Justice for Lynne Stewart!
Notes from the trial...
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
This week - the fourth (!) Of my trial was Tapes and monotone readings by the Government Troupe, interspersed with fierce legal arguments. It was a week of the continuing smear - "T" word style - any chance to introduce Ben Laden "evidence" no matter how remote and tenuous the connection (a mention in a telephone conversation, of a newspaper article to my co-defendant Sattar is enough for this Judge to allow that paper Ben Laden bombast to be placed before the jury. Absolutely no evidence that anyone on trial ever saw or read this !) The highlight of this week for me took place behind the Bar, in the audience.
Monday, July 12, 2004
The entire day was taken with ex-Marine, no FBI Technical Agent Scott Kerns. He was called by the Government to introduce (sanitize) the tapes they want to use in the case.
Originally conversations were seized on magnetic tape (you know like those cassettes prior to CD & DVDs?) This system was sold to the Government by Raytheon (along with cluster bombs?!) At some point the Government compressed these tapes for storage (4 to 1) and they switched to a different system (Lockheed Martin?!) To (computer-digital) of seizing and the storage to no discs. In 2002, Agent Kerns started converting the earlier taped conversation to no discs and ultimately, DVDs for use at this trial.
We have contested, from day one, not only the seizure of all these conversations but the careless, sloppy and destructive methodology used by the Government to store and retrieve this crucial evidence. Tigar went after Kerns on Cross Examination - revealing among other things, that a number of the "tapes" had degraded in storage and that they had to visit an expert in Minneapolis to try to "retrieve" these lost tapes. (Did they make a list of what he retrieved? Oh. No!) Also, we learned that for storage, the tapes had been compressed 4 times - the experts say that there is always a quantum of loss that accompanies such compression. (There is much more but being of modest technical ability, I would advise any of you who want to get the whole picture to read the transcript of Kerns vs. Tigar 7/12/04)
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Convening Court at 9 am, the Judge listened to Tigar’s argument against the admission of the tapes. (We, hopefully, have reproduced this on the Website) Despite the brilliance and strength of the argument, the Judge, as expected, as usual, admitted the tapes into evidence.
To the witness stand next came the Arabic translator and although she and another were not disputed, it is of interest to note that neither, although Arab, was of the Muslim faith.
After the lunch break on Tuesday, the Government began reading once again. The phone calls between Sattar, my co-defendant, and various Egyptians active in the Anti Mubarak, pro-Islamist struggle are an insight for me (by hindsight, now) of the factionalism I know to be inherent in most political organizations and organizing. Ahmed Sattar speaks to all; from the lawyer for the imprisoned "brothers" and who engineered the peace initiative to the Taha Musa, who fled Egypt after being sentenced to execution in absentia by a court from whom there is no appeal - and was residing as an exile in Afghanistan - close then to the Taliban and as the conversations do show ever closer to Ben Laden. (Wow - too long a sentence, I think?!) The discussions, between Sattar and these others involve events in Egypt and the Sheik’s situation in this country. As time progresses Sattar in the tapes appears to be moving toward Taha’s position. The Government obviously makes NO distinctions - both the non-militant Egyptian lawyer Montessor and Taha are now announced to be "unindicted co-conspirators" and as mentioned if they mention a newspaper article over the phone to each other - the Government gets a copy, especially if it’s blood curdling or Ben Laden, and the Judge allows it as evidence. Do I sound enraged? – Well, I am. It’s like moving in to some kind of parallel universe where they have suspended all the rules and laws. We are in our time the Communists of the Fifties, the Scottsboro Boys, the Anarchists. And now the Terrorists – whatever Imperial America can frighten the People with. Judges included.
July 14, 2004
It was Bastille Da and we never even mentioned Robespierre but Michael Tigar and I hummed the Marseilles (spelling) The day started when my irreproachable, brilliant lawyer was so concentrated on the case that he left his suit jacket in his car and didn’t realize it until he was on the train bound for New York City! A quick call to the client - me - every resourceful got him out of his predicament. Ralph wears a 44 but the last time he wore a sports jacket was when we went to Paris in 1992! My son Geoffrey (42 long) was a better idea and I found that he had stashed at the office a wrinkled, but serviceable, blue blazer which I delivered to the Courthouse in the Nick of Time – only to sit for the rest of the day and listen to phone conversations and (you guessed it) more sermons! A local newspaper article here in New York called the trial "snoozeville" based on jury - sleeping complaints. The Judge has now instituted stand up and stretch breaks during the dullest stuff!
July 15, 2004 - ½ day - Juror to Doctor
More sermons, some bombast, some prophetic all tough listening - Snoozeville indeed.
Our audiences are thinning out - with the trial stuck in the doldrums but the quality of people showing up is 18 Karat. With the usual mix of players and activists, this week featured, on Wednesday afternoon, the invited students of my daughter in law Marta Stewart. These 10 year old public school students asked me pertinent questions, spoke with Michael and were perfectly behaved during their stay. Cheers for them and their lovely teacher! WE also saw Sharon Salaam - the mother of Yuosef, of the youths wrongfully convicted by police forced confession, in the Central Park jogger case. Sharon KNOWS justice gone terribly wrong and the importance of continually asserting innocence. We too know that and we’re fighting on – no matter how the clever, wicked government tries to twist the facts and the process!!
P.S. Check out the website for our "theme song" by Linda Allen, famed Seattle activist folk singer who sang this to me over the phone while Larry Hildes was here for the trial. She’ll be back in New York in September and will participate in a Lynne Stewart benefit! The words to the chorus:
"You will know who I am
You will know where I stand
If it all falls down"
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004