July 2010, Week 5


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Fri, 30 Jul 2010 01:19:22 -0400
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Reader Responses to Michael Steven Smith's article, "The
Sentencing of Lynne Stewart,"

* The Enemy of My Enemy is Not Necessarily My Friend
  (Meredith Tax)
* Letter from The National Committee to Reopen the
  Rosenberg Case


* The Enemy of My Enemy is Not Necessarily My Friend:
Response to Michael Smith's article on Lynne Stewart

by Meredith Tax

July 27, 2010

I agree with Michael Steven Smith that the extension of
Lynne Stewart's sentence from 18 months to 10 years is a
reprehensible show of government vengeance. That being said,
his article shows a willful obtuseness about world politics
that is characteristic of certain parts of the US and
European left, who fail to distinguish between right wing
and left wing nationalism and see Islamic jihadis as

Smith says, "Nationalist opposition to U.S. economic and
foreign policy in parts of the Arab world is no longer led
by communists but by fundamentalist Muslims."  His
implication seems to be that, since Islamic fundamentalists
oppose US imperialism, we should support them on the grounds
that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  This simplistic
analysis overlooks the fact that salafi-jihadi Muslims are
not fighting for freedom but for domination of other
Muslims.  In fact, Muslims are the main ones who suffer
under fundamentalist rule - ask the people of Afghanistan,
Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia. The fact that these people
also suffer from US imperialism does not mean that they
embrace the Islamists - they want to be free of both.

Surely any thinking person can recognize that freedom has
more than one enemy, and that it is possible-indeed,
necessary -  to oppose both US imperialism and
fundamentalist political movements that use the cover of
religion to oppress their own people.  But Smith's analysis
can admit the existence of only one enemy.  He says:

"Lynne Stewart represented . Sheik Abdel Rahman, who was the
leading oppositionist to the U.S. sponsored Murabak
dictatorship in Egypt, which gets more money from America
than any other country in the world except Israel. In l993,
at the behest of the Egyptian government, Sheik Rahman was
criminally indicted and later convicted of the crime of
`sedition' for suggesting to government informer that rather
than blow up New York City landmarks he choose "a military

This description leaves out a few things; Sheik Rahman was
accused, with one of his followers, of planning the 1993
World Trade Center bombing, and convicted of planning to
bomb a number of NYC landmarks, including the UN. He is also
the acknowledged leader of Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (also
known as "The Islamic Group"), which engaged in a number of
attacks on civilians in Egypt in the 90s; the most notorious
was the massacre of tourists at Luxor in 1997, in which 4
Egyptians and 58 tourists were either shot or hacked to
death, including four honeymooning Japanese couples and a
five year old child.

It is one thing for lawyers to defend the legal and human
rights of their clients, including Islamic fundamentalists.
It is quite another to buy into their analysis and present
them as freedom fighters.  Not everyone who opposes US
imperialism is on the side of the people and only the most
deluded parts of the left could see Sheik Rahman as an ally.

Meredith Tax 


* Re: The Sentencing of Lynne Stewart

The National Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case

July 28, 2010

As the late Howard Zinn constantly reminded us: governments
lie. They do so out of fear and/or simply the desire to
protect themselves against threats, perceived or
misperceived. The country has not made itself more secure by
imposing a slow-death sentence on Lynne Stewart. But it
would have made us more secure and better served if she
would be free to fight for justice in the spirit of the
lawyers who, in the McCarthy era, were jailed, fined and
disbarred because they represented progressive defendants.
Another such attorney was Emanuel Bloch, the lawyer for the
Rosenbergs, who faced a disbarment charge for his zeal in
their defense. Such lawyers are deservedly revered as
advocates for justice for those who needed it most, just as
Lynne Stewart will be when the history of our time is

A new danger has been thrust at the judiciary, prosecutors
and lawyers by the extraordinary increase in Lynne Stewart's
sentence. Judges will feel compelled to impose maximum
sentences to protect themselves from criticism by the
Justice Department that they are "soft" on "disloyal"
persons. Prosecutors will believe they must demand maximum
sentences to comply with the views and policies of the
Attorney General. Defense lawyers will labor under the
threat that their lawful services for their clients will
identify them with the crimes their clients are charged
with. This is not good news for American justice.

The Justice Department's demand for this sentence also
creates a new form of death sentence - a sentence that is
virtually certain to end with the death of the sentenced.
The Justice Department has often regarded itself as having
the same power as our military: to kill "enemies" of the
United States. Another consequence of the re-sentencing is
that the United States, already known as the "prison
capital" of the world because we imprison a greater percent
of our population than any other so-called civilized and
developed country, will escalate that percent even further.
Those who have perpetrated this cruelty have brought shame
to the country.

If the President, formerly a constitutional law professor,
wants to distance himself from this shame, he can put an end
to it by pardoning Lynne Stewart, and commuting her sentence
to time served. While he is at it, he ought to order a
review of the trials of Leonard Peltier and Jonathan
Pollard, and might also instruct his Attorney General to
examine closely the denial of Constitutional rights to Mumia
Abu-Jamal by the State of Pennsylvania. And, of course, he
might posthumously exonerate Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for
being wrongly put to death.

May we all live to see those things happen.


David Alman, President
Tibby Brooks, Executive Director
Leonard J. Lehrman, Corresponding Secretary
The National Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case



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