Lynne Stewart, the Patriot Act, and COINTELPRO
by Larry Pinkney (no relation to Rev. Pinkney)
Cloaked in the guise of combating terrorism and of national security and virtually in plain view, the Bill of Rights and civil liberties in this nation have been, and are continuing to be, steadily, systematically, and meticulously shredded. The consequences are dire.
No matter what the pretext, one does not protect, preserve, and strengthen hard won civil liberties by limiting and thereby gutting and destroying them. Indeed the best, most effective and genuine means of assuring real national security is by ensuring civil liberties, judicial fairness, and equitable social and economic justice inside this nation itself; and no amount of government / judiciary intimidation, spying or policing actions at home, or military actions abroad, can or will ever bring this about, nor are they really intended to, despite any fallacious rhetoric to the contrary.
The case of seventy-year-old great grandmother, cancer survivor, former school librarian, long time political activist / organizer, and former New York City defense attorney Lynne Stewart is indicative of the U.S. Government’s ongoing attempts to frighten, discredit, intimidate, and silence the people of this nation, and most particularly in this case, defense attorneys who dare to seriously exercise the constitutional right and duty to provide their clients with a vigorous and uncompromising legal defense.
Lynne Stewart, as a defense attorney, has for well over three decades, successfully defended clients who were the targets of U.S. Government subterfuge, police brutality, and prosecutorial subterfuge and discreditation. In so doing she constantly demonstrated to young lawyers what it really means to stand up and defend the people in both word and deed. The people that Lynne Stewart legally and vigorously defended ranged from members of the Black Panther Party, to the Weather Underground, to U.S. protestors demonstrating against (the then U.S. and Israeli supported) apartheid government of South Africa. Moreover, she did not hesitate to vigorously defend the human and legal rights of Muslims unjustly persecuted and targeted by U.S. Government agencies in this the 21st century. (Reference The Black Commentator of July 12, 2007.
Thus, Lynne Stewart herself became a target of the U.S. Government in the person of the then Bush / Cheney U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft. This scenario did not “change” under the present Obama / Biden / Rahm Emanuel administration or its current U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder. If anything in 2009, matters became even worse.
As a direct result of U.S. Government subterfuge, entrapment, and disinformation (with corporate media complicity) against Lynne Stewart, she was on February 10, 2005, wrongfully and shockingly convicted of a bogus “conspiracy to aid and abet terrorism” charge relating to her legal defense of one of her clients. An appeal was immediately filed, in hopes that the appeal court would recognize and respect truth and justice and reverse this gross injustice. However, the appeal court on November 17, 2009, did just the opposite and upheld this bogus, outrageous, and retaliatory conviction and sentence against the people’s lawyer - Lynne Portia Stewart. This incredibly courageous, seventy-year-old former librarian, who is presently also battling a serious medical condition that requires surgery must never be abandoned by us. She did not abandon justice-loving people and we cannot abandon her. She is a target and a victim of the Patriot Act (the 21st century COINTELPRO) and the ongoing hysteria which was whipped up under the Bush / Cheney administration and is being continued and further tweaked under the Obama / Biden administration. We must remember that Lynne Stewart spoke and speaks truth to power on behalf of the every day people and we can do no less. DO NOT LET HER STAND ALONE! DO NOT ALLOW THIS CORRUPT, HYPOCRITICAL, WAR MONGERING GOVERNMENT AND JUDICIARY TO COWER US INTO SUBMISSION! Continue to follow the developments in Lynne Stewart’s case closely, with a view towards reversing this gross injustice to her and to all of us! By supporting Lynne Stewart, we are loving and supporting the very best in ourselves.
Bear in mind that the above-described developments with respect to Lynne Stewart, are part and parcel and yet another example, of the ongoing shredding of the Bill of Rights and civil liberties in this nation. The government actions against Lynne Stewart are intended to make us tremble and cower, neither of which must we do. Too much is at stake! Real national security can only be had when the people refuse to allow the government to quash our human and political rights for therein is our national security.
When, in the name of “national security” or of allegedly combating “terrorism,” a government that cloaks its reprehensible acts of spying on its own people while simultaneously gutting their civil liberties is in reality fostering, not combating, terrorism. It’s all about stifling any substantive informed discussion and dissent. Such a government is not worthy of support. Democracy, if it is to be real, is not some commodity to be bought, sold, or manipulated by government or corporations. It is contentious and must be vigorously exercised.
The goal of the infamously notorious, unconstitutional, murderous, and amoral U.S. Government’s Counter Intelligence Program, known as COINTELPRO, which was fervently carried out internally against the peoples of the United States, was to “neutralize” political dissent by “discrediting, framing, disrupting, imprisoning, and often murdering” individual political activists, and where possible, targeting entire political organizations. These systematic outrages were of course engaged in by local, state, and federal policing authorities working together throughout this nation; all in the nebulous, shrill name of so-called “national security.” The corporate news media played a deadly, covert, and insidious role of complicity by disseminating disinformation to assist in ensuring the deadly effectiveness of COINTELPRO. As a direct result of the U.S.
Government COINTELPRO sponsored activities many people were framed, imprisoned, or murdered (including the U.S. government / police assassinations of Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark), not to mention the tens of thousands of families, lives and/or reputations were utterly shattered. The thousands of targets of COINTELPRO included (but were by no means limited to) Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Huey P. Newton, H. Rap Brown (Jamil Al-Amin), and a host of many, many other men and women political activists nationwide. Entire organizations were COINTELPRO targets including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Black Panther Party (BPP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), etc. While COINTELPRO primarily targeted nonwhites, there were to be sure, whites who the U.S. Government also sought to “neutralize” intimidate, and discredit due to their unmitigated audacity to stand up and dissent against the U.S. policies of wars abroad and social, judicial and economic injustice at home; all in the bogus name of “national security.” It should be noted that down to the present day, as a result of COINTELPRO, there are numerous political prisoners still languishing in ‘America’s’ gulag prisons. This is and should be absolutely unacceptable to all of us.
Notwithstanding the deliberately misleading rhetoric of the Obama / Biden / Rahm Emanuel administration, this nation has entered an era of de facto renewed 21st century COINTELPRO activities and McCarthyism under the insipid guise of the “Patriot Act.” This is the same Patriot Act that Barack Obama is seeking to extend, just as he has already extended and expanded the notorious activities of the U.S. Government’s international kidnapping and torture program known as “rendition.”
While the pro-apartheid Zionist Obama / Biden / Rahm Emanuel administration and its allies in the corporate media have cynically used the increasing pain and suffering of the ‘American’ people against we ourselves by turning the attention of the nation to a fake debate on “health reform” which is neither open, honest, nor representative of genuine systemic change for the hurting masses, the Obama administration pursues its wars abroad in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, and elsewhere while seeking to continue and strengthen the ill gotten gains of repression made under the previous Bush / Cheney administration by continuing the Patriot Act here at home, including among other provisions, the despicably undemocratic, patently unconstitutional, and outrageous portion within said Act known as the “lone wolf” provision. Make no mistake about it: This political repression is being, and meant to be, directed against citizens and noncitizens alike in this nation of all colors and ethnicities. It is time to put aside our petty ideological squabbles and unite against this repression.
No matter what the pretense, the PATRIOT ACT is the continuation of COINTELPRO today, which has now been codified into law. The Obama / Biden / Rahm Emanuel administration is demonstrating itself to be as hypocritical and amoral as its Bush / Cheney predecessors - -with one noteworthy exception: this present administration is, at least for the political moment, much more articulate and adept at misleading the people. It is therefore far more dangerously effective at economically, judicially, and socially emaciating the masses of people than the Bush / Cheney administration could have ever even dreamed of being.
It must be reiterated: The Patriot Act is the continuation of COINTELPRO and the corporate, self-described “news” media today continues in its shameful role of aiding and abetting - through disinformation, obfuscation, and omission - -the stripping away of real freedoms and civil liberties in this nation and around the world.
We must be aware of, but certainly not intimidated by these developments. Political repression at home is not merely on its way. It is in fact, in large measure already here, though not yet recognized by some. Both the liberals and the lunatic right wingers of the Democratic and Republican Parties (i.e. the Republicrats) are, in essence, moving this nation, at an ever increasing pace, towards deepening political repression. The so-called liberals pretend that the dangerous erosion of alleged freedoms and civil liberties is simply not happening right in front of their very eyes, while the right wingers are virtually inviting it (i.e. political repression) as a means to their ends.
Our task is to educate, agitate, and organize throughout this nation. We must be clear that the constant so-called specter of “terrorism” is, like the specter of “communism” during the McCarthy period of fear and repression, being fanned and fostered by the misguided, dishonest, hypocritical and undemocratic practices on the part of the U.S. Government and its corporate allies at home and abroad. Remember that democracy is not spread at the tip of a sword, in the muzzle of rifles, or by horrific explosions of cluster and/or so-called ‘smart’ bombs and the like. It is terrorism that is in fact fostered and spread by these things, not democracy.
We must always remember that unjust wars abroad, and political repression, subterfuge, and disinformation at home go hand and hand.
We must struggle to reverse the increasing political repression in this nation and bring about an immediate end to the unjust U.S. wars abroad. We must struggle for genuine (not fake) single payer universal health care, for full employment, decent housing, and relevant education, judicial accountability and justice, an end to the new and hideous form of racism and economic apartheid gentrification in communities throughout this nation. We must struggle for real and serious systemic change and an end to corporate capitalist de facto hegemony.
No more unjust wars! No more COINTELPRO! No more PATRIOT ACT and its concomitant political repression at home! No more lies! Let us stop allowing this administration to give political cover to repression at home and Empire abroad! Enough!
“Change we can believe in?” The only real change that we can believe in is the change that we the people demand, organize for, and bring about ourselves!
Life to the masses of people in this nation and around the world! Onward then sisters and brothers! It’s time to intensify in speaking truth to power and educate, agitate, and organize. Remember: “Don’t Mourn. ORGANIZE!”
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS NewsHour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn].