Back in 2005, Lynne Stewart, a civil rights lawyer, was convicted of providing material support to terrorists. She is in the news now because she has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for her part in aiding convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman. If you haven’t heard of Omar Abdel-Rahman, you were probably paying attention only to items covered by the mainstream media, so let me fill you in a bit. In 1995, Rahman was convicted of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing two years earlier. So he is obviously a really nice guy. Stewart was convicted for providing material support to him and his terrorist organization. But she claims her innocence:
In a letter to the judge, Stewart proclaimed: “I am not a traitor.” She said she did not intentionally enter into any conspiracy to help a terrorist organization.
But being a lawyer, she should know that the charge of treason isn’t based on intent. The Constitution defines treason in Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” And what Stewart did was most certainly giving aid and comfort to our nation’s enemies. Again, as Stewart’s 2005 conviction states, she was found guilty of “providing material support to terrorists.” Sure sounds like giving “aid and comfort” to our enemies to me. But rather than giving her a 30-year sentence as federal guidelines state, District Judge John G. Koeltl gave her 28 months because of her decades of “dedication to poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients.”
Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs points out an interesting aspect of this case: one of the people indicted along with Stewart, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, was sentenced to 24 years for his part in smuggling messages from Omar Abdel-Rahman to his followers. Isn’t it interesting that Stewart got 28 months for her part while Sattar gets 24 years for his?
And speaking of interesting, here’s an interesting quote from Stewart at her sentencing:
“The end of my career truly is like a sword in my side,” Stewart said at her sentencing. “Permit me to live out the rest of my life productively, lovingly, righteously.”
What she’s really saying here is “Please don’t send me to prison! Please, please, oh please!” I think she should spend her final days living life “productively, lovingly, righteously” in prison, perhaps making aid packages for the members of our military putting themselves in harm’s way to fight the same people to whom she gave aid and comfort. I see it as being a fitting end to her career, but not everyone sees her as equally guilty:
Earlier, about 150 Stewart supporters who could not get inside the filled-to-capacity courtroom stood outside the courthouse, chanting “Free Lynne, Free Lynne.”
“It’s not just Lynne Stewart who is a victim; it’s the Bill of Rights that’s the victim,” said Al Dorfman, 72, a retired lawyer.