Remarks by Clark Kissinger at the Lynne Stewart Rally, 6/11/02


The case of Lynne Stewart does not occur in a vacuum.


In the year 2000, when she came out of a federal prison and spoke to the press, delivering a public statement from her client, she was considered a pain in the ass, but she did what lawyers have always done. Today she is threatened with decades in prison for that same act that was ignored two years ago.


What’s changed? Lynne Stewart hasn’t changed! She’s still the same fighting people’s lawyer that she always was. And in a deep sense, the US has changed either. It’s still the same predatory global thug it always was.


But what has changed are the freedoms and necessities facing the American Empire. And with it has come a change the management team for the US, a change brought about by something of a rolling coup over the last four years.


Today the US is out to bust a move on the world as a whole. To assert total global domination. To deny the sovereignty of other nations while proclaiming its own self to be above international law.


Whether or not the US was in on 9/11, or simply knew about it, or was simply caught with its pants down, we may never know.  But we do know how they have milked the situation for all its worth.


Speaking to the West Point graduating class, Bush enunciated the cornerstone of the new doctrine:


“If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long.” The new doctrine is preemptive strike at all who would oppose the United States, or who attempt to acquire the capability to oppose the United States, or who even think about opposing the United States.


What is chilling is the domestic analog of that policy. The tasks of the Justice Department, reorganized according to Ashcroft on a war-time footing, is now “prevention,” not law enforcement.


It is a domestic “strike first” policy. The task is to hit those who would oppose the government’s policy in any way BEFORE they can become effective. Even when that opposition entails no violation of law. And to do that, little things like legal and constitutional restraints are going to have to go.


Look at this ad in yesterday’s New York Times from the “Washington Legal Foundation”:


“In a speech before West Point graduates, the President made it clear that preemptive action is essential for American to win the war on terrorism. Though he was referring to  the foreign battlefield, our government’s action since September 11th reflect that this doctrine applies to fighting terrorists on the homefront as well. Regretfully, civil libertarians and other wayward activists [to the audience: “that’s you”] are busy pursuing their own campaign of preemption, using the courts and the media to combat every move government officials make to safeguard citizens…”


“Don’t legal activists and nervous libertarians get it? America can no longer afford the legalistic culture they created. Our enemies are not common criminals who can be deterred by traditional means.”


What that means is that they can not long afford to have constitutional rights.


Right after 9/11, the government declared that terrorists don’t deserve any rights. A lot of people thought they were only talking about foreign nationals--as bad as that is. But if you look at where their logic leads, why should terrorists who are citizens have rights either? I mean, they’re terrorists, right?


Well if you think I’m joking look at the case of Yasser Esam Hamdi. He is a US citizen captured in Afghanistan. The Justice Department has blocked all efforts by the public defender to even see him.


Now comes Jose Padillo, born in Brooklyn, raised in Chicago. He converted to Islam and changed his name to Addullah al Muhajir. He wasn’t captured in Afghanistan. He was captured in Chicago for crime of become a Muslim and visiting Pakistan. He’s being held by the military in a Navy Brig in Charleston, SC, and declared an “enemy combatant.”


Government now claims that the military can hold any citizen, outside the reach of the courts, just on suspicion of being a terrorist.


And who is a terrorist, anyhow? To see just how slippery the definition is, look at the fate of Kurdish people. When they are bombed and killed in Iraq, it is at the hand of the dastardly terrorist Saddam Hussein. But when they are bombed and killed just across the border in Turkey, well then, that’s self defense against terrorists by the democratic NATO member Turkey!


And what about the U.S. itself. Isn’t this the government that overthrew governments

And unleashed death squads and police torturers in Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Iran and Indonesia?


Isn’t the government that invaded Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Grenada, Iraq, the Balkans, and Afghanistan?


Isn’t this the government that sends its troops into the Philippines, Yemen, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and so on?


Isn’t this the government that has bombed countries from Libya, to Sudan, to Yugoslavia?


Isn’t this the government that unilaterally abrogated the ABM treaty, refused to sign the anti-landmine and anti-genocide treaties, refused to accept the Kyoto agreements on global pollution, ignored the Geneva accords on the treatment of prisoners of war

captured in Afghanistan, and reneged on its signing of the treaty to establish a world court to try crimes against humanity?


And why? Because such a court my try U.S. citizens.


Isn’t this the definition of a rogue state?


This is the context in which the government now seeks to throw Lynne Stewart into prison as part of an international terrorist conspiracy for representing her client, a man the government not only sentenced to life in prison for his opposition to the Egyptian regime which is a lackey of the U.S., but the man the U.S. wants to hold in total isolation, held incommunicado, cut off from all human contact with the world.


This is what is at stake in the case of Lynne Stewart. This is why we gather her to honor her and defend her.


When they take our people’s lawyers, it is the people who suffer.


They shall not have her!