[Ppnews] Lynne Stewart and the Guantanamo Lawyers

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 27 13:55:51 EDT 2010

Lynne Stewart and the Guantanamo Lawyers:  Same Fact Patterns, Same 
Opponent, Different Endings?

By Ralph Poynter

In the Spring of 2002, Lynne Stewart was arrested by the FBI, at her 
home in Brooklyn, for materially aiding terrorism by  virtue of 
making a public press release to Reuters on behalf of her client, 
Sheik Abdel Omar Rahman of Egypt. This was done after she had signed 
a Special Administrative Measure issued by the Bureau of Prisons not 
permitting her to communicate with the media, on his behalf.

In 2006, a number of attorneys appointed and working pro bono for 
detainees at Guantanamo were discovered to be acting in a manner that 
disobeyed a Federal Judge's protective court order.  The adversary in 
both cases was the United States Department of Justice.   The results 
in each case were very different.

In March of 2010, a right wing group "Keep America Safe" led by Lynn 
Cheyney, hoping to dilute Guantanamo representation and impugn the 
reputations and careers of the volunteer lawyers, launched a 
campaign.  Initially they attacked the right of  the detainees to be 
represented at all.  This was met with a massive denouncement by 
Press, other media, Civil rights organizations ,and rightly so, as 
being a threat to the Constitution and particularly the Sixth 
Amendment right to counsel.

A second attack on the Gitmo lawyers was made in the Wall Street 
Journal of March 16.  This has been totally ignored in the media and 
by civil and human rights groups. This latter revelation about the 
violations, by these lawyers, of the Judge's  protective orders and 
was revealed via litigation and the Freedom of Information 
Act.  These pro bono lawyers serving clients assigned to them at 
Gitmo used privileged attorney client mail to send banned 
materials.  They carried in news report of US  failures in 
Afghanistan and Iraq . One lawyer drew a map of the prison.  Another 
delivered lists to his client of all the suspects held there. They 
placed on the internet a facsimile of the badges worn by the Guards. 
Some lawyers "provided news outlets with 'interviews' of their 
clients using questions provided in advance by the news 
organizations."  When a partner at one of  the large Wall Street law 
firms sent in multiple copies of an Amnesty International brochure, 
which her client was to distribute to other prisoners, she was 
relieved from her representation and barred by the Military Commander 
from visiting her client.

This case is significant to interpret not because of the right wing 
line to punish  these lawyers and manipulate their corporate clients 
to stop patronizing such "wayward" firms. Instead it is 
significant  because, Lynne Stewart, a left wing progressive 
lawyer  who had dedicated her thirty year career to defending the 
poor, the despised, the political prisoner and those ensnared by 
reason of race, gender, ethnicity, religion , who was dealt with by 
the same Department of Justice, in such a draconian fashion, confirms 
our deepest suspicions that she was targeted for prosecution and 
punishment because of who she is and who she represented so ably and 
not because of any misdeed.

Let me be very clear, I am not saying that the Gitmo lawyers acted in 
any "criminal" manner. The great tradition of the defense bar is to 
be able to make crucial decisions for and with the client without 
interference by the adversary Government.

I believe that they were acting as zealous attorneys trying to 
establish rapport and trust with their clients. That said, the moment 
the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice tried to 
remove Julia Tarver Mason from her client, the playing field 
tilted.  Ms Tarver Mason was not led out of her home in handcuffs to 
the full glare of publicity.  There was no press conference.  The 
Attorney General did not go on the David Letterman show to gloat 
about the latest strike in the War on Terror, the purge of the Gitmo 

Instead an "armada" of corporate lawyers went to Court against the 
Government. They, in the terms of the litigation trade,  papered the 
US  District Courthouse in Washington D.C.  They brought to bear the 
full force of their Money and Power-- derived from the corporate 
world--and in 2006 "settled" the case with the government, restoring 
their clients to Guantanamo without any punishment at all, not to say 
any Indictment.  Lynne Stewart, without corporate connections and 
coming from a working class background, was tried and convicted 
for  issuing, on behalf of her client, a public press release to 
Reuters.  There was no injury, no harm, no attacks, no deaths.

Yet that same Department of Justice that dealt so favorably and 
capitulated to the Gitmo corporate lawyers, wants to sentence  Lynne 
Stewart to thirty (30) YEARS in prison.  It is the equivalent of 
asking for a death sentence since she is 70 years old.

This vast disparity in treatment between Lynne and the Gitmo lawyers 
reveals the deep contradictions of the system --those who derive 
power from rich and potent corporations, those whose day to day work 
maintains and increases that power--are treated differently.  Is it 
because the Corporate Power is intertwined with Government Power???

Lynne Stewart deserves Justice...  equal justice under law.  Her 
present sentence of 28 months incarceration (she is in Federal 
Prison) should at least be maintained, if not made equal to the 
punishment that was meted out to the Gitmo lawyers.  The thirty year 
sentence, assiduously pursued by DOJ under both Bush and Obama, is an 
obscenity and an affront to fundamental fairness.  They wanted to 
make her career and dedication to individual clients, a warning, to 
the defense bar that the Government can arrest any lawyer on any 
pretext.  The sharp contrasts between  the cases of Lynne and the 
Gitmo lawyers just confirm that she is getting a raw deal--one that 
should be protested actively, visibly and with the full force of 
our  righteous resistance.

Lynne Stewart will be re sentenced sometime in July, in NYC.

Ralph Poynter is the Life partner of Lynne Stewart.  He is presently 
dedicated 24/7 to her defense, as well as other causes.

<mailto:Ralph.Poynter at yahoo.com>Ralph.Poynter at yahoo.com

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