed to with the U.S. Government.  She wasn’t supposed to be a medium for communication between her client and the outside world.  She should have challenged the constitutionality of the SAMs, she now realizes, and not just have violated them.

She wasn’t prosecuted for what she did, not under the Clinton administration, nor during the first years of George W. Bush.  Then came 9.11.  Bush’s Attorney General John Ashcroft flew into New York City in 2003 and announced Lynne’s indictment on the David Letterman show.  The crime?  A novel one.  Conspiracy to provide material aid to a terrorist organization.  What was the material aid?  Her client.  When Ashcroft did that, as the nation’s highest law enforcement officer, he committed an ethical violation for which any other attorney would have been sanctioned.  He made sure that from the very beginning of her ordeal Lynne Stewart never had a chance.  Not with the level of fear the government was able to generate and the scare they put into her jury.

In 2006 she was convicted and sentenced.  The maximum was 30 years, but thanks to the superb legal work of National Lawyers Guild attorneys Elizabeth Fink and Sarah Kunstler and the outpouring of public support Judge Koeltl gave her 28 months.  The government appealed the sentence to their U.S. Court of Appeals.  Game over.  The selective prosecution of Lynne Stewart was accomplished.

Judge John Walker, George W. Bush’s first cousin, sits on that court.  His family made their fortune selling munitions during WWI.  He wrote that the 28 months was “shockingly low.”  Judge Koeltl was given his orders.  The seemingly kindly boyish-looking jurist about whom it was said that he walks to work and looks after an elderly mother — not exactly a sadistic old lady killer — then reversed himself and on the same evidence nearly quadruped the sentence, putting a seventy-year-old grandmother on chemotherapy away for ten years and two years’ probation after that for good measure.  This is much more than meanness.  It is ideology.

Michael Steven Smith is the co-host of the WBAI radio show Law and Disorder and sits on the Board of the Center for Constitutional Rights.  See, also, Jean-Claude Paye, “Guantánamo and the New Legal Order” (Monthly Review, May 2005); Jean-Claude Paye, “The End of Habeas Corpus in Great Britain” (Monthly Review, November 2005); Michael E. Tigar, “The Twilight of Personal Liberty: Introduction to ‘A Permanent State of Emergency’” (Monthly Review, November 2006); Jean-Claude Paye, “A Permanent State of Emergency” (Monthly Review, November 2006); Jean-Claude Paye, “Enemy Combatant or Enemy of the Government?” (Monthly Review, September 2007); Michael E. Tigar, “A System of Wholesale Denial of Rights” (Monthly Review, September 2007); Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, “Abu Ghraib and Insaniyat” (Monthly Review, December 2007)

Darkness in America: Lynne Stewart’s Resentencing

Darkness in America: Lynne Stewart’s Resentencing: Gets 10 years imprisonment for doing her job honorably, ethically.
by Stephen Lendman
Friday, 16 July 2010

Describing Lynne Stewart, one of this writer’s previous articles said the following:

“She worked selfishly, tirelessly, and heroically for 30 years as a human rights champion, defending America’s poor, underprivileged, and unwanted – people never afforded due process and judicial fairness without an advocate like her. She knew the risks, yet took them courageously until bogusly indicted on April 9, 2002 for:

* “conspiring to defraud the United States;
* conspiring to provide and conceal material support to terrorist activity;
* providing and concealing material support to terrorist activity; and
* two counts of making false statements.”

A brief timeline was as follows:

* indicted on April 9, 2002;
* on February 10, 2005, convicted on all counts;
* on October, 17, 2006, sentenced to 28 months;
* on November 17, 2009, a US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit three-judge panel upheld the conviction, shamelessly accusing Lynne of “knowingly and willfully making false statements,” redirecting her case to District Court Judge John Koeltl for resentencing, instructing him to consider enhancements for terrorism, perjury, and abuse of her position as a lawyer – an outrageous mandate intimidating Koeltl to comply;
* on November 19, 2009, Stewart jailed at MCC-NY, 150 Park Row, New York, NY; and
* on July 15, 2010, Stewart resentenced to 10 years imprisonment for doing her job honorably, ethically, and admirably with distinction for 30 years.

New York Times writer John Eligon headlined, “Sentence Is Sharply Increased for Lawyer Convicted of Aiding Terror,” saying:

After her sentence, a “collective gasp went up from (her) supporters, who packed the broad, high-ceilinged courtroom….followed by a few shrieks and sobs; some held their hands over their mouths.”

Allowed to speak, Lynne said:

“I’m somewhat stunned, Judge, by the swift change in my outlook. We will continue to struggle on to take all available options to do what we need to do to change this. I feel like I let a lot of my good people down,” after which supporters shouted, “We love you!”

Stewart added:

“Over the last eight months, prison has diminished me. Daily, I confront the prospect of death.”

So does her husband, Ralph Poynter, calling it “a death sentence,” – a shocking miscarriage of justice, symbolizing America’s descent to hell, its moral remnants lost, its democracy a convenient illusion, its despotic reality ruthless, corrupted, brutish and merciless, favoring power over populism under a Constitution political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as “conscripted to serve as (its) apprentice rather than its conscience.”

On July 16, New York Law Journal’s Mark Hamblett headlined, “Lynne Stewart Gets a New 10-Year Prison Sentence,” saying:

Koeltl imposed a longer sentence, saying “comments by Stewart in 2006, including a statement in a television interview that she would do ‘it’ again and would not ‘do anything differently’ influenced his decision….indicat(ing) the original sentence ‘was not sufficient’ to reflect the goals of sentencing guidelines.”

Forgotten were Koeltl’s October 2006 comments, calling Lynne’s character “extraordinary,” saying she was “a credit to her profession,” and that a long imprisonment would be “an unreasonable result,” citing “the somewhat atypical nature of her case (and) lack of evidence that any victim was harmed….”

Calling terrorism enhancement “dramatically unreasonable (because it grossly) overstate(d) the seriousness of (her) conduct (and would equate her with) repeat felony offenders for the most serious offenses including murder and drug trafficking.”

He did consider Stewart’s age (70), her health (poor), her distinguished career representing society’s disadvantaged and unwanted, and the unlikelihood she’d commit another “crime.”

“But (he) clearly got the message from the 2nd Circuit,” and complied, his own career perhaps on the line otherwise.
The American Bar Association’s Model Code of Judicial Conduct

Updated in February 2007, its preamble calls for:

* “An independent, fair and impartial judiciary,” calling it “indispensable to our system of justice, (composed of) men and women of integrity;
* Judges should….at all times (ensure) the greatest possible public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence;
* The Model Code….establishes standards (of) ethical conduct, (including) overarching principles of judicial ethics (and fairness), consistent with constitutional requirements, statutes, other court rules, and decisional law, and with due regard for all relevant circumstances;” above all, the truth, not a corrupted prosecutorial version of it, the kind sending innocent people to prison, including society’s best, none better than Lynne.

Mark the date – July 15, 2010, a day of infamy, activist/writer Elaine Brower saying “The Veil is Lifted, The Gloves Are off,” Stewart’s lynching showing America’s true face – cruel, unfair, lawless and debauched, a nation no longer fit to live in.
A Final Note

Jeff Mackler, West Coast Director of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, reports she’ll “serve her sentence in Danbury, Connecticut’s minimum security prison….a brilliant and dedicated fighter sacrificed on the altar of an intolerant class-biased system of repression and war.”

A giant among us, she won’t be forgotten, a Supreme Court appeal expected, despite little chance for compassion or judicial fairness, qualities absent in the Roberts court.

Read Red: Oscar Grant, Juanita Young, Fred Hampton Jr. & Lynne Stewart

Read Red: Oscar Grant, Juanita Young, Fred Hampton Jr. & Lynne Stewart

We, the crowd gathered at Judson Memorial Church last night, hadn’t yet heard about the “involuntary manslaughter” wrist-slap verdict in the Jan. 1, 2009 Oakland, Cal. police murder of Oscar Grant. If someone had announced the news, my guess is that we would have ended the event with a march into the streets to protest this latest in the long, endless succession of racist outrages in which killer cops get away with murder.

How can I be so sure? Because the event was a fundraiser/rally for Lynne Stewart, the wonderful, courageous people’s lawyer who is now a political prisoner railroaded into jail for the crime of representing her clients, and it was a rip-roarer. People rose to their feet time after time as speaker after speaker, including more than one who personally knows the reality of racist police violence all too well, spoke truth to power, speaker after speaker calling out their praise of this activist and advocate for justice and struggle.

Interview with Brenna Stewart

The People’s Lawyer, Political Prisoner Lynne Stewart: An interview wit’ her daughter, Brenna Stewart
San Francisco BayView Newspaper

Society of Law Teachers (SALT) letter in support of Lynne Stewart

Society of Law Teachers (SALT) letter in support of Lynne Stewart: