Comment on this article |
View comments |
Email this article |
Lunch with Lynne and Ralph
by Stephen Lendman
07 Sep 2014
Lunch with Lynne and Ralph
by Stephen Lendman
Saturday, September 6 was special. It included quality time with Lynne Stewart and her husband Ralph Poynter. More on this below.
Ralph was a United Federation of Teachers founding member. In the 1960s, he supported core union principles and struggles.
It was when UFT leaders collaborated with New York City Central Board of Education officials. They did so against Black community members.
Ralph was jailed several times for his activism. He later worked as a human rights private investigator. During Lynne's ordeal, he worked tirelessly for justice.
Lynne is an internationally renown human rights lawyer. She spent 30 years practicing law ethically, morally and responsibly.
She observed American Bar Association's Model Rules to the letter. They say lawyers must:
"devote professional time and resources and use civil influence to ensure equal access to our system of justice for all those who because of economic or social barriers cannot afford or secure adequate legal counsel."
Lynne did all that and more. She defended America's poor, underprivileged and unwanted. They're often denied due process and judicial fairness without an advocate like her.
She defended Weather Underground's David Gilbert, United Freedom Front's Richard Williams, Black Liberation Army's Nasser Ahmed, Sheik Abdel Rahman, and other figures America wanted convicted.
She knew the risks. She took them fearlessly and courageously. Bush administration officials targeted her. On April 9, 2002, they wrongfully indicted her 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."
She was accused of violating US Bureau of Prisons Special Administrative Measures (SAMs).
It included a gag order on her client, Sheik Abdel Rahman. They prohibit discussing topics Justice Department (DOJ) officials rule outside of "legal representation."
Lawyers can't discuss them with clients. Denying them compromises their defense.
Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark asked Lynne to join his court-appointed appeal defense team.
In his 1995 show trial, Rahman was guilty by accusation despite evidence proving him innocent of all charges. He never had a chance.
He was convicted of seditious conspiracy, solicitation of murder, solicitation of an attack on American military installations, conspiracy to murder, and conspiracy to bomb in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center attack.
Lynne was targeted for representing him on appeal, as well as for 30 years of human rights advocacy.
Her case was precedent-setting. Then Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner said it sent "a message to lawyers who represent alleged terrorists that it's dangerous to do so."
Lynne's attorney Michael Tigar called indicting her "an attack on a gallant, charismatic and effective fighter for justice (with) at least three fundamental faults:
• (it) attack(ed) the First Amendment right of free speech, free press and petition;
• the right to effective assistance of counsel (by) chill(ing) the defense; (and)
• the 'evidence' in this case was gathered by wholesale invasion of private conversations, private-attorney-client meetings, faxes, letters and e-mails; I have never seen such an abuse of government power."
It didn't matter. Lynne was declared guilty by accusation. Her 2004 - 2005 show trial was a mockery of justice.
It wreaked of McCarthy-like tactics. It was orchestrated to convict. It sent a message to other lawyers.
It told them to expect the same treatment if they represented clients Washington wants imprisoned.
On February 10, 2005, Lynne was convicted on all counts. Under New York state law, she was automatically disbarred.
The state Supreme Court's Appellate Division denied her petition to resign voluntarily.
On October 17, 2006, she was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment. She remained free on bond pending appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
On November 17, 2009, its three-judge panel upheld her conviction. It did so disgracefully.
Judges wrongfully accused Lynne of "knowingly and willfully making false statements."
They redirected her case to District Court Judge John Koeltl for re-sentencing.
They instructed him to consider enhancements for terrorism, perjury, and abuse of her professional status.
They intimidated Koeltl to comply. He re-sentenced Lynne to 10 years imprisonment. At the time, her husband Ralph Poynter called it "a death sentence."
Indicting Lynne was a shocking miscarriage of justice. Convicting her revealed deplorable injustice in today's America.
On November 20, 2009, Lynne began serving her sentence. She was jailed in New York. Then at Federal Medical Center (FMC), Carswell, Texas.
She's a breast cancer survivor. It reemerged. It spread. It reached Stage Four.
It affected her lymph nodes, shoulder, left arm pit, bones and lungs. Her brain and other body parts became vulnerable.
She was dying. America's 1984 Sentencing Act grants reduced sentences "for extraordinary and compelling reasons."
Her condition demanded compassionate release. Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark said she "me(t) every legal, rational and humane criterion for" it.
FMC Carswell warden Jody Upton recommended it. She did so based on Lynne's Stage 4 condition.
It didn't matter. On June 25, 2013, she was denied. Allegedly because her health was improving.
It was a Big Lie. Her cancer metasticized. Her life hung in the balance. Her struggle became ours.
A previous article said Obama wanted Lynne Stewart dead. Vital surgery was delayed 18 months. It was put off to kill her.
Her operating physician called her condition "the worst he had seen." It's treatable if done so in time.
Individuals diagnosed with Stage Four cancer can live many productive years. Key is effective treatment. Immediate care is essential.
FMC, Carswell provides deplorable treatment. It involves shackling. Ten pounds bound Lynne's wrists and ankles. Chains connected them.
Weeks passed to see providers. Results took weeks longer. Hospital conditions are shocking. They include shackling wrists and ankles painfully to beds.
It's standard practice. It's brutal. It's medieval. It's cruel and unusual punishment. It violates core constitutional rights.
Patients like Lynne aren't flight risks. They deserve better. Lynne worked tirelessly for justice. She's a role model for right over wrong.
She deserved compassion in time of need. Belatedly it came. New Year's day 2014 was special.
It was reason to celebrate. Lynne was going home. On December 31, she wrote from FMC Carswell in part:
Well, the impossible takes a little longer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We learned this morning that the US Attorney’s office has made the motion for my compassionate release and that the Order was on Judge Koeltl’s desk.
Since on the last go-round, he stated in Court that he would treat it 'favorably.' We are now just waiting expectantly.
The wonderful thing is that Ralph is here in Ft Worth for a visit and will bring me back to NYC with him.
We don’t know when but the rules state that the warden has 2 days to let me go after he receives the order so it could be as early as Friday or a few days more.
Whatever it is, I can’t stop crying tears of Joy!!
I can’t stop thinking of all the marvelous people worldwide who made this happen. You know because each of you played an integral role."
On December 31, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York filed a motion before federal Judge John Koeltl.
He requested Lynne be re-sentenced to time served. Doing enabled her immediate release. Judge Koeltl complied, saying:
Lynne’s "terminal medical condition and very limited life expectancy constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons that warrant the requested (sentencing) reduction."
"It is further ordered that the defendant shall be released from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons as soon as her medical condition permits, the release plan is implemented, and travel arrangements can be made."
Lynne was free at last. On New Year's day, 2014 she arrived at LaGuardia Airport. A joyous welcome greeted her.
"It's just really wonderful," she said. "I'm very grateful to be free."
She was wrongfully imprisoned for over four years. No one knows the ordeal she experienced without enduring it themselves.
It's nightmarish at best. It's especially horrific when ill. Lynne's condition was grave. She was given six months to live.
She was maliciously kept imprisoned long enough to kill her. Marylyn Buck's case was similar.
On July 15, 2010, she was released from FMC Carswell. She was paroled to New York. Three weeks later she died.
She served 25 years of a wrongful 80-year sentence. It was for opposing racial injustice and US imperialism.
Months earlier, she was diagnosed with uterine sarcoma. It's a rare aggressive cancer. It killed her.
To the end, she was heroically steadfast. She was incorruptible. In 1999, she wrote about "prisons, social control and political prisoners."
She called prisons warehouses to "disappear the unacceptable…"
"(T)o deprive their captives of their liberties, their human agency, and to punish (and) stigmatize prisoners through moralistic denunciations and indictment based on bad genes - (calling) skin color (ethnicity, or other characteristics) a crime."
Millions aren't imprisoned because they're criminals, she said. It's because they're "accused of breaking (a law) designed to exert tighter social control and State repression."
They're scapegoated, vilified and criminalized for their beliefs and activism. For championing right over wrong.
They're locked in cages for deploring war. For supporting peace. For nonviolent resistance against injustice.
For defending constitutional freedoms. For believing human and civil rights matter. For wanting government of, by and for everyone equitably.
Lynne is all that and more. So is her husband Ralph. They're both longtime political, social justice, and human rights champions.
In early September, they were in Chicago. They came to attend a National Lawyers Guild Law for the People Convention.
They invited this writer to come. We met on Saturday. We spent aquality time together. He had lunch.
We discussed Lynne's ordeal, her health, as well as major social justice and geopolitical issues.
Given all she's been through, Lynne looked well. She's aged 75. Imprisonment takes a toll. So does aging.
She said they held her as long as possible. On release, they thought she'd die in a few weeks.
She beat long odds so far. Chemotherapy resolved most of her Stage Four condition. She's on medication addressing a lung-area malignancy.
We drank a toast to her continuing to defy medical predictions. To long life and restored health and vigor.
Lynne devoted her professional career to helping others. She deserves life, not pain, suffering or death.
She's an inspiration to millions. She's a role model for others. She's one of America's best.
Just societies honor people like Lynne. Ruthless ones punish them for doing the right thing.
It's the American way. It's always been this way. It's worse now than ever. Freedom hangs by a thread. It’s eroding in plain sight.
Thousands of political prisoners languish in America's gulag. It's the world's largest. It's one of the worst.
Dozens of torture prisons supplement it worldwide. Guantanamo is the tip of the iceberg. Others are in numerous countries.
They're black holes of brutality. America's global gulag reveals its dark side.
Lynne is lucky to be home free. She deserves long life, good health and vigor. At age 75, hopefully she has a lot of living left to do.
It's an honor to call her and Ralph valued friends. They're two of America's best. They've done so much for so many others for so long.
They asked little in return. Doing the right thing is its own reward. Doing it every day matters most.
Imagine if everyone felt this way. Imagine a world at peace. Imagine one fit to live in. Imagine universal equity and justice.
Imagine polar opposite today's reality. The Spanish civil war was background for Hemingway's novel "For Whom The Bell Tolls."
It matched Second Spanish Republic activists against General Francisco Franco fascists. It was a good v. evil struggle. It turned out the wrong way.
In times of conflicts and gross injustice, for whom the bell tolls matters most. It tolls for thee.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen (at) sbcglobal.net.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
This work is in the public domain
The Islamist 'Civil Rights' Leader Lynne Stewart Went to Jail For
(No verified email address)
07 Sep 2014
Modified: 04:25:48 PM
Click on image for a larger version
Click on image for a larger version
Lynne Stewart defended many innocent Leftists targeted by the government. She also decided to help pass messages from a Right Wing Egyptian Islamist, Sheik Abdel Rahman, who was already convicted. She admitted to tapping on the table and shaking bottles and making noise so her translator could pass and receive messages in Arabic that the guards could not hear. She said she wanted to keep her clients name in the news. Sheik Abdel Rahman was advocating a return to military attacks by the Islamic Jihadist group he was a part of back in Egypt. Is that the exercise of 'free speech?' Here is an example of the work of the Islamic group whose leading member was defended by Lynne Stewart.
Ancient Site Along the Nile, Modern Horror
By DOUGLAS JEHL NYT Published: November 19, 1997
In the Middle Court of the Temple of Hatsepshut today, piles of newly strewn sand could not disguise the plain fact that a structure dating from before 1400 B.C. had become a late 20th century slaughterhouse.
Blood spattered the ancient colonnades, and sandstone pillars were marked by bullet holes and bits of flesh. These traces of evidence, together with accounts by survivors, began to provide a gruesome picture of the Monday-morning massacre in which Islamic militants fell upon two groups of tourists admiring the magnificent pillars and carved reliefs memorializing a queen who wore a false beard to rule as a Pharaoh.
Firing automatic weapons in a prolonged fusillade, the attackers left 58 foreign tourists dead.
''They shot everyone in the arms and legs,'' a surviving Swiss tourist, Rosemarie Dousse, told the Swiss national radio. ''Then they killed everyone who was still alive with a shot to the head.''
''They took all the young women, the girls, and disappeared with them,'' Ms. Dousse said. ''I don't know where they went with the women but they hurt them. We could hear screams of pain.'' There was no official confirmation that young women had been singled out in this way, however.
The militants were also said to have been armed with knives, and there were reports by credible witnesses that they had seen bodies of several foreigners in which an ear or a nose was missing. These accounts, too, were not officially confirmed.
The Egyptian authorities said today that the final death toll was 58 foreigners, in addition to four Egyptians and six attackers. According to their governments, the dead included at least 35 Swiss, 9 Japanese, 6 Britons, including a child, and 4 Germans. Others killed in the attack included a Bulgarian, a Colombian and a French citizen, the Egyptian authorities said.
By many of the accounts that emerged today, the attackers took advantage of a modest police presence and killed their victims in two clusters inside the grounds of the ancient temple.
A statement issued in the name of Egypt's most prominent Islamic militant group said the massacre had begun as an effort to take hostages in order to secure the release of a leader imprisoned in New York, Sheik Abdel Rahman, for his role in the World Trade Center bombing.
The tourists had arrived at Hatshepsut's Temple on Monday morning to climb a steep ramp leading to the Middle Court and a pair of colonnaded terraces at the rear that were the temple's archeological gems.
It was there, witnesses said, that as many as 50 of the victims died, because the cramped terraces offered no route of escape in the face of the assault by six men armed with knives and automatic weapons.
The attack began just before 8:45 A.M., when six men dressed in plain black clothing and carrying vinyl bags entered the temple through its main gate, ignoring guards' request to produce their tickets. ''This is the ticket,'' the last of the men finally replied as he produced an automatic weapon and opened fire, killing a police guard.
Ahmed Ghassam, 40, another guard, described the exchange. He too was shot, but in an interview from his hospital bed, he said he had survived because the body of the other guard had fallen on top of his.
A 45-minute rampage inside the temple followed. People who had access to the site before the dead were removed said that the main concentrations of bodies had been near the Birth Colonnade and the Punt Colonnade, and that between 20 and 25 people, most if not all of them foreigners, had been killed at each site.
Today, bullet holes had been patched and some blood stains scrubbed away, but debris including a piece from broken eyeglasses and a stray earring near a patch of blood remained. And deep inside the colonnades, the amount of blood and tissue sprayed high upon some walls appeared at least in part to substantiate the accounts of witnesses who say that some of the victims were hunted down and slain.
While the assailants relied mostly on automatic weapons, some accounts said they also used knives to kill and to mutilate several bodies.
Mr. Ghassam was among several witnesses who said he had seen the raiders slit the throats of some victims. Ahmed Youssef Aly, a Luxor-based journalist, said that during a visit to a morgue on Monday night he had seen several mutilated bodies, including that of a Japanese woman missing an ear and a Swiss man whose nose was missing.
Even as they fled the scene at about 9:30 A.M., the assailants may have intended to renew their attack elsewhere.
After running from the temple grounds, the attackers hijacked an Isis Tours bus and its driver, Hagag al-Nahas, 36. They fled again on foot after a gun battle near a police checkpoint left one militant dead. The remaining five were killed near the Valley of the Queens some time after 11 A.M. in the last of many firefights that raged as policemen and civilians pursued them into the rugged hills.
Mr. Nahas, who was badly beaten with a rifle butt during the hijacking, said, ''They were trying to go to another place to shoot more people, and I refused.''
The Islamic Group, Egypt's largest Islamic militant organization, took responsibility for the attack, saying that it had intended to take hostage as many foreign tourists as possible, and that it had hoped to force the release of its spiritual leader, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, from an American jail.
In attacking tourists, the militants have made plain that their goal is to undermine a sector vital to the Egyptian economy, and the experts said they may be trying to frighten foreign governments, tour operators and potential tourists.
The dead included four Japanese couples on honeymoon, and George Wigham, 68, and his wife Ivy, 71, a retired couple from Kent, England.
''They just liked the idea of going down the Nile,'' their son Paul said today in a telephone interview. ''It was their dream. I tried to persuade them not to go, but my father said he could get killed just as easily at home. It was the trip of a lifetime for them.''
Lynne Stewart was fighting for the "freedom of speech" for the Right Wing Islamic leader to advocate and end of the 'cease fire' the group had announced after the bad publicity they got after this dramatic attack.
The Right Wing Islamic group Lynne Stewart wanted to receive the message:
"Abdel-Rahman was accused of being the leader of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (also known as "The Islamic Group"), a militant Islamist movement in Egypt that is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Egyptian governments. The group is responsible for many acts of violence, including the November 1997 Luxor massacre, in which 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were killed"
What was she thinking defending a Right Wing Islamic Jihadist who advocates commando attacks on civilians? What was she thinking when she got a two year sentence and told a press conference "I can do that standing on my head." After that taunt, the judge increased her sentence. What kind of strategy is it to advance 'Human Rights' by helping Right Wing Islamic Jihad? She made a big mistake.