AMY GOODMAN: After the verdict was read out, Lynne Stewart
emerged from the courthouse with her husband and spoke to
reporters gathered outside.
LYNNE STEWART: I'm still very shook up and surprised and
disappointed that the jury didn't see what we saw. But I think,
as one my counsel put it, when you put Osama bin Laden in a
courtroom and ask the jury to ignore it, that’s asking a lot. We
are not giving up, obviously. We are going to fight on. This is
the beginning of a longer struggle. I think everyone who has a
sense that the United States needs to protect the Constitution
at this time understands that struggle. And this case could be,
I hope it will be, a wakeup call to all of the citizens of this
country and all of the people who live here that you can't lock
up the lawyers. You can't tell the lawyers how to do their job.
You've got to let them operate. And I will fight on. I'm not
giving up. I know I committed no crime. I know what I did was
right. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Lynne Stewart speaking outside the courthouse
yesterday. She joins us today in our firehouse studio just
blocks away from where she was tried. We are also joined by her
lawyer Mike Tigar, as well as former U.S. Attorney General
Ramsey Clark, who testified in the Lynne Stewart trial. He also
was recently named as one of Saddam Hussein's attorneys. And we
welcome them all to Democracy Now! Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Lynne, most -- obviously everyone was stunned by
the verdict, and most people figured that as the jury continued
to deliberate for so many days, that there was a greater
likelihood that they would find acquittal, at least on some of
the charges. Your response now that you've had a full day to
think about it, and what happened in the courtroom in terms of
the jury's deliberations?
LYNNE STEWART: Well, we definitely felt during the time that
there were people that were asking the right questions, that
were clearly setting out a perimeter, we thought, that would
allow them to either bring in a not guilty or at least hang. In
other words, be divided and not reach unanimity. But at the end,
it just appeared that all that opposition that we saw just caved
in, and in thinking about it, it just reminded me of, from my
earlier studies politically, which talked about how in a
democracy people sometimes are willing to just cave in to Big
Brother, and in a time of fear, which this certainly is, to say
I will believe whatever the government says, because that's the
safest way to be. The women -- three of the women on the jury
wept during the entire rendition of the verdict. Why were they
weeping if they thought they had done justice? You only can say
that somehow they knew they hadn't but felt that they had to
bring in this verdict which was asked of them by the government
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Mike Tigar, where does the case go from here?
There’s a July 15 sentencing. Will you be appealing before then,
or will you be waiting for the actual sentence and then begin an
MICHAEL TIGAR: Three weeks from yesterday, we will file
post-trial motions analyzing some of the legal issues and
evidentiary issues for Judge Koeltl to rule on. If he denies
those motions, then the sentencing will go forward on July 15
and after that an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit, and on beyond. So we are less than
halfway, let us say, through this very long struggle in the
AMY GOODMAN: We want to ask you about exactly what the charges
are and the implications of this and, of course, bring in
Attorney General Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General
Ramsey Clark, to talk about the significance of this. Also we'll
talk about the fact that you were both the lawyers for Sheikh
Omar Abdel Rahman, and the difference or the similarities in how
you dealt with him.
AMY GOODMAN: We continue to talk about the verdict yesterday in
a New York courtroom. The verdict against the three defendants
charged with terror-related crimes. Our guests are Lynne
Stewart, found guilty on all five counts of aiding terrorists
and lying to the government in a case that has reverberated
with, among others, defense attorneys around the country. Our
guests are Lynne Stewart, her attorney, Michael Tigar and former
U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Michael Tigar, for those who have not been
following the case closely could you talk to us about
specifically the charges that Lynne was found guilty of and also
the other defendants?
MICHAEL TIGAR: Count one was a conspiracy to defraud the United
States. Basically the allegation was that Lynn, Mr. Sattar and
Mr. Yousry evaded so-called “Special Administrative Measures”
(SAMs) which the Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons
imposes to restrict, shut off communication between prisoners
and the outside world and that they did that in Lynn's case by
issuing one and only one statement to Reuters, a public press
release and then clarifying it two days later. Well, as far as
messages, plural, are concerned, there was one message and it
was proven not to have any effect. But that's the conspiracy to
defraud. Because Lynne agreed to abide by the administrative
measures it was said that those agreements constituted false
promises or false statements. So that’s counts six and seven.
Sattar was charged separately in count two with a conspiracy to
kill or kidnap persons in a foreign country.
AMY GOODMAN: He’s the Staten Island postal worker?
MICHAEL TIGAR: He is a Staten Island postal worker. He had many,
many conversations in Arabic with people in Egypt. In Mr.
Sattar’s defense, it should be pointed out that we said, “Well
what country was the kidnapping going to take place in?” The
judge said that we don't have to tell them. “Well who was going
to get murdered?” “You don't have to tell them.” So this is an
unknown possible kidnapping in a possible foreign country done
by weapons that were never produced in court. “There are weapons
of destruction in Egypt,” said the Bush administration, but it
never produced any. It’s getting to be a pattern. He was
convicted of that. Then Sattar was convicted of his telephone
solicitations with calls back and forth to Egypt and Afghanistan
of crimes of violence. Lynne was convicted of conspiring to
prepare to assist Sattar’s conspiracy and with actually
preparing to assist Sattar's conspiracy. The judge rejected the
idea that so-called multiple inchoate crimes does pose some
danger to freedom of expression as well as being unheard of in
American law. And once again Lynne's alleged participation in
that consisted of this one and only one statement. I need to
correct something. Terrorism is not an element of any of the
offenses with which Lynne Stewart was charged. The terror label
appears in the catch line of one of the statutes. It is not an
element. And, yet, you can see how successful the Bush
administration has been at pasting the terrorism label on these
non-events so closely, so clearly that everybody kind of assumes
it, and it becomes a part of discourse which is, of course, the
difficulty in a trial like this. As Lynne said in one of your
video clips, “If you mention Osama bin Laden's name, you don't
have to present any evidence. You can tell the jury that he has
nothing to do with the case, but there's been this discourse,
this drumbeat that makes it very difficult for our voice to be
AMY GOODMAN: Is it fair to say that Lynne was convicted on two
counts of conspiring to commit murder in Egypt?
MICHAEL TIGAR: No. Sattar was convicted of conspiring to commit
murder in Egypt. Lynne was charged with conspiring to prepare to
assist him to commit the murders in Egypt and the only thing
that she did in order to do that was to issue this one public
statement which said, “I withdraw my support for the cease-fire.
Oh, by the way, don't cancel it. That just happens to be my
AMY GOODMAN: Let's talk about that statement, what you're
referring to. Explain exactly what this statement of Lynne
Stewart, why don't you explain of your client Sheikh Omar Abdel
Rahman that you are charged with taking out of the prison and
letting the world know about?
LYNNE STEWART: It was no surprise to them. They didn't learn
about this by their secret surveillance tapes in the prison.
This was publicly done, openly done, Reuters, of course, is a
well known international news gathering agency. They were
called, they were read a press release that had been dictated to
the Arabic interpreter by the sheik. It basically said that his
personal support of the cease-fire was being withdrawn. But he
went on to say, “I want you to discuss it. You are the people on
the ground. I am not there. I would like to escalate in the
media” -- because the group had also stopped talking critically
about the Egyptian government. So it contained all those
elements. When the news broke and it became “Sheikh Urges
Withdrawal From the Cease-fire,” we issued a second press
release, which we spoke to him on the phone and he gave us the
authorization to do, which said basically, “I am not withdrawing
my support of the cease-fire, I am merely questioning it and I
am urging you, who are on the ground there to discuss it and to
include everyone in your discussions as we always have done.”
JUAN GONZALEZ: What about these releases, the government has
said that you signed certain agreements in taking the case that
you would abide by the regulations that's they established and
to some degree they made a big deal in the trial itself about
you openly flouting the agreements that's you had agreed to,
that you signed beforehand.
LYNNE STEWART: You see, we operated and my colleague Ramsey here
and Abdin Jabara, we operated with an understanding that the
government knew we had to do the legal work. And to do the legal
work, that was permissible even though the SAMs on the face of
them might seem to say we couldn't do it. Because we had done it
and this was not a first time. This was many years, we had been
under the SAMs since 1997.
AMY GOODMAN: The SAMs standing for?
LYNNE STEWART: These prison regulations—
MICHAEL TIGAR: Special Administrative Measures
LYNNE STEWART: -- that regulated the sheik's ability to speak to
the outside world. But it was understood that there were certain
things legally that needed to be done and our entire goal at
that point was to keep him alive on the world scene so that we
could negotiate something, something that would be good for this
country and also for him.
AMY GOODMAN: Ramsey Clark, you're the former U.S. Attorney
General. You were brought into this trial because you too had
been one of the lawyers for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Can you
first respond overall to the verdict?
RAMSEY CLARK: It is clear that Lynne Stewart and the truth and
the Constitution of the United States are all victims of 9/11
and of a repressive government that is taking advantage of the
fear that they have helped create arising from that that is
destroying freedom in this country.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you elaborate on that?
RAMSEY CLARK: Sure. This case would never have been brought
except for the fear generated and the advantage that the Bush
administration was taking of it by the events on September 11,
2001. In ordinary times and circumstances, it would be
recognized that everything that Lynne did was exactly what an
effective attorney representing a client zealously would be
obligated to do.
AMY GOODMAN: Now the prosecution used you in the trial to say
you too represented the sheik, you signed off on the SAMs, the
Special Administrative Measures, and you abided by them, you
didn't put out information that Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman was
trying get out, they allege, though Michael Tigar is shaking his
head. They used you to show a contrast. What do you think of
RAMSEY CLARK: I don't know why you say that they used me. It was
the defense that called me, not the prosecution. I would never
have been in the courtroom at the prosecution’s request, because
they didn’t want me there.
AMY GOODMAN: Right, but when they cross-examined you.
RAMSEY CLARK: It is simply not true. I don't know of anything
that Lynne did that I didn't do. We did what we had to do to
represent our clients. And if you don't do that, then you don't
have truth before the jury or before the public and you don't
have the Constitutional right to the assistance of counsel.
MICHAEL TIGAR: I was shaking my head because in fact Ramsey did
come as a defense witness and the defense put in public
statement after public statement that Ramsey had issued in the
Sheikh's name over time that the government, in fact, in one
letter acknowledged violated the SAMs and then later went back
on it. They dwelt on it in summation and said, “Well, we said it
did, but it didn't.” And they never could defend the idea that
they hadn't gone after Ramsey. Not suggesting that they would,
but Ramsey Clark set an example here because he didn't have to
come to court and stand up for Lynne, but he did it, and it
shows that this case really is a threat to all the lawyers who
are out there attempting to represent people that face these
terrible consequences. You know, Ms. Goodman, you and I were
talking before. The only way that we will ever get to the bottom
of the American concentration camp abuses at Gitmo and Abu
Ghraib is that if the lawyers for these prisoners are permitted
to tell their stories to the world. If the government can shut
off that communication, which they have attempted to do over and
over and over again, these activities will continue in secret,
blessed as they are by the highest officials of government in a
country which has for the first time in its history given a
cabinet job to a fellow who says that the Geneva Convention is
obsolete and that the torture memo doesn’t mean anything.
AMY GOODMAN: So would you say -- sorry Juan --
JUAN GONZALEZ: What about the impact then on other lawyers who
take up these cases? In what particular ways will this verdict
affect their ability to properly represent their clients?
MICHAEL TIGAR: Every lawyer who wants to represent somebody at
Guantanamo, every lawyer who wants to represent somebody being
held by the United States under these conditions of detention is
now being asked to sign various agreements. I agree my meetings
won't be confidential, I agree I'll do this, I agree I’ll do
that, all of which limit the lawyer's ability to function as a
lawyer. Lawyers are battling against these restrictions. From
time to time some of them may feel as matter of interpretation
as Lynne did in good faith, this can't possibly mean that I
can't do this. It's that threat that they face. It is the
chilling effect on a profession -- only a minority of whose
members are willing to shoulder the obligation to represent the
oppressed that is at stake here.
JUAN GONZALEZ: What about this issue of the government being
able to basically to eavesdrop on all conversations between a
lawyer and a client? What does -- I mean, has that been tested
itself in the courts, just the fact that basically the
government has total access to the strategy and the
deliberations of a client and a lawyer?
MICHAEL TIGAR: It will be tested again in this case, of course,
but the Patriot Act and Attorney General provision that the
authorization can come from the Attorney General of the United
States and not even by judicial warrant, that has yet to be
tested in the courts of the United States. And this is not only
a matter of the American Constitution. The European Court of
Human Rights has long held that any interference with
confidential client-lawyer communication violates principles of
human rights that happen to be embodied in the European
Convention that are principles of country and international law
LYNNE STEWART: And speaking on behalf of the defense, the fear,
to me is, not the people who will say, “No, I won't do those
cases,” which may also be an outgrowth -- but the people who
will do the cases, but will now do them with an eye over their
shoulder to make sure that they're doing the way the government
thinks that the case should be done. In other words, no
challenge, no client-centered defense will take place if you're
thinking all the time, “What am I going to do if they indict me
like they did Lynne Stewart.”
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Tigar, are you suggesting the SAMs
themselves are unconstitutional? I mean, when you make that
point for example about lawyers going to Guantanamo and they get
word out about what's happening to their clients, if the
government says, “You can't say this,” that's, in effect, what
they were saying here, that you could not send a message out,
what your client had to say. Do you think that the SAMs should
be challenged themselves?
MICHAEL TIGAR: We have challenged the SAMs as a part of this
trial. Yes, these SAMs raise constitutional issues. But beyond
that, Lynne Stewart recognized that these SAMs needed to be
interpreted in a way that permitted the lawyers to do their job.
That is, when you're faced with a document as a lawyer, she
needs to go in and see her client, she has got two choices: She
can say, “This is unconstitutional, I will sue the United States
of America, and four years from now, maybe I will be able to see
my client,” or she can take the document in hand and say, “Let's
meet -- let's be a good lawyer, let's see if we can read this
document in a way that says we get to do our job, we will
interpret it as being in conformity with the constitution and
we'll do it.” That way you can see your client right now, and
that had been the modus vivendi. And in fact, when Pat
Fitzgerald, the Assistant US attorney said, “Well, you are not
interpreting it correctly,” he wrote her a letter, way back in
2000, and he said, “Do you know what we are going to do to you,
you are not going to be able to see your client until we get
this straightened out.” Nobody ever imagined until George Bush
became President and John Ashcroft, Attorney General that these
kinds of consequences would be poured down on a lawyer.
AMY GOODMAN: And now Pat Fitzgerald is the man now in Chicago,
who is in charge of -- chosen by John Ashcroft -- in charge of
investigating who outed Valerie Plame?
MICHAEL TIGAR: Yes, the fox has been placed in charge of a
different hen house.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Ramsey Clark, again about the impact on other
lawyers across the country, do you agree that this will have a
chilling effect on their ability to continue to represent
clients, especially in high-profile cases of this kind?
RAMSEY CLARK: Well, I think the good lawyers and courageous
lawyers will be inspired by Lynn's example and follow it. Our
freedom in society depends on that type of courage and
commitment. Lynne is an enormously courageous and brilliant
lawyer. But more than that, she's a loving person and she loves
this country too. And she did what is best for it. And she's
right. And history and perhaps, we hope, the courts will
AMY GOODMAN: Alberto Gonzales, who has the position you once
held, Attorney General, said right after the convictions they,
quote, “send a clear, unmistakable message that this department
will pursue both those who carry out acts of terrorism and those
who assist them with their murderous goals. Your response?
RAMSEY CLARK: Well, it is what we've had for the last several
years since 9/11, and if they pursue that and continue as they
have, to succeed convicting many innocent people including Lynne
Stewart, then the country will be in real danger. They’ve
terrified Arab-Americans, Muslims throughout the United States,
and they’ve terrified people who believe that you have to stand
up and speak the truth when it is important to the survival of
AMY GOODMAN: Michael Tigar, in three weeks, you go back to
court. In this call for dismissal, are you asking the judge to
set aside the verdict?
MICHAEL TIGAR: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: The judge?
MICHAEL TIGAR: The judge.
AMY GOODMAN: How does that work? I mean, a jury has spoken.
MICHAEL TIGAR: We have the right to ask for three things, first
for a judgment of acquittal, notwithstanding the jury's verdict.
The judge -- we moved for that at the end of the government’s
evidence and again at the end of all the evidence, and the judge
took the unusual step of reserving decision on that. The second
thing is, we can ask for a new trial on the ground that the
jointer of these three defendants together made it impossible to
get a fair trial, that some of this inflammatory evidence should
never have been received, and third, we can raise the
constitutional issues, most of which we raised and were rejected
or accepted to some extent before the trial. So those are the
standard post-trial motions that are made in every federal
government case. One of the great things about the Constitution
is that you're supposed to have this -- this way of having
independent review by an Article III Judge of the legal issues
so that if by chance the jury verdict gets carried into the
wrong territory by passion or prejudice, that something can be
done about it.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Lynne, of course, one of the -- aside from the
conviction itself, certainly one thing that must sting the
greatest is the fact that as a result of the conviction, you
have been automatically disbarred and after years and decades of
representing all kind of clients that the government obviously
didn't want you to represent, and I think back to the Larry
Davis case and the Attica case and all of these other tremendous
victories that you had against the government, so certainly,
there are more than a few prosecutors in New York and across the
country saying, “Finally, we were able to silence Lynne
Stewart.” Your sense of -- your reflection on that?
LYNNE STEWART: Well, that is my greatest sense of loss that I
will be cut off from this profession that I love and that I feel
that I have served, and I have served people who had no voice. I
have cases pending now that will now have a new lawyer who will
be undoubtedly my son who practices law with me and also has a
sense of justice and is a brilliant lawyer, but to me
personally, not to not be in the courts, not to be fighting
these cases will be a tremendous loss. I can't describe that.
That is the most profound part of this for me.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to the question that you were
asked yesterday outside the courthouse. Would you do this again?
You say it all comes down to this piece of paper, this one press
release that went out for the sheik announcing he wasn’t
supporting the cease-fire anymore. What would you do now?
LYNNE STEWART: You know, it was not a decision that was just
made off-the-cuff. We thought about this for awhile before we
made the press release, and it was considered that it was
important to him, considered important to our handling of the
case, that this press release be made to keep him a figure on
the world stage. If he had lost that, we would not have any
bargaining power, we would not be able to do anything that would
move him from this really torturous situation in which he was
being held a blind, sick man who did not speak any English. And
so the decision was made, and it was considered. Of course, I
had no notion of this kind of consequence. Actually, these
prison regulations, these SAMs said you know, “If you break
these regulations, you may be cut off from your client.” That
was our greatest concern, that we would be cut off from the
client. The idea of prosecution never entered our minds. But the
fact of the matter is, even with what has happened, it was the
right decision. You can't start saying, “Well, maybe I will do
this, but I won't do that.” It has to be that within the rules
of ethics, what vigorously and zealously defending a client
means you carry through on it and you do so wholeheartedly. I
believe with my mind and heart that it was the right thing to
do. I don't like the consequences. I feel for the people who
care so much about me personally and the terrible destruction
that has brought. But I do feel that it was the right thing to
do and that that is what we do. I think that Ramsey said it very
well on the witness stand. It was the right thing to do for the
MICHAEL TIGAR: You know, we're in New York now. Chambers Street
is down the road there. And there is a Delancey street. Do you
know where those come from? There was a lawyer named Chambers
and a lawyer named Smith who were stripped from the rolls of the
Bar in New York for courageously representing the colonial
newspaper editor John Peter Zinger in 1735 in this town. Andrew
Hamilton came to town and defended him, and he got him
acquitted. The judge who did it was Judge Delancey, who also has
a street named after him, but I understand that he mended his
ways after he behaved so badly at the trial. So Lynne Stewart
stands at a great tradition in this part of the state.
AMY GOODMAN: And of course, your trial took place in the
courtroom of Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg.
LYNNE STEWART: Yes, and we, unlike the Rosenbergs, have gotten
tremendous support. At least the movement itself recognizes the
case as being part of a greater issue, bigger than just those
two lawyers. It is part of the constitutional crisis that is
really facing the country right now and yesterday afternoon when
that verdict was rendered, that courtroom was packed. There was
no place to sit down. It was not the empty courtroom that the
Rosenbergs faced many times.
JUAN GONZALEZ: For those who would like to continue to support
your efforts across the country who are watching and listening
to your show, where can they contact?
LYNNE STEWART: The website will be up and running,
Lynnestewart.org. We intend to keep on fighting, to speak out,
to organize, to bring this to people and to ask people to come
with us on this. Of course at this date, we have no concrete
plan, but we know that that is what’s important, to speak out
and not to be afraid and to stand up for what is right.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, in terms of the years you face in prison,
if the judge doesn't dismiss the charges in a few weeks, the
numbers have been conflicting. Can you clarify? We hear 20, we
hear 30, we hear up to 40.
LYNNE STEWART: Well, you know, Amy, I'm 65. I have just begun to
collect my social security. It is probably a “mute point,” as
some of my clients would say, that is, whatever the time is, it
is probably going to be too much. But I think that the number is
45, would be a maximum. We have very little doubt that the
government will continue its ways, ask for an extra enhancement
based on the “terrorism connections.” All of these things, but
we are going to fight that in due course and if I have to go to
jail, I noticed that yesterday, the day I was convicted, was the
same day that Nelson Mandela walked out of prison, and he did 27
years, and we can name so many people that had to do time before
they came to the revolutionary moment. So for that reason,
whatever it has to be, it has to be. We're going to fight it all
the way and we will organize as we go.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Also on the July 15 sentence date, once the judge
sentences on that date and assuming that you appeal, would she
have to serve the time then?
MICHAEL TIGAR: Certainly not automatically. The government
agreed that she would remain out on bail pending the sentencing,
and we have good reason to believe that we can continue that
good argument for Lynne to be out pending appeal. But let’s not
underestimate, the Supreme Court declared the sentencing
guidelines unconstitutional. That's one of the reasons we’re
having the trouble, you know, about how many years, is it 35 or
45? That means that unlike the guideline situation, this judge
has the power to give Lynne Stewart probation and one of the
things the movement needs to organize around is to make this
judge understand that this is somebody who does not belong in a
federal prison. And if you -- there will be a lot about that on
the website because communications with the court are possible.
They should be sent to an address that you'll find there in a
few days and then they can be forwarded to the court as a part
of the sentencing hearing. This sentencing is not just going to
be walk in, find out, and walk back out. We're going to fill the
courtroom again and we're going to have a hearing and we're
going to have witnesses and we'll see where it goes.
AMY GOODMAN: That website is?
LYNNE STEWART: Lynnestewart.org.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for joining us Lynne
Stewart and Michael Tigar and Ramsey Clark, we would like you to
stay on for another segment so we can talk about an Iraqi
American doctor in upstate New York convicted of violating the
sanctions imposed against Iraq before the U.S. invaded. I want
to thank you both for being with us.
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