Precinct 333

Friday, February 11, 2005

Stewart Convicted As Accomplice To Terror


Providing material support to terrorists.

Defrauding the United States.

Making false statements.

Those are the charges on which radical lawyer Lynne Stewart was convicted yesterday. The crimes took place in connection with her defense of blind Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. She is not guilty of representing him vigorously, which was her obligation and his right under the Constitution. Rather, Stewart became an active and willing party to communicating directives for terrorist activities during her press conferences.

During a visit to Sheik Omar Abdel el-Rahman's cell in Minnesota in 2000, she and a translator conspired to distract prison officials in order to receive and later deliver a coded directive whose purpose was to initiate new terrorist acts in Egypt.

The sheik spoke the directive to the translator, who transmitted it to Egypt. But there was some question in Egypt about its authenticity — until Stewart called a press conference to authenticate it.

What passed between the sheik and Stewart was not an attorney-client matter, which would have been considered confidential, but rather a terrorist communication in the guise of an attorney-client discussion.

She had signed a legally binding document promising not to do any such thing so that she could see the sheik in the first place. Apparently, she figured there was no way the government could prove she had knowingly been involved in transmitting the terrorist message. What she didn't know was that everything going on in the sheik's cell was being taped.

In those taped conversations, Stewart and the sheik actually gloated about how they were tricking prison officials.

That goes well-beyond representation of a client. That falls into the area that is an exception to attorney-client privilege – the attorney becoming a participant in the crime. And make no mistake, Stewart’s activities did make her a party to the conspiracy to bomb New York City landmarks, including the United Nations building.

You think this sounds far-fetched? Think again. This lawyer to members of the radical-chic set hd often expressed her belief that violence and terrorism were proper when directed against our country.

The people killed and injured in pursuit of revolutionary goals deserved it, she said. "I don't believe in anarchistic violence but in directed violence," she once said. "That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism and sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support."

Such hypothetical advocacy of violence, while abhorrant, is permissible under the First Amendment. Were Lynne Stewart to have limited herself to such philosophical statements she would have merited our contempt, but not jail time. But when she became the messenger girl for terrorists, Stewart crossed a bright line from free speech to criminal activity. She deserves no sympathy. Especially because she lacks even the faintest trace of contrition for her crimes.


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