On the Eve of Lynne Stewart’s Sentencing
by C. Clark Kissinger
October 15, 2006
Many have spoken tonight about Lynne Stewart, and her long history of defending political prisoners and others facing the brute force of this system's police and courts.
I join them in their praise of Lynne as a wonderful human being and her career as a great people’s lawyer.
But this case is not just about Lynne Stewart. It’s also about what is happening to this country.
It is about the moves of a cabal of neo-cons and Christian fundamentalists in the service of imperialism to radically remake this country in a fascist way and for keeps.
The government put on a major effort to go after and silence Lynne, first and foremost to send a warning to other lawyers who might consider defending people accused by this government of terrorism and other political charges.
Another element of Lynne’s case has been the attempts by the government to compel journalists to testify or hand over information.
Let’s not forget that the prosecutors subpoenaed four journalists who have covered Lynne Stewart. The journalists were Joseph Fried of the New York Times; New York Times freelancer George Packer; Esmat Salaheddin of Reuters' Egypt bureau; and Newsday reporter Patricia Hurtado.
This occurs in climate where executive authority, unchecked by law, has arrogated to itself the power to invade countries anywhere and depose their governments, to seize and detain people indefinitely without charges, and to ship them off to distant countries to be tortured.
Now its complacent and complicit Congress has given it the power to try anyone perceived as an enemy of the empire before military commissions with kangaroo court rules, to interpret the Geneva Conventions as it sees fit, to admit “evidence” obtained through torture, and to deny all non-citizens (included legal permanent residents) the right of habeas corpus.
The moves against Lynne Stewart are part of the increasing use of charges of "material support of terrorism" to go after those targeted by this government.
Following 9/11 this government rounded up thousands of young men from Arab and South Asian countries, who were then abused, held for days without contact with family and lawyers, with many summarily deported on the basis of secret evidence presented ex parte to administrative courts in closed sessions.
One of the main aspects of the government's indictment against Lynne is the allegation that she violated the "special administrative measures" imposed on her client. The real crime here is the imposition of SAMS themselves. If “special administration measures” has a fascist ring to you, it should.
Here again we see unchecked executive power to utterly isolate people, holding them virtually incommunicado in situations devoid of human contact. For such people, their attorney is often their only lifeline to the world.
That this government claims the right to imprison Lynne Stewart is a travesty. This is the government whose Special Access Program has tortured people in secret detention centers all around the world.
This is a government whose chief legal officer has claimed the Geneva Conventions to be “quaint” and who gave the President legal opinions upholding his right to commit torture.
This is a government whose new Military Commission Act indemnifies its torturers by making approval of their torture methods retroactive to 1997.
We say NO! This government has no right to touch a hair on the head of Lynne Stewart.