**** WHEN YOU’RE DONE WITH THIS PAGE… MORE ABOUT LYNNE HERE *****
74th BIRTHDAY RALLY
TUES., OCT 8 at 7:00pm
Theater 80 on St Marks (in Manhattan)
80 St. Marks Pl. near 1st Ave (not the church!)
Doors open @ 6:00 PM ~ Donation $10 ~ No one turned away!
* Raging Grannies * Vince Warren * Kenny Brawner * Ms. Blue
* Ramona Africa * Nellie Bailey * Lawrence Hayes
* Sara Flounders & more
Invocation: Rev. Winnie Varghese, St. Marks Episcopal Church
GO TO LYNNE STEWART WEBSITE FOR LATEST UPDATE FROM RALPH POYNTER ON CPRMERO.ORG – THE WARDEN HAS RESPONDED
LISTEN to this IMPORTANT, good news about Lynne’s campaign for Compassionate Release from her husband, Ralph Poynter:
Producers – PLEASE play Ralph’s message, THANK the listeners who have signed the petition and INCLUDE A LINK TO THE PETITION! “NOW is the time to REDOUBLE OUR EFFORTS!”
You can send listeners to Lynne’s website, where they can find a link to the petition:
“THANK YOU to everyone who has signed the petition!”
Lynne Stewart, in the vindictive and hysterical world of the war on terror, is one of its martyrs. A 73-year-old lawyer who spent her life defending the poor, the marginalized and the despised, including blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, she fell afoul of the state apparatus because she dared to demand justice rather than acquiesce to state sponsored witch hunts. And now, with stage 4 cancer that has metastasized, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs, creating a grave threat to her life, she sits in a prison cell at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is serving a 10-year sentence. Stewart’s family is pleading with the state for “compassionate release” and numerous international human rights campaigners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have signed a petition calling for her to be freed on medical grounds. It is not only a crime in the U.S. to be poor, to be a Muslim, to openly condemn the crimes committed in our name in the Muslim world, but to defend those who do. And the near total collapse of our judicial system, wrecked in the name of national security and “the war on terror,” is encapsulated in the saga of this courageous attorney—now disbarred because of her conviction.
“I hope that my imprisonment sends the wake up call that the government is prepared to imprison lawyers who do not conduct legal representation in a manner the government has ordained,” she told me when I reached her through email in prison. “My career of 30 plus years has always been client centered. My clients and I decided on the best legal course, without the interference of the government. Ethics require that the defense lawyer DEFEND, get the client off. We have no obligation to obey [the] ‘rules’ government lays down.
“I believe that since 9/11 the government has pursued Muslims with an ever heavier hand,” she wrote, all messages to her and from her being vetted by prison authorities. “However, cases such as the Sheikh’s in 1995 amply demonstrate that Muslims had been targeted even earlier as the new ENEMY—always suspect, always guilty. After 9/11, we discovered that the government prosecutors were ordered to try and get Osama Bin Laden into EVERY Muslim prosecution inducing in American Juries a Pavlovian response. Is it as bad as lynching and the Scottsboro Boys and the Pursuit of Black Panthers? Not as of yet, but getting close and of course the incipient racism that that colors—pun?—every action in the U.S. is ever present in these prosecutions.”
Stewart, as a young librarian in Harlem, got an early taste of the insidious forms of overt and covert racism that work to keep most people of color impoverished and trapped in their internal colonies or our prison complex. She went on to get her law degree and begin battling in the courts on behalf of those around her for whom justice was usually denied. By 1995, along with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Abdeen Jabara, she was the lead trial counsel for the sheik, who was convicted in September of that year. He received life in prison plus 65 years, a sentence Stewart called “outlandish.” The cleric, in poor health, is serving a life sentence in the medical wing of the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. Stewart continued to see the sheik in jail after the sentence. Three years later the government severely curtailed his ability to communicate with the outside world, even through his lawyers, under special administrative measures or SAMs.
In 2000, during a visit with the sheik, he asked Stewart to release a statement from him to the press. The Clinton administration did not prosecute her for the press release, but the Bush administration in April 2002, the mood of the country altered by the attacks of 9/11, decided to go after her. Attorney General John Ashcroft came to New York in April 2002 to announce that the Justice Department had indicted Stewart, a paralegal and the interpreter on grounds of materially aiding a terrorist organization. That night he went on “Late Show with David Letterman” to tell the nation of the indictment and the Bush administration’s vaunted “war on terror.”
“Rev up the military industrial complex,” Stewart wrote when I asked her what purpose the “war on terror” served. “Keep the populace terrorized so that they look to Big Brother Government for protection. Cannon Fodder for the ‘throwaways’ in our society—young, poor, uneducated, persons of color.”
Stewart’s 2005 trial was a Punch-and-Judy show. The state demanded an outrageous 30-year prison sentence. It showed the jurors lurid videos of Osama bin Laden and images of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center towers, and spun a fantastic web of Islamic, terrorist intrigue. To those of us who covered groups such as al-Qaida and the armed Islamic groups in Egypt—I was based in Cairo at the time as the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times—the government scenarios were utterly devoid of fact or credibility. The government prosecutors, for example, blamed numerous terrorist attacks, including the killing of 62 people in 1997 in Luxor, Egypt, on the sheik, although he publicly denounced the attack and had no connection with the radical Islamic group in Egypt that carried it out. And even Manhattan District Judge John Koeltl instructed the jury more than 750 times that the photos of Osama bin Laden and the 2001 World Trade Center attacks were not relevant to the case. Stewart was sentenced to 28 months. The Obama administration appealed the ruling. The appeals court ruled that the sentence was too light. Koeltl gave her 10 years. She has served three.
Her family’s appeal for a “compassionate release” must defy the odds. Human Rights Watch and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) noted in a 2012 report, “The Answer is No: Too Little Compassionate Release in US Federal Prisons,” that the Federal Bureau of Prisons rarely even bothers to submit compassionate release requests to the courts. Since 1992, the bureau has averaged two dozen motions a year to the courts for compassionate release. The bureau does not provide figures for the number of prisoners who seek compassionate release.
“No messy side effects—vomiting, diarrhea—thank goodness,” Stewart wrote to me about her cancer care. “I have one more treatment and then they have used all the poison it’s safe to use. I am bald but the hardest for me to endure, who has always relied on her memory and quick wit, is the chemo brain that slows and sometimes stops me.
“I am up at 4:30 [a.m.] and wait till the ‘Count’ is over and have a shower etc.,” she noted of her daily routine. “I get dressed and take a short rest (feet up) until breakfast at 6 am. I am in a room with 6 other women—the unusual mix of inmates and I rely on them to help me with just about everything—getting to the clinics, picking up meds, filling my ice bucket, helping with my laundry, etc. At 9:00 every day, they laughingly say, I go to the ‘office.’ That means email or the law library where I correspond and meet with women who need my help. I go back up by 10:30 and take a short nap till lunch. Meals here are meager and not well prepared. Of course, I have favorites—the hamburgers (beef THIN patty) served every Wednesday in every federal prison for lunch. Some of the women count their time in terms of how many hamburger days they have left! We are served cut up iceberg lettuce with a little red cabbage and carrots with meals and I have used my commissary purchases to concoct some more exotic dressings than those offered here.
“After lunch I go back to bed for a longer nap and then up for mail call—lots of letters, newspapers, magazines etc.” she wrote, “a time of the day I sometimes shed a few tears at the love and intensity of those who have written to state their support. Then supper and back to bed and reading—pure pleasure—much fiction (mysteries, Scottish etc. and authors I love Morrison, Sarmargo). [There is] some conversing with my roommates and then after the 9:00 pm count I am off to sleep. I have a hospital bed that is next to large windows—no bars. I can see the Trinity River, barely. Trees. This view of nature is responsible for keeping me alive in the real sense.
“I hoped that there would be common cause among the women here because we are all confronted by totally arbitrary authority every minute of every day,” she went on. “Prison is a perverse place of selfishness and sometimes generosity but not much unity. There are a few and we recognize each other but by and large the harsh realities of people’s origins and the system have ruined most of us. It is particularly horrendous to realize the number of children that the prison system rips from their mothers’ arms, thus creating yet another generation to feed the beast of prison industrial complex.
“I fear we are headed into a period of ever increasing cruelty to those who can least stand it,” she wrote. “As corporate agendas become national agendas there is a profound disrespect for all those who are not able to even get to the starting line. We do not love the children except when they are massacred—the daily mental, emotional deaths in the public schools are ignored. We are now a nation of Us and Them. I would HOPE that the people would recognize what is happening and make a move. After all, who in the fifties could have predicted the uprisings of the sixties? There must be a distaste and willful opposition to what is happening and a push to take it back—local movements scaring the HELL out of the Haves.”
In a 2003 speech at a National Lawyers Guild convention in Minneapolis, Stewart eloquently laid out her mission as an advocate, and more important as a mother and a member of the human race.
“For we have formidable enemies not unlike those in the tales of ancient days,” she told the gathering. “There is a consummate evil that unleashes its dogs of war on the helpless; an enemy motivated only by insatiable greed – The Miller’s daughter made to spin gold – the fisherman’s wife: Midas, all with no thought of consequences. In this enemy there is no love of the land or the creatures that live there, no compassion for the people. This enemy will destroy the air we breathe and the water we drink as long as the dollars keep filling up their money boxes.
“We now resume our everyday lives but we have been charged once again, with, and for, our quests, and like Hippolyta and her Amazons; like David going forth to meet Goliath, like Beowulf the dragon slayer, like Queen Zenobia, who made war on the Romans, like Sir Galahad seeking the holy grail,” she said. “And modern heroes, dare I mention? Ho and Mao and Lenin, Fidel and Nelson Mandela and John Brown, Che Guevara who reminds us ‘At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.’ Our quests like theirs are to shake the very foundations of the continents.
“We go out to stop police brutality—To rescue the imprisoned—To change the rules for those who have never ever been able to get to the starting line much less run the race, because of color, physical condition, gender, mental impairment,” she said. “We go forth to preserve the air and land and water and sky and all the beasts that crawl and fly. We go forth to safeguard the right to speak and write, to join; to learn, to rest safe at home, to be secure, fed, healthy, sheltered, loved and loving, to be at peace with ones identity.”
From prison Stewart wrote to me in closing, “I have been fortunate to live a charmed life—parents who loved me without qualification (yes, we fought about Vietnam and my African American husband but I never doubted that they would always be there for me). I had children when I was young enough to grow with them. Today they are the backbone of my support and love. I came to politics in the early sixties and was part of a vibrant movement that tried to empower local control of public schools to make the ultimate changes for children and break the back of racism in minority communities. My partner/husband Ralph Poynter was always—60 years and counting—in my corner and when at a less than opportune moment I announced my desire to go to law school, he made sure it happened. I had a fabulous legal career in a fabulous city—championing the political rights of the comrades of the 60’s and 70’s and also representing many who had no hope of a lawyer who would fight for them against the system. I have enjoyed good friends, loved cooking, had poetry and theater for a joy. I could go on and on BUT all of this good fortune has always meant only one thing to me—that I have to fight, struggle to make sure EVERYONE can have a life like mine. That belief is what will always sustain me.”
Chris Hedges spent two decades as a foreign reporter covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His latest books are Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt, Death of the Liberal Class, and The World as It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress.
Copyright © 2013 Truthdig
2008 Steal This Radio show with Lynne Stewart & Ralph Poynter, updated to include Lynne’s current health crisis and the petition to release her from jail on compassionate grounds
Cindy Sheehan interviews Ralph Poynter, and his partner, political prisoner, Lynne Stewart (by proxy) about their decades long love affair and partnership in radical activism. Cindy also reads a message from Lynne for International Women’s Day. Show dedicated to the life and work of Hugo Chavez (RIP)
Lynne last year was moved to solitary confinement in prison because she was giving too much legal advice to other inmates helping them get out of prison. Please SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT HER PRESENT SITUATION &
Click HERE to send a message to President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Samuels, the Warden of Carswell Federal Prison, the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, Congressional Leaders, U.N. Secy Gen Ban, and members of the media saying you want Compassionate Release for Lynne Stewart NOW!
Appeal from Lynne Stewart’s spouse Ralph Poynter and family:
Lynne Stewart has devoted her life to the oppressed – a constant advocate for the countless many deprived in the United States of their freedom and their rights.
Unjustly charged and convicted for the “crime” of providing her client with a fearless defense, the prosecution of Lynne Stewart is an assault upon the basic freedoms of us all.
After many years of post-conviction freedom, her bail was revoked arbitrarily and her imprisonment ordered, precluding surgery she had scheduled in a major New York hospital.
The sinister meaning of the relentless persecution of Lynne Stewart is unmistakably clear. Given her age and precarious health, the ten- year sentence she is now serving is a virtual death sentence.
Since her imprisonment in the Federal Prison in Carswell, Texas her urgent need for surgery was delayed 18 months – so long, that the operating physician pronounced the condition as “the worst he had seen.”
Now, breast cancer, which had been in remission prior to her imprisonment, has appeared in her lymph nodes, on her shoulder, in her bones and her lungs – and has reached Stage Four.
Her daughter, a doctor, has sounded the alarm: “Under the best of circumstances, Lynne would be in a battle of the most serious consequences with dangerous odds. With cancer and cancer treatment, the complications can be as debilitating and as dangerous as the cancer itself.”
In her current setting, where trips to physicians involve attempting to walk with 10 pounds of shackles on her wrists and ankles, with connecting chains, Lynne Stewart has lacked ready access to physicians and specialists under conditions compatible with medical success.
It can take weeks to see a medical provider in prison conditions. It can take weeks to report physical changes and learn the results of treatment; and when held in the hospital, Lynne has been shackled wrist and ankle to the bed.
This medieval “shackling” has vanishingly little to do with any appropriate prison control. She is obviously not an escape risk.
We demand abolition of this practice for all prisoners, let alone those facing surgery and the urgent necessity of care and recovery.
It amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, violative of human rights.
There is immediate remedy available for Lynne Stewart. Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, after a prisoner request, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Life threatening illness is foremost among these and Lynne Stewart meets every rational and humane criterion for compassionate release.
To misconstrue the gravamen of this compassionate release by conditioning such upon being at death’s door – released, if at all, solely to die – is a cruel mockery converting a prison sentence, wholly undeserved, into a death sentence.
The New York Times, in an editorial (2/12), has excoriated the Bureau of Prisons for their restrictive crippling of this program. In a 20-year period, the Bureau released a scant 492 persons – an average of 24 a year out of a population that exceeds 220,000.
We cry out against the bureaucratic murder of Lynne Stewart.
We demand Lynne Stewart’s immediate release to receive urgent medical care in a supportive environment indispensable to the prospect of her survival and call upon the Bureau of Prisons to act immediately.
If Lynne’s original sentence of 28 months had not been unreasonably, punitively increased to 10 years, she would be home now—where her medical care would be by her choice and where those who love her best would care for her. Her isolation from this loving care would end.
Prevent this cruelty to Lynne Stewart whose lifelong commitment to justice is now a struggle for her life. Free Lynne Stewart Now! Call for Lynne Stewart’s “Compassionate Release” NOW!
|Please also write to Lynne with expressions of concern and wishes for strength and health, at:
Lynne Stewart #53504-054
Federal Medical Center, Carswell
PO Box 27137
Ft. Worth, TX 76127
For more information and latest updates, go to LynneStewart.org
Sign the petition here for the Compassionate Release of Lynne Stewart (click here)
On the morning of April 9, 2002 agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrived in the front yard of the Brooklyn home of outspoken attorney, Lynne Stewart to arrest her. Simultaneously, as they handcuffed her, the FBI invaded her Manhattan office and searched for almost 12 hours. Photographs of them leaving with boxes of papers and files were widespread in the media. U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft himself flew to New York, for the announcement of Lynne’s arrest both at a Federal court news conference and later that day, with much greater coverage, on the Late Night with David Letterman television show.
The indictment against Lynne charges her with providing material support for terrorism, and violating Special Administrative Measures (SAMS) imposed by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which included a gag order on Sheik Abdel-Rahman, who Lynne represented in his 1995 trial. The indictment came a full two years after the last alleged act. The basis? A public press release; overheard, privileged attorney-client interviews and wiretapped conversations with the interpreter and paralegal on the case who are also charged in this indictment.
Lynne pleads: “Emphatically Not Guilty”
Lynne Stewart has been a defense attorney practicing criminal law for 27 years. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Lynne was teacher in the New York City School system as a children’s librarian. Lynne is the mother of 3, stepmom to four and the grandmother of 7. Lynne , as a lawyer, has always been a vigorous defender of her clients, who ranged from the many poor people caught in the criminal justice system by the economics and/or the war on drugs to more well known political defendants. These include : David Gilbert, Weather Underground, Richard Williams of the United Freedom Front, Larry Davis, acquitted by reason of self defense of attempted murder of NYPO’s, Sekou Odinga, Black Liberation Army and Nasser Ahmed, released after being imprisoned for 3 ½ years on non-existent secret evidence. Lynne remains committed to her clients, as their attorney, until they are no longer in the grasp of the State. This is the work of a criminal defense attorney.
Prior to September 11th and the hastily enacted “Patriot Act”, Lynne Stewart would never have been indicted at all.
The charges against Lynne Stewart come at a time when the Bush Administration/Ashcroft Justice Department are using the September 11th attack as a vehicle to mask their attack on the civil liberties of all Americans, and the rights under international law of many people of the world Through the “Patriot Act” which was force fed to Congress in the late weeks of September, 2001 and passed into law in an atmosphere of trauma and fear – this administration has been able to demand and be granted broad new powers. The Bush agenda had been on shaky ground after the controversial “election” and consequent Supreme Court “appointment” of Bush and his minions to the presidency. After September 11th the opportunity arose for Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft to push the country even further to the right and to move to create a police state. The Patriot Act implements a number of domestic “antiterrorism” measures that enhance government surveillance powers to enable the FBI and other law enforcers to intrude upon the privacy of anyone and everyone in the United States. Under the guise of making us feel “safe”, the Act sacrifices values that are at the core of democracy and thus at the core of our Constitution. The Act fosters detention and deportation of noncitizens based on their political activities and associations. When the Bush administration lacks authorization from Congress it may self-authorize by executive fiat, interim rules and directives all done in secrecy. By a signature of Ashcroft, the administration may monitor privileged communications between federal detainees and their attorneys completely bypassing Judicial scrutiny. This thwarts the ability of criminal defendants to receive the effective assistance of counsel to which they are entitled under the Sixth Amendment. Under these same interim rules and directives there are new guidelines for domestic intelligence gathering that repeal the hard- foughtfor- reforms of the Church Committee’s 1976 findings that the FBI and the CIA had engaged in domestic spying and disruption of lawful political activities (Cointelpro). This and other manipulations of Bush et.al. have set back established Constitutional and human rights. This could only have happened behind the cloak of fear engendered by 9/11.
“I am here not because the Government wanted to put me in jail for 40 years but because I have fought for Justice in the United States for 40 years.” The apparent goals of the Bush administration through their “Patriot Act” is to stifle dissent and dissuade all who struggle for freedom and self-determination. One of the rights under attack is the right to counsel. The many detainees, who have been held nameless in a makeshift prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba under unspeakable conditions of confinement, are labeled “unlawful combatants”. They are not allowed attorneys. After 9/11 imprisoned American Political Prisoners and Muslims were put in administrative detention. Many are still being so held for unexplained “security” reasons. The imprisonment and denial of counsel to two U.S. citizens portrayed as somehow connected to Afghanistan shows that clearly this administration believes that attorneys are part of the problem and that those whose responsibility it is to advocate for the rights of the accused and imprisoned need to be controlled and intimidated. Why target Lynne Stewart? By targeting and indicting Lynne Stewart the U.S. Justice Department hopes to make an example of an attorney with a long history of progressive political beliefs as well as a reputation for vigorously advocating on behalf of those whose lives have been entrusted to her. Her arrest is meant as a signal to the defense bar to cease and desist zealous representation of persons criminalized by the Government. It is to chill the defense bar and force their conformance to the government’s tune Lynne Stewart is represented by Attorney Michael Tigar, who has represented among others: the Chicago Eight, The Seattle Eight, H. Rap Brown, Angela Davis, Cesar Chavez’s son Fernando, and Kiko Martinez. He had worked with the African National Congress in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. He is a law professor at Washington College of Law, American University in D.C. where he also teaches a seminar on human rights law.
On his defense of Lynne Stewart Michael Tigar says:
“This case is about Lynne Stewart, her struggle and her freedom. For me this case represents an opportunity to confront the Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft effort to destroy human rights and scare the country into lurching to the right. This case is an attack on a gallant, charismatic and effective fighter for justice. I am heartened by the support of so many lawyers, but disappointed in the failure of some to see that the case affected them and their lives. The entire legal profession ought to be standing up and shouting about this case….It is clear that this case has at least three fundamental faults: First, it is an attack on the first amendment right of free speech, free press and petition. When you read this indictment, (see http://www.lynnestewart.org) you will see that Lynne Stewart is being attacked for speaking and helping others to speak. Already, the law under which she is being prosecuted has been held unconstitutional on this very ground by a judge in California.
Second, this case is an attack on the right to effective assistance of counsel. The indictment, announced in a blazeof publicity by General Ashcroft himself, seeks to chill the defense bar. The government’s theory would sharply limit the rights of lawyers to practice their profession and to represent their clients.
Third, the “evidence” in this case was gathered by wholesale invasion of private conversations, private attorney-client meetings, and private faxes, letters and e-mails. I have never seen such an abusive use of governmental power.” “The government’s indictment of me is really an attack on the people”
The initial outpouring and continuing growth of public support for Lynne Stewart is reflective of the nerve struck by this attack on not only Lynne and her life’s work but on all the defenders of our rights under the Constitution. Those who cherish freedom and justice have no choice but to fight this attack against Lynne and against all of us. We must defend Lynne Stewart against government attack.
WE WON’T ALLOW THEM TO BURY LYNNE STEWART IN THEIR PRISONS.
WE WILL NOT STAND SILENT WHILE THEY BULLDOZE THE BILL OF RIGHTS!
JUSTICE FOR LYNNE STEWART IS JUSTICE FOR ALL!
The Lynne Stewart Defense Committee
351 Broadway, Third Floor
New York, NY 10013
212-679-6018 extension # 21