Justice for Lynne Stewart!
Notes from the trial...
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
As the trial passes the one month anniversary – it becomes more surreal than real and yet it is happening – it unfolds each day in the familiar (to me!) trappings of a federal trial. We moved daily this week thru more sermons, more newspaper clippings, more telephone calls - all read (drone) aloud to the jury and hypnotically scrolled through on T.V. monitors (normal and gargantuan).
On the legal argument front, we (all the defendants) have demanded that the Government play the complete tapes of the prison visits and prison phone calls rather than just "selected" (by them) excerpts. They have objected strenuously – besides wanting to have it their way, they also seem to be unprepared for this (no translations of the Arabic or enhancements by the FBI audio people) We’ll see – the Judge seems to "get" it – that the defense is entitled by fairness and the rules of "completeness" so stay tuned.1
Monday - July 19, 2004
In the morning, Tigar continued to attack the technical foundations of the tapes’ reliability. Once again, Agent Scott Kerns was on the stand to be prodded and poked and skewered. The government also introduced the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a 1928 book that is a scurrilously anti-Semitic attack, purporting to be the "discovery" of the Jewish "plot" to "rule" the world. (This copy was found in my co-defendant’s garage.) By last weekend (7/25) the government in their usual convoluted style was now firing off letters asking to call witnesses to tell the jury that the Government did not believe the document to be the truth. It is still extremely troublesome to me that you could possibly be convicted for the books, the newspaper articles etc. you allegedly have in your possession ...first amendment, anyone?!
That afternoon, we saw the first of the Minnesota FBI agents who set up the taping of the Sheik’s visits in the prison hospital in Rochester. (All of them were from the Minneapolis office – wasn’t that the very place the whistle blower was ignored after she reported Mr. Massaoui’s flying lessons before 9/11? I guess they were too busy taping privileged conversations!!) We heard from Agents Cynthia McGrath, Richard Osborn, David Price and ultimately Brian Bartholomey.
In attendance on this Monday were Guild executive Board member David Gespass and his wife, Kathleen Johnson (organizing for the upcoming 2004 Guild Convention in Birmingham, Alabama) Also here were student interns from PRLDE, (Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund) with their mentor. So good to see and speak with these folks!
Tuesday - July 20
We heard this morning from an expert’s expert on the enhancement of audio tapes, Ex FBI agent Noel Herrold. 30 years experience who using state of the art equipment (D3 Tapes and player) listened to and enhanced the prison tapes. What a contrast to FBI Agents Kerns and Elliot – their "experts," pursuant to Raytheon & Lockheed, who seized, stored and decompressed the degraded tapes!
The day also had more readings from the New York Times, etc. - Snoozeville - but with a looming wake-up call probably at the time of government’s summation.
In the audience this day, actress Elizabeth Quincey and an ex-client (acquitted in this very Courthouse after the Brinks trial 9/83!) Bilal Sunni Ali, who has been organizing around numerous good causes, including Jamel Al Amin (formerly Rap Brown) ever since. What a lift for me to be reminded of that day when he walked right out of this very place!! Also, my heart’s delight Aillanna Eyssellene, grandchild number 5 (numerical order), came in at the end of the day for a quick hug.
Wednesday, July 21
More news reports, Scott Kerns FBI Technical Agent for the third time, followed by FBI Agent Losinski another long time techie, who really had difficulty remembering what he did and why to the tapes, much less HOW! Tigar gave up on him. We’ll do it through our experts.
Another first was that after a month of trial, Lynne Stewart’s voice was heard in the Court, as I left a message on Sattar’s answering machine back in 1999. Innocuous? Yes! But not to this over-reaching prosecutorial team.
Thursday, July 22
Driving to Court, listening to WBAI while talking with Ralph and thinking about the day ahead I heard the tragic news that Farouk Abdel Muhti, Palestinian activist had passed away. He was in Philadelphia, speaking, as he and I have so often shared a podium, trying to win hearts and minds; when his own heart gave out. How ironic! That this simple man whose politic embraced the downtrodden of the whole world should be taken from the struggle by a weak heart – his heart was his strength! And my heart that morning was heavy indeed at the loss of such a staunch comrade friend and supporter.
The trial seemed even more perverse and imperial than usual.
The Government played more telephone conversations of Sattar, mainly in his role as activist and press spokesperson to Frontline, NBC etc. in the US, UK and Egypt. There’s a lot in these conversations about the repatriation of the Sheik – "getting him out of their (US) hair," "the Sheik should be released" etc. By the end of the morning (½ day for a juror), I was ready to go back to the office pondering life and death and ways to defeat this juggernaut of a US Government.
Monday, July 26 - Moncada - Viva!
It’s clear as we start today that the Judge is not going to allow the government to play pieces of the prison visits or prison calls. It’s also clear that a "solution" must be reached while not necessarily elongating the trial past October.
Then it was on to more read-aloud tapes of co-defendant Sattar. Most important to my case was a three way with Yousry, Sattar and Ramsey Clark, where ultimately the ex Attorney General on tape, in late 1999 makes a press release to a Cairo reporter indicating that the Sheik’s position is NOT to form a political party within the repressive Egyptian government framework. A press release? Materially Aiding? Providing the Sheik to his "followers"? So – Equal Justice? Or is it Orwell - some of us are more equal than others?! Not to us – because Ramsey is as strong in my defense as he has been in all his other causes!
At the end of the day, which saw lawyer visitors from Japan and Brazil (Columbia University) and France (accompanied by the unexpectedly by US. Judge Conboy) we adjourned for summer recess.
July 26 - August 9
OFF for the 10 day hiatus – to give the prosecutor a chance to get their act together(!?) WE are finishing up some commitments in the city this week and hope to do some loafing next. I know we’ll be back strong AND hope to see all of you as well!!
1As announced -- this dispute has led to the government requesting a 2 week adjournment -- and so we will be back in Court on August 9th.
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004