Sunday, February 13, 2005

Lynne Stewart interviewed by Laura Flanders last night

Last night, on The Laura Flanders Show, Flanders interviewed Lynne Stewart. The interview can be heard at Air America Place which archives the broadcasts of Air America programming. (I believe all the broadcasts, but don't take my word for that.)

From the interview, here is transcript (with many errors I'm sure) of one portion of the interview.

Laura Flanders noted that Stewart's trial took place in "the exact same new your court house where the rosenbergs were tried more than half-century ago" and that she'd last had Stewart on the program in July. After thirteen days deliberating, the jury returned a verdict.

Lynne Stewart: I don't think anyone was more surprised than I was on Thursday when the jury convicted on every single count.

Flanders noted that it was "hard to keep track of exactly what it is you were convicted of."

Lynne Stewart: In may of 2000, I visited my client, the government listened in on this entire visit. . . . however, they never moved to prevent anything. I took out a press release . . .

Laura Flanders: . . . you took one from your client and brought it to the press?

Lynne Stewart: Exactly. . . . he asked me to make a press release. It was a call placed to
Reuters -- hardly clandestine, hardly secret, hardly secret taking it out since they were videotaping and listening to the entire thing. And this indicated that his personal opinion had changed from being in favor of a cease fire to withdrawing his support. But he also went on to say that he was not asking for a stop to it, he was not calling for an end to it.

Flanders then asked about the agreement the government was making the attornies sign (believe they are called the SAMS agreement and that's how I refer to them later -- correct me if I'm wrong). [This is probably on Lynne Stewart's website but I haven't been able to find it -- admittedly, I'm hurrying.] [Note: I was wrong. It's "SAMS" not "SANDS." I've corrected it in this post.]

Lynne Stewart: We had understood that to mean, everytime you go into a jail, you sign the thing that you have to sign in order to get into the jail. When we signed onto these we understood that they were intended to allow us access to him but we also understood that they would not interfere with our doing what legally needed to be done. I think I relied on that and the fact that over the three years they had been enforced the only thing that had happened was that Ramsey [Clark] had made many many press releases in New York, Abu Dhabi, in Cairo on behalf, carrying his [the client's] words out and nothing had happened not even a letter. When I did it I got a letter saying that I would not be allowed to see him [the client]. That's what we thought the penality could be -- that you would no longer be able to be the lawyer. Instead two years later this massive indictment. . . . You know laura I just got an e-mail from an attorney up in New Hampshire: "I need you to explain why this press release was part of a lawyer's work?"
. . . We had a client that was convicted who had no place really to go except through some kind of political accommodations. No matter how unlikely it might appear on day one, perhaps on day thirty, it would not be unlikely. Of absolute necessecity to all of us, when I say all of us, the lawyers, was the recognition that the man had to be kept on the world stage, he couldn't be locked in a box because then there would be no opportunity for him to be a willing trade, let us say, for some political goal of the united states.

Flanders: So for him to retain any kind of political negotiating capital, he had to remain on the world stage?

Lynne Stewart: Exactly he was a world figure, he had played a role. His word was listened to. He was no longer in the field, I mean he was a blind sick man. He even said "I don't know what's going on over there, you know what's going on over there. I'm just saying that it appears that this is not working."

Flanders: So even if you felt the government's attempt to silence him was wrong, for all the reasons you've just described, did you not know that you were breaking a rule by taking out that message?

Stewart: You know I've been asked this question both many, many times from the moment I was arrested, on the witness stand, to my answer to the government. My sense of it was yes, we signed on to these things, but, yes, there was sort of a bubble in which we operated . . .
in this, because we had operated under them for so long, we had done the things that were on the face perhaps against them but we were never penalized, we were never questioned, we were never sent a letter saying you can't do that, we noticed you're doing this. It was accepted and we thought the government also felt that they would not interfere with what was legally required to represent him.

Flanders: You thought that they were playing their hand, you were playing your hand, but then things changed?

Stewart: Yes

Flanders: What changed?

Stewart: Well I think the SAMS were basically their ace in the hole, these are these prison regulations that we signed onto. They're basically not directed at the lawyers; all the lawyers are saying is "Yes, I'll respect this." And I think that they held that in abayence until they had an opportunity, or what they saw as a need, to take action because they had never taken any action and actually, after the press release, I signed the SAMS again and went back in to visit him.

Flanders: And yet after you're convicted and after the attorney general Alberto Gonzales says that the conviction has sent an umistakable message that the justice dept. Will pursue terrorists and those that assist them, you're out on the streets. How dangerous are you really?

Stewart: I feel like I should say 'no comment.' Because I don't want to call their attention to this if they really believe that. Well here I am and of course I've been out since the time I was arrested in 2002 as well. So we're talking about from a point of focus, three years almost and likely to remain out, perhaps, pending appeal.

The above probably has a million errors (not just typos, I probably missed some words) but hopefully it gives you a sense of what's there. (Community member Charlie enjoys Laura Flanders from the pre-Air America days; however, he's not able to listen via a computer and they don't have an Air America station that broadcasts in his area. So for the importance of the Stewart story and for Charlie, the above is offered.)

Also note that Laura Flanders is on right now with her Sunday show and they will be discussing the bulge under the Bully Boy's jacket with Dave Lindorff. Last night, among the guests were Anais Mitchell who has a CD BuzzFlash is offering a BuzzFlash premium.

There will be at least one more post tonight (Black History Month -- and hopefully there's one that a member's written waiting in the e-mails) but other than that, I'm just planning to go through the e-mails, listen to Flanders and check some stories on BuzzFlash.
[Note: It is "SAMS" agreement, not "SANDS" agreement. Charlie and Eli both caught that. Thank you both. 2-15-05.]