RW Interview

Lynne Stewart: Lawyer Under Fire

Revolutionary Worker #1162, August 11, 2002, posted at

The RW Interview is a special feature to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music, literature, science, sports and politics.

The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own, and they are not responsible for the views expressed elsewhere in the Revolutionary Worker and on this website.

On April 9, the U.S. government indicted attorney Lynne Stewart along with three Arab men-- Mohammed Yousry, Ahmed Abdel Sattar, and Yassir Al-Sirri. Lynne Stewart is the lawyer for Islamic cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, who was convicted and sentenced to life for seditious conspiracy in connection with crimes that never actually happened-- supposed plots to attack New York landmarks. Prosecutors claimed these plots were part of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

Stewart was indicted on the basis of conversations that are supposed to be confidential and constitutionally protected--that between an attorney and client. The government says Lynne Stewart violated "special administrative measures" that restrict Rahman's communications with the outside world. Prosecutors say Stewart, Yousry, Sattar and Al-Dirri helped Rahman pass messages back and forth with his organization, the Islamic Group. Stewart is accused of speaking up in English to distract prison guards so that Yousry could communicate secretly with Rahman in Arabic. U.S. prosecutors waited two years --until after 9/11--to make their claims. Now they say Stewart and the three men were giving "material support" to "terrorists." If convicted, Stewart faces up to 18 years in prison.

The government case is flimsy and designed to send a chilling message to anyone who comes forward to represent people being prosecuted by the U.S. government. (See RW #1147.)

Over several decades Lynne Stewart has been a lawyer who has defended her clients with passion, principle and expertise. She has represented political prisoners including David Gilbert and Richard Williams of the Ohio 7, who were ruthlessly targeted after armed actions against the government. In the late 1980s she successfully represented Larry Davis, who defended himself when a crew of drug-dealing cops tried to kill him. And she took up the defense of Arab men targeted by the government after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Lawyers who have the courage to defend those persecuted for political activity are precious to the fight for justice and must be defended.

The following interview with Lynne Stewart was done in July 2002.


RW: Last October, John Ashcroft announced that attorney-client conversations would be monitored by the Justice Department without notice to any of the parties involved. The case against you is being used to justify this gutting of attorney-client privilege, which basically undermines the whole concept of a fair trial and undermines the innocent until proven guilty principle. Why is this case so important?

Lynne Stewart: First of all, we have to move back a little bit. The sheikh is a convicted person. He is not pre-trial. So it's a little bit different for him at this point than it might have been were he awaiting trial. He's only innocent until he's proven guilty. He's been proven guilty -- even though I think wrongly. So it puts him in a slightly different position. He is a convicted person and therefore does not have as full a panoply of rights.

But usually the way this has worked was for those persons who they know, from whatever source, are committing new crimes -- they are always permitted to get a wiretap to listen to their conversations. They've always been permitted to listen to any conversations in and out of a prison, even a man with his wife. That's the big sign on the wall--all of the conversations are monitored.

But people still have the right nonetheless, no matter what their rights were in terms of being convicted or pre-trial, to confidential communications with their lawyers. Because you can just think of a million things he might want to talk to us about--notably his prison conditions-- without having the Bureau of Prisons and the Attorney General know what had happened to him, how it has happened, who were the witnesses to it happening.

We had ongoing matters with him. He had done his will. He had done a whole thing with some property that he had in London. He had done some things about his family situation, his daughter getting married, I seem to remember. And he remained a political person. It's just as if someone goes to jail and they are on the outside--let me think of a good one--a respected preacher, let us say, and they go to jail. They still keep preaching. They don't stop being what they are. Or an entertainer or anything else.

And of course for political prisoners in particular, there's a long and rich history of the things they have said from jail. I mean, if we think about Eugene Debs and his speeches--I mean that was great. The one we all love so much about "if there is an oppressed class, I am among them" was from jail. [ ed. note:Eugene Debs who established the Socialist Party of America, ran as a socialist candidate for president when he was in prison (1918-1921).]

So of course he had things that he said and he wanted promulgated. And one of the things that he did say--and this is part of the history of this, which we're not hiding--was that he was interviewed by the New York Times after conviction. And basically he put out a press release saying, "Avenge me, you Muslims. I'm locked up in these American jails for something I didn't do. I'm subjected to terrible insulting body cavity searches--which are against our religion. I'm not permitted to attend jum'a, the religious services"--a catalog of events, really very heart-rending. I remember I read this letter to a group of Muslims. They were weeping because it was just such a catalog of indignities that had been visited upon him.

It was after that that they promulgated the SAMs, the Special Administrative Measures. The Bureau of Prisons is supposed to be responsible for them [SAMs] because they're supposed to ensure that criminal activity is not continuing within the prison. But actually they've been used in very political ways. When the government decides to criminalize someone ,SAMs open all kinds of doors to repression of those people. One of the other people that has these Special Administrative Measures is Leonard Peltier. [ ed note: Native American political prisoner] He's also limited in his phone calls and whether or not he can speak to the press and what he can do in terms of political statements.

But there was no one that was more limited than the sheikh. And that is because he's blind, he doesn't speak English, so he can't write a letter to someone, because he has no means of writing it. He can't receive a letter from someone describing his situation. He has only one outlet, the telephone. And he was going to get one call a week to his lawyers and one call once a month to his wife. Originally it was two, then it became one.

So that was his lifeline. It was his only light in the darkness. Because I did a press release in contravention of the SAMs, the government claims it was justified in taping our conversations in the prison -- which were completely confidential. And, as we have pointed out, I at first was told I can't visit any more and I could not have any conversations with him on the phone. That was in the summer of 2000. Over the summer of 2000 into January of 2001, we negotiated with the government. We negotiated in good faith. We said I want to visit him again. I didn't say I want to visit him and have you guys listen to me. And they didn't say we'll let you visit him, but we're going to listen to what you have to say. They basically said, well you can go as long as you sign on. And we fought back and forth about the language of the SAMs -- because they wanted me to say that he had engaged in so many things that I had no idea whether he ever engaged in or even knew about. I couldn't speak for him. So I wouldn't sign that part. So finally they took out those parts and we were able to sign it and go out to visit.

The bottom line of the listening in was that they were going do it and they weren't going to tell us about it. And then they did listen in, one must assume. That's supposedly one of the conversations about "distracting the guards." But we noticed very interestingly they've never said distracting them from hearing what? It wasn't like they said, well, they whispered the secrets of the A-bomb, you know? She distracted the guards. It was all innocuous. Those visits that they listened to--unknown to us --for the next two months were not... well, we don't know the contents. As best we can remember, we did the usual meeting, the usual get together, talking about stuff, asking him what he wanted to know about, trying to help, reading him the newspapers.

But the bottom line of all of this is that the attorney-client privilege is really a bedrock of the way the courts function. Now, we're not going to say the courts are perfect or the criminal justice system is the greatest or anything else, because we know it's terribly flawed. But when it works, at its best, it is because there is a lawyer-client symbiosis and the lawyer is able to defend vigorously because that lawyer is one with the client. And how do you get there? You get there by building up trust.

Even in the most minor case there is a need for a certain amount of secrecy because you don't have to prove the case. They have to prove it against you. But your lawyer has to know something. If you have a secret witness, if you really were guilty of one thing but they have you accused of something else, if there is a person that can help you but who can also hurt you, your lawyer has to know all of this. But the government knowing it just destroys the ability to defend somebody. It really would be impossible.

I always give the example of a guy who is arrested for drunk driving who first tells you how many beers he had, what tavern he was at, but he really wasn't drunk. He was taken to the precinct. They gave him all these tests, you know, touch your nose, walk backwards. And he said they say I failed those, but I really passed them. I wasn't really drunk. I may have had too many beers, but I wasn't drunk. And my friend who works in the precinct knows this cause he saw me pass all these tests, and he'll testify. Well, there's two things you don't want `em to know. First of all, they don't have to know how many beers. They have to prove that you drank five beers and you were drunk. And secondly, you don't want them to know your friend who works in the police station. They would get rid of him. He'll lose his job. He won't testify. He'll be shook up by them.

So it just eradicates whatever possibilities there are for a fair trial. And it just puts such a chill on people trying to defend people. I mean there's sort of a gulf between a lawyer and a client and finding a basis of understanding and trust -- I would say probably more in the state courts than in the federal courts. But imagine if you didn't even have the privilege to say, "Listen, whatever you tell me stops with me. I'm working for you. I don't work for the government. We can go forward on this and I can give you my best advice." But, you know, if you can't even say that to the client, then why in the heck should he rely on you? How do we get stuff in front of juries? It's just really-- it's impossible.

It undermines the whole system. And it's scary to lawyers, too. Because they don't want to be in the position where they're singled out, listened to and maybe if they make what the government says is the wrong step, then they're indicted like I am. That's the other reason that it's very, very scary.

RW: This is clearly a political case. The government is trying to jail an uncompromising defense attorney to send a chilling message to other lawyers about what will happen if you defend people who are prosecuted for political activity or other `unpopular' clients. If they can go after lawyers who defend people who resist this system, the people would have no legal defense. What are your thoughts about that?

LS: I think it's absolutely true. It's very interesting that there's a clear division in my support. There's the lawyers, many of whom support me because they see their bailiwick being infringed upon. In other words, they can't take away the attorney-client privilege because then when I'm representing this drug dealer or this Mafia guy or this shoplifter, they'll be listening in.

But the other great portion of support is from political people who remember, or can think back to, a time when they called a lawyer and how important it was to have a lawyer that they knew would go in and fight for them, would not mince about. I mean, they're making HBO specials about the Chicago 7 because their lawyers were uncompromising and went to jail and refused to take the court's ridiculous tying up and muffling of Bobby Seale. [ ed. note:During the 1969-70 trial of the Chicago 7--seven radicals accused of conspiring to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago--the judge ordered Bobby Seale to be bound and gagged in the courtroom.]

So political people know that the lawyers are the first line of defense. And if they're gone, then the political movement as such may well be gone, because who are you going to call? There's nobody left except very scared people who are not going to do your politics, not in an open courtroom.

I get lots of flak even from the bar, who will say to me try to stay away from the sheikh's politics, Lynne. Your case is about the lawyer thing. And to a degree they're right. I am defending the right of a lawyer to defend. But on the other hand, I'm also defending the right of people to have lawyers they can call that will truly defend them, that are not afraid of the flak that the government can throw and what they can do to you.

I was standing on the courthouse steps up in the Bronx the other day. I have a case up there. And a fellow lawyer, a fellow who I've known for many years, came over and he says, "It's over for me. I'm going to just do my day in and day out, the regular cases. I don't want to be a hero anymore. I'm not going to get up in front of a jury and put my heart out there for somebody. That's over for me. I'm going to retire and stay healthy and well." And I thought to myself, I can't say to him don't do it, but I can only do it by my example, I hope, and say you don't have to do that. You can stand up. Look, I stood up. Now they're prosecuting me, but I'm going to beat them and then it'll be safer for all of us. It will create a kind of halo effect, hopefully, so that people will know that they don't have to fold up.

But a lot depends on the climate of the times. Things will have to change. I'm not talking about a radical turn-around, everybody-at-the-barricades kind of a change, but just people not feeling that they can afford to drop out, that this is not their issue, that they don't care as long as they're safe, as long as things are going well for them -- even, amazingly, when things aren't going so well for them. I mean, the economy is really tanking. But notwithstanding that, their sense of well-being is as long as Ashcroft will keep us safe, as long as Bush will make sure those people aren't hurting us, I'm willing to let them do whatever they want, I'll give that up. That's the big, big danger that I see, is that they'll cede my rights to the government, the people.

RW: Last December when John Ashcroft justified one of the government's latest repressive measures by saying, "To those who scare peace loving people with phantoms of lost liberties, my message is this: your tactics only aid terror." Since September 11, the government claims terrorism is whatever they say it is. And now they're trying to say due process is whatever they say it is--attacking attorney-client privilege, undermining the principle of innocent until proven guilty, claiming that "terrorists" don't deserve the same rights as other people, jailing people, including U.S. citizens, with no charges or access to attorneys. Can you tell us how you see the implications of these things they're doing?

LS: Well, I see it is part of an opportunity to just keep the flame turned very high on the American populace. When I say that I mean when people feel that they're being burned, they want some relief. So as a result when they bring up terrorism as being the thing that we must all fight, that's what this is really about--it really isn't about all that! It really is about a very conservative move to the right in which the government can do almost anything it wants and people just go along with it.

What's interesting to me is the latest revelations of this corporate cronyism, of people being economically beatified by just tons of money, which nobody gets in trouble for at all. It's sort of, I think, making people scratch their heads a little bit maybe and say, you know, maybe we should really be more concerned, we don't have anything to retire on now. Our mutual funds are gone. And they're telling me I have to worry about people getting on the plane with me? I'm not worried about anybody. I'm worried about the fact that those rich guys don't go to jail, they are going continue to do the same thing.

So I mean America has a tremendous history of having the real thing going on and the excuse that's made for it. 9/11 has been an excuse now for many, many months and people have gone along because they're so frightened. They just never thought anything like that could ever happen here. But the real problems, of course, go unabated, and that is the ultimate underlying reason for all this, I think.

RW: Let's talk about your life a bit. You have a long history of standing with oppressed people opposed to this government. Can you talk about your political development and how you became a lawyer, and why you've chosen to take the risks involved in taking on so many controversial cases? You mentioned you grew up in Queens and I understand you underwent some really dramatic changes in the '60s, especially when you started teaching in Harlem. Can you talk about that and how it changed your life and influenced its direction?

LS: Sure. Well, I grew up in Queens, which was white working class, lower white working class, I would say. In other words, people lived in little houses. They mowed their lawns. They didn't have maids. You never saw anybody Black. They didn't go to our schools. They weren't part of our lives in any way. They just somehow were out there, maybe on a brotherhood poster, in a book you might read somebody might be Black. But as I recall, they were Black but they were just like us. They were not different from us. They just happened to have a different skin.

My parents were both teachers, both educated people. My father loved history and geography and politics at a certain level. My mother was an English teacher. And people said, "That's where you get all your humanism from, from all the reading." One summer I remember laying on the back porch and doing Dickens all summer long, everything I could lay my hands on. Just went through them all.

But I was the fair-haired girl. I was the valedictorian. I had college scholarships. I got a state Regents' scholarship. I was the editor of the yearbook, the editor of the school newspaper--this was all in high school--in the leaders, the athlete, everything.

And I went to college, which was, I always say, the beginning of some kind of reformation in my own life and head. Because I went to a small Calvinist college--probably one that Ashcroft might approve of, you know, very religiously oriented in the sense of women could not wear pants on campus, women were not supposed to go downtown alone. Movies were forbidden. No smoking. You were expected to be in the dorm by eight every night. Very, very narrow. Very different from growing up in New York, which of course wasn't free like it is now. I have to laugh, I think of my granddaughter and how she has so much freedom.

So I hated that and I railed against it. And I saw the hypocrites that many of these white Christians were. They would spend all day Sunday in church and yet they employed Mexican workers on the farm who couldn't get a decent wage, who didn't have a decent place to live and whom they felt perfectly free to abuse, publicly or privately, at their own pleasure.

So I did a few things when I was in college, not really much, you know, speaking up at convocations and arranging for Mexican fieldworkers' children to come to the college--which was unheard of. "Those children don't come to our college."

At the end of my junior year I went to a special political science program at American University in Washington. We had a very, very dynamic leader. And this was now 1960, the spring of '60. She railed at us. She wanted us to become engaged in questioning government. She arranged interviews. And we talked to Justice Douglas and Dean Acheson, who was the ex-Secretary of State. We went to FBI headquarters and asked questions. And we had a tremendous exposure to government. It was also the time when LBJ was getting the civil rights package through the Congress and there were filibusters and all sorts of things going on on Capitol Hill. So it was the perfect time to be there.

And that further opened me up. I remember two things happened in Washington that semester. First, some of the kids were going down to the 5 and 10 [store] to demonstrate every Saturday because the lunch counters were still segregated in Washington, D.C. in 1960. So I would go with them and be on their picket line. It wasn't time for sit-ins yet at that point, but there were the protests. And the other thing that happened was that there was an incident involving a spy plane that was downed over Russia, the U2 incident. President Eisenhower came back from a conference and three or four of us carried signs when his motorcade came by -- something about why don't the people know the truth? We are entitled to know what's going on. If you're spying, you should admit it and we should have a debate about the spying. Or something like that. It was such a time. I mean, if you can imagine this, that four college students holding these signs up, we were covered by the Washington Post . There was a news story about us.

There was just no dissent at all. Everybody was just hiding under rocks or so intimidated by [Senator Joe] McCarthy, by HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee, that there was nothing out there.

The following year I got married, before I finished college. I was in my junior year. I got married that summer to a fellow I met in this political science program. We were both in this program together. That's where the name Stewart comes from. It's not my born name. It's my married name.

I finished at Wagner College. We went to live in Philadelphia. He went to medical school for a few months but because of personal problems dropped out. We came back to New York. We had a baby at that point. I started looking for some work I could do and care for baby. My mother had always been a teacher. So I saw an ad in the old newspaper called The World Telegram and the Sun . They had a special page for school news. And there was an ad in there asking for a librarian in a school at 135th and Lenox Avenue in Harlem. And I went up there and I was interviewed, all 22 years old of me.

And I'll never forget, I said to the principal, you know, putting my best foot forward, I'm saying, "Well, I minored in Spanish in college. I'll be able to speak Spanish to some students. I don't speak it very well, but I read it and I write it and I might be of some use and da da da." He said, "Spanish? We don't have any Spanish here. This is 100% Black."

Well, I did not know that Harlem existed. I had lived in New York all my life, in Eastern Queens, in Belrose, and I never knew there was such a place as Harlem. And it was like, you know, if you have moments when your eyes are opened --like Paul on the road to Damascus, you're suddenly enlightened by an event. This was certainly the event. After I left this interview, I walked from 135th to 125th Street because the trains are better at 125th. And I never knew that this place existed. And I could see the poverty, the terrible poverty. It was summertime. And of course like all people I said my goodness, do these people want to live this way? And I rejected that. I mean it just didn't seem to me anybody would want to live that way. So then there's got to be another answer to why they're living this way. What the heck is going on here? And of course I knew about discrimination. I knew about segregation. But I had never seen it so up close and in its urban manifestation where, you know, to me it was always a thing down South.

I got the job, I started work there and I started asking questions. I certainly realized very shortly that the kids could not read, that I was the librarian in a place where nobody could read the books in the library. And then I had to say, well why is this? Are they stupid? But of course the system -- personified by the Board of Education -- had lots of answers for nice middle class girls from Queens. Well, these people don't live together as families. There are no husbands so how do you expect these children to learn? Or they let them stay up all night and watch television. They don't sit down as a family and eat dinner. And nobody helps them. Nobody cares whether they learn. They can't be taught. They're unteachable. You can't help.

RW: The same things that you hear today.

LS: Right. So I rejected most of that. I said that just can't be so. There's no way that this is. So then I started reading like mad. Of course, my refuge in everything that I find new and different, I find out about it by reading and opening a book, which is really the true reason why it is so tragic that children are not educated to read. Because if they are ever to find out the truth of the world, they are never going to do it without being able to read.

My partner of 40 years, a little less than that, Ralph Poynter, also transferred in from Pittsburgh. He ended up in the same school I did. So while I'm on this quest I meet him. He's teaching across the hall from me. And he starts telling me. His father was a labor organizer. He's Black. He's a college grad and he's giving me the word on what's going on here, you know, and how it operates. How the "talented tenth" is allowed to be teachers up to a certain level and everybody else is just kept down. At a certain point we both were involved, first in the teachers' union, the UFT. We were the only ones in this school. Nobody was into union things. Teachers were too good for that. Ralph was extremely active in that and I was less active. Part of it became the whole struggle for community control of schools in this city, which we sort of initiated in a small way in this school that we were in. Then Ralph was fired. And then the parents put him back in and that coalition stayed together and fought for other things.

Then they got involved with IS201, which was to be a demonstration school. Old history you don't need to hear. But it was a tremendous struggle. It was community-based. And it's still something I believe in, even though it was co-opted by McGeorge Bundy [advisor to Kennedy and Johnson], who also gave us South Vietnam. And the whole notion of real community control, where the community actually controls what happens in the schools, was basically given lip service and became the biggest trough of corruption for the next 20 years, until it's just been eliminated recently. The community school boards are gone now, completely.

But out of that struggle we learned a lot and we also learned that at a certain point it would be necessary for people to be really dedicated in the sense that they had to say this is my life work. This is not just something I do on weekends for fun. This is what I do all day, every day.

We realized that people were not yet ready in the late '60s, early '70s, to take that step. But there were groups that did take steps, that did go underground. We were not of them, but we might have been, had things been different for us. But we did not make that choice. We remained in the over ground struggle. But we, of course, we were very close and could understand the people who did go underground and continue their work underground and then eventually were rounded up and arrested by the powers-that-be. The Panthers, the BLA [Black Liberation Army], the Weather Underground, the Ohio 7, United Freedom Front people, these are people that still remain in jail, the Puerto Rican nationalists, some of whom were released, some of whom were not released. So then in the `'80s they became my clients.

RW: You've represented all kinds of political people--members of the Black Panther Party, other radicals and revolutionaries, whose "crimes" have been struggling against U.S. imperialism, including some with charges that involved armed actions against the government. Why did you take these cases and what did you learn from them?

LS: I'm for directed violence with the support of the people. I think history has taught us that change does not come about except when people are willing to lay down their lives for it, to fight for it, to say I can't live like this any more. So I'm not against violence, because I see that's what makes change -- and I'm for change. I'm a hundred percent opposed to the status quo as it is. But I'm not talking about just meaningless violence -- the guy shooting out of the window in the clock tower or something, but politically motivated, what they call violence and what I call armed action.

And I still do believe in that. I feel in the most part these people were the vanguard of what might have been out of the '60s but never materialized. And it never materialized because the government, with its COINTELPRO [the FBI's Counter-Intelligence Program] disrupted it. Certainly the Black movement was completely disrupted by FBI informants and the money and the cooptation of people. Everybody in Harlem got a job. There were a million agencies. Everybody was working. Everybody had a big new apartment and a new car.

I'll never forget, Ralph gave a speech up in Harlem at that time and he was saying what the man giveth, the man taketh away. Five years from now there's not going be these agencies and you're not going to be living like this and then what will it all have been for? This is not what we struggled for. This is not to line our own nests, to be seduced into corruption. But a lot of people in the movement in those days said yes, this is. We want to be just as corrupt as white America. If we can do it, we'll do it.

I felt that most of these folks I defended in the '80s were truer to the principles I believed in. I also felt that they should be given the best possible defense because they were people that had really struggled -- given their whole lives to the movement. There was lots of debate then...there was lots of stuff about, you know, were they just ultra-left adventurers and those sorts of questions. But I could see the steady historic progression of where the movement was pushed to and why people felt they had to get away from the eyes and ears of the government in order to do any kind of work. But they expected the people to support them. They never expected that the people would go backwards.

RW: You've welcomed the challenge that Ashcroft and the U.S. government have thrown down and describe this as a touchstone case, something that points out the limits that government can go to in prosecuting people they don't like.

LS: Right.

RW: Where does your strength come from to fight this battle?

LS: Well, I have a historical view. I see myself as part of that great band of Americans that always fought for what was right--John Brown, Gene Debs, Crispus Attucks even, all the way to Harriet Tubman, all the people who said the government can tell us what the law is but we know what is right and we are going to carry that. So that's one source.

Someone once said, how can you defend these people--meaning the political people. And I said I want to be on the right side of history. And I still feel that. I think I am on the right side of history when I stand up against this real know-nothing government. When I say that I mean they are very happy to keep people really blind and dumb and sated with bread and circuses and football games and trips to the mall. And they do what they want to do--which is to steal the riches of the world, oppress the peoples of the world, oppress people back here at home and get rich and rich and richer beyond any kind of reasonable use that people could make of money.

So my politics are for a lifetime. The fact that I've been in struggle all my life on some level--not all my life, not as a kid, but I mean since I was old enough to be in struggle--all of that also informs the choice.

And basically maybe I'm just pugnacious. I don't like people to tell me you did a wrong thing, come and put your tail between your legs and we'll be nice to you. Maybe you'll get a bone once in a while. No! I didn't do anything wrong. I come from a background that says you stand up and you fight. You don't just accept what their definition is of you. And certainly my lifetime in this struggle knows that the government has an ulterior motive most of the time. The government lies. And at this time -- since September 11 -- they have really capitalized on fear, on the notion that the country is in some terrible, terrible danger that only they can save us from. And I think that's a lie. And it's a lie to cover up what they're doing -- which is to really be the most repressive abroad, the most colonial exploiters of raw materials and labor and everything else.

RW: And killing thousands of people.

LS: And killing, yes. In the name of anti-terrorism. The threats to Iraq, the Palestinian situation, which is completely controlled by Washington. All they have to do is make one move slightly anti-Israel and that situation could be resolved. But they won't do it. And why? Because it suits them to have an ally like Israel right there in the oil countries and an ally like Egypt, which is also key to the Middle East--key to why Sheikh Omar is in jail in the first place, because if there was no Egypt they would also be terribly weakened.

So all of that plays a role and informs my decision to say I know where these guys are coming from and I think that they have no case. I think I'm innocent. I think that I can win in this.

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