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America's Murderous Bureaucrats

The Government has decreed that the lawyer Lynne Stewart die in prison.


In the American justice system, even when a prisoner is not sentenced to be executed, the bureaucrats of the U.S. Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons still have extra-judicial ways of making sure a politically-targeted prisoner will die in jail. 

This is a recent example, when Kathleen Kenney, general counsel for the Bureau of Prisons, informed the husband of a 73-year old woman who is dying of cancer that her request for “compassionate release” was denied because her “health is improving… she does not present circumstances considered extraordinary and compelling… at this time.”

That is what Washington attorney Kenney wrote, without apparent irony, to Ralph Poynter, whose wife is incarcerated at the Carswell Federal Medical Center at the Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, Texas.  Kenney’s letter countermanded the April 26 recommendation of the prison warden that Stewart be released. 

How Does A Washington Lawyer Practice Medicine in Texas?  Badly. 

According to Poynter on, “This claim [by Kenney] is at once cynical and false. Lynne Stewart’s cancer continues to spread in her lungs. She remains in isolation as her white blood cell count remains so low that she is at risk for generalized infection. She weakens daily.”  

Lynne Stewart is 73, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, a librarian, and a lawyer (disbarred by her conviction).  She has spent most of her 32-year professional life representing clients who might otherwise have been unprotected from the justice system.  She has had cancer for several years. It has metastasized. 

The United States case against her is also a cancer, and it too, metastasized. 

In the 1990s she represented Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as “the blind sheikh,” in his defense against terrorist conspiracy charges.  Rahman was convicted in 1995 and is now serving a life sentence. 

Stewart continued to represent him in appealing his conviction, but she agreed to follow “special administrative measures” imposed by the Justice Dept.  These measures are bureaucratically imposed conditions that, among other things, allowed the government to monitor Stewart and her client without regard to attorney-client privilege.  Stewart acknowledges she sometimes violated these special administrative measures, but the Clinton administration chose not to bring charges against her for those violations. 

9/11 Changed the American Legal System, For The Worse   

In its deep panic of overreaction to 9/11, the Bush administration first indicted Stewart in 2003.  Those charges were dismissed. 

Within months, the Bush administration re-indicted her, and publicly proclaimed her guilty.  Attorney General John Ashcroft went on the David Letterman Show to announce the indictment, charging her before millions of viewers with conspiring to provide material aid to terrorists.  There was no one there to defend her.  In ordinary circumstances, Ashcroft’s behavior is a serious violation of legal ethics, but he was never sanctioned. 

In 2005, after a nine-month trial, Stewart and two co-defendants were convicted.  She faced a sentence of up to 30 years.  She was already undergoing treatment for breast cancer.  Judge John G. Koetl, saying he did not want to impose a death sentence, gave her 28 months.  Stewart commented that she could do it standing on her head. 

Judge, a Cousin of the President, Ignored His Conflict of Interest 

Nevertheless, Stewart appealed the decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, where one of the judges was related to the President.  As the Center for Constitutional Rights reported it:

“Judge John Walker, George W. Bush’s first cousin, sits on that court. His family made their fortune selling munitions during WWI. He wrote that the 28 months was ‘shockingly low.’

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