December 1, 2010

Lynne Stewart on FBI/Grand Jury Repression

Lynne Stewart on FBI/Grand Jury Repression


Lynne StewartMy message to you today is neither upbeat nor optimistic. We are living in dangerous times for our movement and it is getting worse as this insatiable government flexes the law to enable its nets to ensnare more people and further shred the body politic.

This past week’s FBI raids on the support groups for various political causes, international, anti-imperialist, peace, animal rights–make it appear that anyone who opposes government policy and speaks or acts on behalf of that belief is now to be denoted a Terrorist and have his privacy invaded or be subjected to a subpoena or potential arrest.

There has been a robust response from the movement with rallies and protests in many cities, the largest in Chicago and Minneapolis, where the most widespread raids occurred.

This is most excellent but unfortunately it may be too little too late as the law enforcement community licks its chops at the prospect of distracting, occupying and ultimately destroying all vestiges of resistance in this country.

Once when I spoke I said that I thought I thought my case was the canary in the mine shaft.

A test of the expansion of the Law on Material Support of Terrorism. If they can label me (and) convict me behind their smokescreen of fear and intimidation and put me behind bars for a lengthy time, then they are ready to do it to the movement, to all of us. As some General said of Vietnam, “It’s not much of a war but it’s all {they} got.” We too must ready ourselves to defend not only our clients, who will come to us victimized by this outrageous, overreaching assault, but also ourselves as attorneys. As shown in my case, they will not be readily distinguished between the two. It is the worst of times and we must ready ourselves for the onslaught.

As I said, the Law under which the FBI is operating is the prohibition of Material Aid to Terrorism, enacted during the Clinton Administration, and embraced by federal law enforcement ever since. The Secretary of State denotes certain countries and organizations as Terrorists. (There is no realistic opportunity to contest this in any court of Law.) Thereafter any kind of material aid is criminal per se. In my case it was a press release to Reuters. In the Holy Land case it was money donated to Palestinian charity. And in the Parliamentarian case, decided by the Supremes, it was counseling about methods to bring about peaceful resolution of disputes. These were the starting bell, indicating that anything, even speech, could be considered illegal and then loosing the hounds to discover (manufacture?) evidence.

Only time can tell what will be the outcome of this affront to the Constitution. Will people end up in jail or taking a principled stand, as I did, against these charges? Will there be the kind of overwhelming support for them that will convince the government that it reveals too much of their underlying desire to be rid of any criticism? Will resistance to subpoenas by not testifying fill the jails, as Maryland’s own Dan Berrigan suggested, and block the evil attempt? I, from my perspective, have seen this before –when they rounded up supporters in the 1970’s and 80’s of the Puerto Rican freedom fighters and also anyone who had any relationship with the Black Liberation Army. There was spirited resistance then inside and outside the jails and Courthouse.

Right now, we must take the same responsibility against a much stronger and more vicious government. Resist, Resist, and turn the tide that threatens Civil Liberties and the fabric of the Constitution.

For more information on Lynne Stewart's case, see