July 26, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq is slammed by bombings. London is slammed by the truth as a government official explains how he was censored before the Iraqi Inquiry, Wikileaks refuses to censor reality and does another document release, a peace conference is held over the weekend in the US, WBAI's Taking Aim prepares to devote the hour (tomorrow, 5:00 p.m. EST) to the case of political prisoner Lynne Stewart, and more.
Iraq is slammed by violence today proving that Democratic Governors are Democratic Liars. Splash a wave of Operation Happy Talk and prepare to get punked. So the fools today are Governor Jim Douglas, Governor Deval Patrick (aka Governor Who?), Governor Tim Pawlenty, Governor Jay Nixon and Governor Mike Rounds. Those fools, some of whom are up for re-election, honestly thought Iraq would be stable enough for their photo-ops. CNN reports a suicide car bombing in Baghdad today targeting al-Arabiya TV. Al Jazeera notes, "Initial reports said six people were killed in the attack in Baghdad's western Harithya area, but the channel's report put the death toll at four - three security guards and a cleaning lady. A Bangladeshi office assistant was also missing." If you're wondering about the numbers or the Saudi backed network, AFP covers what the others are missing, "Al-Arabiya closed its Baghdad office in June citing government warnings of a threat of insurgent attack." Aseel Kami, Suadad al-Salhy, Rania El Gamal and Mark Heinrich (Reuters) report that the mini-van exploded "close to the entrance of Arabiya's office" and that ten people were injured. Make no mistake that the attack on a TV station -- in Baghdad, no less -- is bad enough. But it didn't end there, does it ever? BBC News reports twin car bombings in Karbala have claimed at least 20 lives. Reuters adds that fifty-four were injured. AFP notes 21 dead and sources that to Karbala's health directorate Salim Kadhim who states, "Most of the killed and wounded are policemen and civilians."
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 4 months and 19 days. No government. This is what the 5 governors tried to sell as 'success.' They should be forced to explain the 'success' they saw and list all prescription medicines they are currently taking. Sunday,
Arwa Damon (CNN) quotes Ayad Allawi calling for Nouri al-Maliki to step down: "I think he should acknowledge also that the transformation, the transfer of power, is very important in this country -- the peaceful transfer of power. It is only fair for our people to stick to the procedures of the elections and the results of the elections." Allawi's call for Nouri to step down follows Senator John Kerry's publicly expressed concern last week (see the July 21st "Iraq snapshot," ) that Nouri may have no intention of stepping down. Over the weekend, Andrew Lee Butters (Time magazine) weighed in on the statemate:
Instead, Maliki and Allawi are playing factional politics, negotiating with avowedly sectarian or ethnically oriented groups in search of a majority coalition. Maliki has united with the conservative Islamist Shi'ite parties that favor more autonomy for Shi'ite majority southern Iraq, though he still doesn't have enough votes to form a government because radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr, who controls the largest faction within the Shi'ite coalition, refuses to accept Maliki staying on as prime minister. For his part, Allawi is flirting not only with Sadr (on Monday, the two men met in Damascus and called for Maliki to step aside) but also the Kurds. This is surprising because Allawi and the Kurds were major rivals during the election and remain ideological opposites. (Allawi favors centralization in Baghdad, while the Kurds want more autonomy for Kurdish northern Iraq.)
On the most recent Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera, began airing Friday), Jasim Azawi spoke with Iraqiya's Saleh al-Mutlaz and one-time fly-over jounralist to Iraq Patrick Cockburn of the Independent of London -- professional groupie whose face appears to indicate -- I'm not joking -- he needs to see a doctor for a full check up. He can do that or not, I don't give a damn, but I did toss it out. Early on, Jasim noted the targeting of Iraqiya which has led to the deaths of at least 2 Iraqiys members of Parliament and many other candidates and party members.
Saleh al-Mutlaz: Well to decide who's killing these people because until now the government has not found or given any evidences on who is killing those people so we have to go to the objectives of those people. Who has the objective to create chaos and instability in Iraq and who has the objectives to ban people from going to the election -- either by killing them or by isolating them. You will find out that the only country who is doing that is Iran. And if you want an explanation for that, -- we will -- we will go on and explaining why we think it is Iran.
Jasim Azawi: So you point to the figure of Iran. Let me see, first of all, if Patrick will accept that explanation or he has a different reasoning for that. Go ahead, Patrick.
Patrick Cockburn: I think it's very doubtful that it's Iran behind it. One can never be sure in Iraq, obviously. I think it's much more likely that it's al Qaeda in Iraq. They opposed the election, they assassinate people, they have a motive here. I don't see why the Iranians should want to eliminate uh-uh members of Iraqiya. So, you know, you can never be certain in Iraq because such is the level of violence but I think it's much more likely that al Qaeda is behind these killngs.
Jasim Azawi: Before I go back to Dr. Saleh al-Mutlaz, let me ask you then, if it is al Qaeda behind these assassinations and assassination attempts, how come it is somehow limited to the Iraqiya list? Definitely they cannot reach Kurdistan, there is nothing against the Kurds, but also, for instance, the State of Law or the National Iraqi Alliance have not been assassinated. Why al-Iraqiya per se?
Patrick Cockburn: Well, it's easier, I think, in Sunni areas for them to kill them. You know it could be difficult for al Qaeda to go and kill somebody in Nasiriya or in Basra. That's one of the reasons for thinking it's al Qaeda who's doing it. Likewise, you know, attacks in Mosul, it's unlikely that the Iranians will be able to do that there or have proxies able to do that for them there.
Jasim Azawi: You pointed the finger at Iran, Saleh al-Mutlaz. Now it's your chance to explain, perhaps at length, what you mean by that.
Saleh al-Mutlaz: Well what's happening in Iraq is definitely an external agent. So who has the benefit from that? Let us name those who have the agenda in Iraq and they are external. One is the United States. Two is the Arab countries. Third is Turkey. Fourth is Israel. Fifth is Iran. The United States has no interest now to create chaos and instability in Iraq because they want to leave and they want stable Iraq before they leave. The Arab countries, historically they benefitted a lot from a stable Iraq. Turkey has always benefitted from a strong and stable Iraq and they had huge amount of money delivered to Iran through the good relations between a stable Iraq and Turkey. You go to Israel, Israel has already done -- has already done what they wanted. They removed the regime, they made a weak Iraq which doesn't show any danger to them. So I think they had done in Iraq more than they wanted and they have stated that many times. The only one which is left is Iran. Iran has objectives to destabilize Iraq for many reasons. Historically, they have the revenge on Iraq. If you go to the -- also the benefit from that to the Iranian side, they want a weak Iraq because they are demanding compensations for what happened during the war. And they can only get that through a weak Iraq. When Iraqi is strong, they cannot get what they came for. And if you look also at the targets, the victims, who are they? They are the previous pilots who fought Iran, they are the previous politicians and the previous mililtary. They are the one who has a national trend and they want to have a country which is led by a non-sectarian government. Iran's always wanted a sectarian government in Iraq and they want a weak Iraq. To answer Mr. Patrick, about al Qaeda, I agree with him, it is al Qaeda. But who is supporting al Qaeda? The support of al Qaeda? We have evidences that the training is being done in Iran and also if you look at the weapons, the explosives that are being used in Iraq --
And we'll stop there. (Jasim tossed to Cockburn at that point anyway.) Cockburn's convinced that al Qaeda in Iraq is the solution-answer to everything, isn't he? But if Sahwa can be targeted throughout the region -- with the press forever blaming al Qaeda in Mesopotamia -- why can Iraqiya? It makes no sense. Nor does pretending motive doesn't matter. It's a good think Cockburn works in the world of fiction because he'd never make it anywhere that didn't require a huge suspension of disbelief. ("Fiction" is writing that a woman who was stoned to death was, for example, "hanged.") We're repeatedly told -- including by Cockburn before Nouri taught him the meaning of that last name -- that al Qaeda in Mesopotomia is a rag-tag, tiny faction. And yet it allegedly does all this damage repeatedly. So which is it? Or do conflicting storylines not bother Paddy Cockburn who appears to suffer from some mistaken belief that he's writing the show bible for EastEnders? That's not fair -- EastEnders' plot lines are far more believable than Patrick Cockburn's writings. Sultan al-Qassemi (Lebanon's Daily Star) writes of his belief that the political stalemate is a dire portent for Arabs: "Maliki has displayed tendencies usually associated with Arab dictators. Even before his refusal to give up power, Maliki is said to have appointed senior military and intelligence officials without going through the parliamentary approval process one normally associates with a democracy. Prior to the Iraqi elections, The Times of London reported that Maliki had taken a series of measures to consolidate even more power in his hands. Maliki's lack of popularity in the Gulf is an open secret. Unlike the popular Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and a host of other Iraqi politicians, he has never been invited to Riyadh. Last November Maliki, confusing person with state, declared on his website that 'all the signals confirm that the Saudi position is negative regarding Iraqi affairs,' before adding, 'we have used up [all] initiatives from our side'." Meanwhile Sami Moubayed (Gulf News) explores Moqtada al-Sadr's possible role as kingmaker, "The only leader able to tip the balance in favour of either Allawi or Al Maliki is Al Sadr, who controls 40 seats in parliament. If he puts his weight behind Al Maliki's 89 MPs and the 30 MPs of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), who are already his allies, the incumbent premier would have 159 votes in parliament -- bringing him very close to the majority of 163 required. If Al Sadr threw his weight behind Allawi, the former prime minister would have 131 seats. With Sunni backing in parliament, he too could get closer to the 163-seat majority required."
Iraq's rocked by violence and Iraq waves are felt around the world. Let's hop over to England where BBC News reports, "The Foreign Office (FO) has declined to comment on claims by a former diplomat that it blocked key parts of his testimony to the Iraq Inquiry. Carne Ross, the UK's Iraq expert at the uN from 1997-2002, said the FO withheld documents he requested, and warned him not to refer to a key memo." Yesterday, Carne Ross' column ran in the Observer and we'll treat it as public testimony:
After I was invited to testify, I was contacted by the Foreign Office, from which I had resigned after giving testimony to the Butler inquiry in 2004, to offer its support for my appearance. I asked for access to all the documents I had worked on as Britain's Iraq "expert" at the UN Security Council, including intelligence assessments, records of discussions with the US, and the long paper trail on the WMD dossier.
Large files were sent to me to peruse at the UK mission to the UN. However, long hours spent reviewing the files revealed that most of the key documents I had asked for were not there.
In my testimony I had planned to detail how the UK government failed to consider, let alone implement, available alternatives to military action. To support this I had asked for specific records relating to the UK's failure to deal with the so-called Syrian pipeline, through which Iraq illegally exported oil, thereby sustaining the Saddam regime. I was told that specific documents, such as the records of prime minister Tony Blair's visit to Syria, could not be found. This is simply not plausible.
I had also asked for all the Joint Intelligence Committee assessments on Iraq, some of which I helped prepare. Of dozens of these documents, only three were provided to me -- 40 minutes before I was due to appear before the Chilcot panel.
Playing by the rules, I had submitted my written testimony to Chilcot before my appearance. In the hours before my appearance, invited to visit the Foreign Office to see further documents (mostly irrelevant), an official repeatedly sought to persuade me to delete references to certain documents in my testimony.
He told me that the Cabinet Office wanted the removal of a critical reference in my evidence to a memo from a senior Foreign Office official to the foreign secretary's special adviser, in which the official pointed out, with mandarin understatement, that the paper sent that week to the Parliamentary Labour Party dramatically -- and inaccurately -- altered the UK's assessment of Iraq's nuclear threat.
In a clear example of the exaggeration of Iraq's military capabilities, that paper claimed that if Iraq's programmes remained unchecked, it could develop a nuclear device within five years.
Carne Ross testified to the Iraq Inquiry Monday, July 12th. Of the latest developments, Jamie Doward (Guardian) explains, "Ross claims he was told his evidence must not refer to a memo from a senior Foreign Office official. The memo, to the special adviser to the then foreign secretary, Jack Straw, expressed concern that a briefing paper for the parliamentary Labour party had 'dramatically' altered the assessment of Iraq's nuclear threat. Ross says the 'paper claimed that if Iraq's programmes remained unchecked, it could develop a workable nuclear device within five years. The official's memo pointed out that this was not in fact the UK assessment, which was more or less the opposite: that the UK believed that Iraq's nuclear programme had been effectively checked by sanctions'." Ross writes Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) that the official response to his column misses two key points: "- that I requested particular documents (including those I wrote myself) and these were not provided me; - and that officials (from the FCO but, they said, acting on behalf of the Cabinet Office) attempted to stop me mentioning certain other documents, including the most damaging;". Henry Porter (Guardian) notes the need for New Labour to purge itself of its Iraq War crimes:
They believe they can finesse the record, yet some things are so serious they cannot be forgotten or ignored – Iraq, for example. Who doubts the truth of what Nick Clegg said when he classed the Iraq invasion as illegal, while being needled by Jack Straw as he stood in for David Cameron at prime minister's questions? Straw was at the heart of the decision to go to war and it seems mildly surprising that he showed his unembarrassed features in the Commons to confront Clegg just a day after the former head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, gave her damning evidence to the Chilcot inquiry.
For an administration that made so much of its intelligence about Saddam's threat to Britain, it is astonishing how Blair's people ignored, or simply did not ask for, the advice of the head of MI5, who stated that there was a very limited and containable threat from Iraq and that there was "no credible intelligence that demonstrates that Iraq was implicated in planning the 11 September attacks". Lady Manningham-Buller's evidence was certainly useful but Carne Ross, the UK's expert on Iraq at the UN, claims in his article today that documents are being held back from Chilcot by the civil service and that the panel is in any case inept at cross-examination. This is deeply troubling and seems to suggest that New Labour's corruption entered, and apparently still remains, in Whitehall.
Forget slippery Jack. He is irredeemable. But on Iraq the four younger men aiming for the leadership surely could do more than shuffle their feet, mimic Blair's evasions and say they weren't sitting members, or in the cabinet at the time. One or more needs to come out with it and say what went wrong and why New Labour practised the great deceit on the British public, causing untold damage in Iraq and, as Lady Manningham-Buller suggested, to our relations with Islam. Was it merely contempt for the public? Or was it something buried deeper in the psyche of the Blair generation, an exaltation in power – their own and that of others – which allowed a few ministers to be impressed by America's might rather than by what was right and reasonable? Again, I exclude Diane Abbott, a constant critic of the war.
UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is scheduled to testify to the Inquiry tomorrow. Do you know what would be really embarrassing about the above news if you were a writer in the US? Insisting that Iraq was no longer an issue in England. Ah, poor stupid Amitabh Pal, always the loser, always the fool. In the US, the big news is the latest release of documents from a whistle blowing organization? Which one? The only game in town. Backstory, Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Philip Shenon (Daily Beast) reported last month that the US government is attempting to track down WikiLeaks' Julian Assange. Last week, the military charged Manning. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported earlier this month that he had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted enough and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Over the weekend at the National Peace Conference, a measure of support for WikiLeaks and for Bradley -- if he is the whistleblower (and the statement notes that he may or may not be) was passed. and signed by Veterans for Peace's Mike Ferner, War Is A Crime's David Swanson and World Can't Wait's Elaine Brower and Debra Sweet -- click here to read the measure at World Can't Wait. Space permitting we'll come back to the Conference later in the e-mail but we also need to cover Lynne Stewart and a few other topics. Sunday, WikiLeaks released more documents, this time on Afghanistan. Newsweek explains:
Two sources familiar with material currently in the hands of Wikileaks, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said on Monday that the next subject to be featured in media revelations based on documents leaked to Wikileaks was likely to be U.S. conduct of the Iraq War. The sources indicated the type of material likely to be the basis of anticipated forthcoming exposes would be similar to the military reports -- many of them from U.S. military units operating in the field -- which began to surface on Monday in reports published by The New York Times, The Guardian newspaper of London and the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel regarding U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and related dealings with authorities in Pakistan.
Due to the sensitivity of the material, the sources declined to discuss any of the still-to-be-revealed documents about Iraq in detail. However, one of the sources characterised the material as describing the involvement of U.S. forces in a "bloodbath."
The White House went into damage control yesterday and the whole thing seemed like a throwback to the days of Tricky Dick. In fact, the only thing missing might have been G. Gordon Liddy. Today, he emerges. George Stephanopoulos (ABC News -- link has text and video) interviews him today and he condemns the leak. Of course, these days, his name is Adrian Lamo but a convicted felon who tries to restyle as an uber-patriot will always be a G. Gordon Liddy and can ABC News please explain since when a convicted felon -- with no national security experience, please note, has any standing on this topic? (That's right, he doesn't.) Wait! Convicted felon? Oh, I can't leave it at that. Convicted felon and pervert. If Adrian's going to continue whisper campaign -- and he did it again today to two reporters -- about Bradley Manning (floating various supposed sexual revelations but doing so 'off the record' as Lamo continues his efforts to poison the press against Bradley), then let's be very clear that you don't get much more perverted than Adrian Lamo and, in fact, ABC News should issue a warning to get children out of the room before they ever show Lamo on the TV screens. To 'cover' the WikiLeaks story, little Ezra Klein (Washington Post) links to his cock-knocking buddy Spency Ackerman. If you gave as much verbal head to get ahead as Ezra did, you'd think you'd have gotten further, don't you? Like a male actor sleeping with Joel Schumacher who then pulls strings to get the actor on the cover of Vanity Fair and leaves the world pondering over a decade later how ___ became a so-called 'star,' Ezra's 'fame' (low-watt as it is) is all about the circle-jerk and he was damn lucky that the Columbia School of Journalism has no ethics or morals and refused to police their own. So Ezra hopped in a hot tub with ___ and Ezra became a CJR star, rewarded with lavish public praise and with multiple links. (We're not implying sex, Ezra's too frightening to trade on sex.) That's how a whore becomes a name -- even when it's just such a tiny name. And that whoring is what Ezra does today at the Washington Post whose reputation he trashes in order to do a reach-around on his boy pal Spency. Remember that -- at the Washington Post now, it's not about reporting. It's about lying to readers so that you can link to your friends who will then link back to you and Ezra just knows no one will ever be the wiser. Considering that Ezra's Journolist was used to map out strategies and narratives, the Washington Post should not be allowing him to link to his circle jerk buds. But Spency has to pay the bills! And he's new to Wired! And despite public statements, Wired management is now nervous about Spencer due to the Journolist. See, whether or not the strategy was implemented (it appears to have been implemented), Spencer's suggesting that the way to shut down coverage of a story was to scream "RACIST!" at people doesn't play well. And Ezra decision to link-f**k Spency? Even if doing so risks the repuation of the Washington Post which, for the record, is not in the business of stifling debate by screaming "RACIST!" at those it disagrees with. [Late to the party on Journolist? See Hillary Is 44's "Hillary Was Smeared First - DailyCaller, Race-baiting JournoList, And DailyKos DailyKooks - The Big Media/Big Blog Cartel," "'Call Them Racists' - The New Racism And The Political Importance of JournoList JournoGate; JournoLister Ben Smith's Delusions; And Scooter Libby" and "The Barack Obama Campaign Started "Call Them Racist" - JournoList Followed - And A Shocking 'Hooray For Tucker Carlson'!") and this week's edition of Third.
While Marcy [Winograd] provided the progressive candidate's view of the media, Wendell Potter gave that of a former corporate hack and a current whistleblower, Cohen that of a former television talking head and current media critic and university professor, and the always brilliant John Nichols laid out in concise detail the documented dying of the old media and the lack of any birth, as of yet, of a new media that can replace it. Here's Cohen:
Also on Saturday, we shared notes in regional groupings, and I took part in the Southern one, where energy was high and planning eager. Southern progressives are on the move and planning a regional conference, possibly in Atlanta.
Sunday morning, we split up along other lines, joining one or more of PDA's six Issue Organizing Teams:
• End War and Occupation IOT: Norman Solomon and Steve Carlson, table leaders
• Healthcare for All/Single-payer IOT: Donna Smith and Chuck Pennacchio, table leaders
• Stop Global Warming/Environmental IOT: Laura Bonham, table leader
• Accountability and Justice IOT: Susan Harman and David Swanson, table leaders
• Amend to Suspend Action Group (opposing corporate personhood): Dave Keeler, table leader
• Immigration Reform Action Group: Dan O'Neal, table leader
PDA is a major participant in immigrant rights struggles in Arizona and wants everyone to watch for big actions there on Thursday, July 29th. Through the combination of two groups into a single meeting, and by running down the hall, I was able to take part in three of the meetings. Each group laid plans for the coming months, assigned roles, and jumped to work, including taking on this week's expected House vote on war escalation funding. At the same time, some of PDA's key anti-war leaders were attending and playing a leading role in a huge and hugely successful national peace conference in Albany, NY. The peace movement is joining forces with the labor and civil rights movements this fall, and PDA is in the thick of that. George Korn from Rainbow PUSH was at the PDA Conference planning a campaign for Jobs, Justice, and Peace with the United Auto Workers and others.
If those links don't work, go to his site. In the e-mail they were sent in, they're open (not closed) tags and I've had to log on to edit them myself as we try to slim down the snapshot which is way too long. But we're including Lynne. David has a note in his piece about PDA and I'm not trying to spit on him by noting that I don't believe the answer comes from new members of Congress. They've tried that strategy over and over. After giving his word Dennis Kucinich -- the PDA poster boy -- still caved and stuck America with that horrid ObamaCare -- which is not universal, single-payer and doesn't have the weak-ass public option that little Harry Reid wanted to tell Nutroots Nation this weekend they might get if they worked really hard. Golly, Harry weren't you the one elected, aren't you the member of the Senate, aren't you the Majority Leader, shouldn't your candy ass be working instead of tossing your responsibilites onto the voters? Nutroots got covered, Swanson's gathering didn't. For that reason, we're including and if we had more space, we'd include more of it. But as repeatedly noted, I do not think that we do the same thing over and over. (And if Marcy Winograd ever actually wants to win a seat in Congress, someone might try walking her through that. She could have won this year but she and her campaign did everything wrong. To defeat Jane Harman, Marcy needs to grasp, would mean losing a lot of pork Jane can provide via her seniority. Marcy needs to make clear to the voters how Marcy in Congress means money for the district. That was among the campaign's biggest mistakes. If she runs in 2012, she and her campaign need to rectify that.)
Now for Lynne. Michael Steven Smith writes "The Sentencing of Lynne Stewart" at the Center for Constitutional Rights:
Lynne Stewart is a friend. She used to practice law in New York City. I still do. I was in the courtroom with my wife Debby the afternoon of July 19th for her re-sentencing. Judge John Koeltl buried her alive.
We should have seen it coming when he told her to take all the time she needed at the start when she spoke before the sentence was read. It didn't matter what she said. He had already written his decision, which he read out loud to a courtroom packed with supporters. It was well crafted. Bulletproof on appeal. He is smart and cautious.
After about an hour into his pronouncement, he came to the buried alive part. He prefaced it by citing the unprecedented 400 letters of support people had sent him, all of which he said he read. He noted Lynne's three decades of service to the poor and the outcast. He stressed that she is a seventy-year-old breast cancer survivor with high blood pressure and other serious health problems. And then he laid it on her: 120 months.
Everyone in the courthouse divided 120 by 12. He had given her a death sentence, we all thought. She'll never get out. He almost quadrupled the 28 month sentence he had originally pronounced. She had told him that 28 months was a horizon, that she had hope. But no more.
Lynne's granddaughter gasped. Then started sobbing. She kept crying even as Judge John Koeltl kept reading. And reading. And reading. It was awful. The sentence was pitiless and cruel. How to understand it?
Lynne's lawyer Jill Shellow Levine rose after the judge finished. She asked him why. He was candid. He was told to do it by his supervisors, the judges on the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. This court is an institution of the elite. It is considered the second highest court in America next to the Supreme Court because it presides over the financial center of the empire, not its capital, that is in D.C., but its real capital. This court makes policy and Lynne Stewart was to be made an example of in "the war against terrorism" just as a half a century before, in the same court, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were condemned to death in the war against communism, told that they had caused the deaths of 50,000 U.S. soldiers in the Korean War, and found guilty of the ridiculous charge of "stealing the secret" of the atomic bomb, when there was no secret, it was only a matter of technology. The sentencing Judge Kaufman knew they would leave behind two orphan children, Robert and Michael, ages six and three.
There's more, use the link. Michael Smith is a co-host -- with Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian -- of Law & Disorder (airs on WBAI Mondays and elsewhere around the country throughout the week) which this week speaks with Vinie Burrows about the Lynne Stewart case. Ralph Poynter is Lynne's husband. He made the following statement last week.
Ralph Poynter: Just a brief statement on Lynne Stewart's sentencing. It's perjury, thy name is the United States government. The president-elect begins lying when announcing candidacy only to reneg on every promise. War, health care, Social Security, economy, etc. To excuse the president, it is quoted, he must perjure him or herself to become president. It is an understood and unstated American way, accepted perjury. When taking the oath of office, the president swears to uphold the Constitution and then proceeds to support the dismantling of the Constitution: The Patriot Act, hypocritical perjury. In office, the president employs signing -- that is, after signing a bill, signing a statement saying he will not abide by the bill. Pre-meditated perjury. There's more perjury gone on in this administration in these few years than all of the Bush administration. When Lynne Stewart was attacked by the government for making a press release on the Sheik's behalf it was revealed that other attorneys had made press releases as she did. The New York federal prosecutor said they didn't know about them. The national federal prosecutor said other lawyers should be charged and arrested. The Second Circuit of Appeals said it was selective prosecution but they would not deal with it and that Lynne Stewart should be further prosecuted and given a harsher sentence. Prosecutorial perjury. Is there anyone on the planet who does not know that the landmark [stage?] was hatched and planned for by the U.S. government with an Egyptian operative named Emad Salem? Is there anyone on this planet who does not know that the F.B.I. directed every step of the plot while promising unemployed, hapless hangers on money to be involved this so-called plot? It was staged, financed and filmed by the covert operative Emad Salem with constant oversight by the F.B.I. They desired to credit the blind Sheik. The F.B.I. charged the Sheik for not reporting the F.B.I. operative to the F.B.I. The blind Sheik merely said, "I don't think this would be good for Islam and go pick another target" -- never acquiesing to a plan of Emad Salem's. National security perjury. The judge first rejected this case against Lynne Stewart as being vague. The judge reversed himself and allowed the case to proceed. The judge allowed Osama bin Laden in the case while saying it had only to do with the state of mind of a third defendant. He allowed the massacre of Luxor in the case -- I guess for dramatic effect -- although having nothing to do with the case. Finally, I want to talk about the perjury on the part of the part of the so-called progressive people who leap to embrace any and every petty accusation made about Lynne Stewart. She is arrogant. She would like to think she would support and defend the First Amendment, speech. She would like to think she would defend the right for people to have an attorney. She is not remorseful. And have people forgotten, have we forgotten bravery, courage, Patrick Henry, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer? Have we forgotten the principles of Lynne Stewart -- the principles that she stood by for 50 years? Have we forgotten who we claim to be? Progressive people, whose side are we on, brothers and sisters? Let us remember John Paul Jones: We have not yet begun to fight. Join us. Join Lynne. Join the struggle, the view of America that is inclusive and the view that we think America should have and should become.
Ruth transcribed that. And, as she noted, WBAI's Taking Aim this Tuesday (5:00 p.m. EST) is planning on using the full hour to discuss the case of Lynne Stewart (and Ralph's comment can be heard on last week's Taking Aim, already archived).