Lynne Stewart: The Terrorist Ma Barker?

As I have done so many times before, I’m going to write about something I have absolutely no idea about. But in my defense, this time that’s the point. The nominal topic here is a civil rights lawyer named Lynne Stewart. The 67 year old is facing a 30 year sentence for aiding and abetting terrorism. And I guess it’s possible she did, but my problem with it goes a bit beyond Ms. Stewart…it’s just that after everything that’s happened since George W. Bush took office, I have a hard time trusting anything the G. says about terror.

For those that don’t know, Ms. Stewart was the defense lawyer for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheik” who orchestrated the first attack on the World Trade Center back in 1993. She was arrested in early 2002, about six months after 9/11, and was subsequently convicted of enabling the isolated prisoner to communicate with his followers. She did this, according to prosecutors, by allowing her translator, Mohammed Yousry, to speak in Arabic to Abdel-Rahman about one thing while she pretended that they talking about something else entirely. The government says that what Abdel-Rahman was telling Yousry were instructions to his followers to plan and execute additional attacks on the United States. While no one alleges that Ms. Stewart speaks Arabic, they do say that she knew they were talking about something. Ms. Stewart has presented any communication ban as a violation of Abdel-Rahman’s right to free speech…the government says they’re preventing communications between terrorists.

Still, 30 years for a 67 year old woman seems extreme; it’s a de facto life sentence. At any rate, I’m not sure if after more than a decade in federal custody Abdel-Rahman could guide or tell any terrorist cell that follows him anything other than, “Go blow shit up.”, which they would presumably already know he’d want them to do. But even all the free speech, material aid to terrorists, communication issues and length of sentencing aside, I’m bothered by one overwhelming issue regarding this case. After six years I’ve grown so leery of anything the Bush Administration says about anything that my first assumption is to think Ms. Stewart is innocent, just because George Bush says she’s guilty. The Bush Administration has misrepresented or out and out lied about so many things…torture, secret prisons, WMD’s, you name it really, that it’s nearly impossible to trust them about anything. It’s like these guys lie just to keep in practice.

Anyway, it would also seem that just not allowing Stewart to see Abdel-Rahman would solve any threat she may pose to the safety and security of America. I doubt we’ll find this 67 year grandmother lobbing Molotov cocktails or priming thermo nuclear devices anytime soon. Even if she did, I think even the Department of Homeland Security could catch her. After all, how fast could she run?