Thursday, November 26, 2009



Bay Area United Against War Newsletter
Table of Contents:




Emergency Protest: No Escalation! U.S./NATO Out Now!
Wed. Dec. 12, 5pm
Powell and Market Sts., San Francisco

An emergency protest against the escalating U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan will be held on Wednesday, December 2, 5 p.m. at Powell and Market Sts. in San Francisco. On Tues., Dec. 1, Pres. Obama is expected to announce that tens of thousands additional U.S. troops will be sent to Afghanistan in the coming months.

A call for protest actions across the country against the war and escalation following the announcement has been issued by several national organizations including: A.N.S.W.E.R Coalition, World Can't Wait, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, National Assembly, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Pledge of Resistance and Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

Join us to demand: No Escalation - Bring ALL the Troops Home Now! No to War and Occupation in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Everywhere! Money for People's Needs, Not War!

Call 415-821-6545 for more info or to volunteer.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
2489 Mission St. Rm. 24
San Francisco: 415-821-6545

Bay Area United Against War endorses this emergency action.




San Francisco, CA

Sunday, November 29th 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
870 Market St. at Powell St. (Consulate of Honduras)

Sponsored by Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition

Resistance Front reports on increased militarization

Join with organizations all across the United States to call for a Week Of Actions in solidarity with the people of Honduras. The Nov 29th election organized by the illegal coup government is going ahead as planned. All progressive candidates have withdrawn from the elections and the National Resistance Front has called for a boycott. These elections under the barrel of the gun would not be happening without the support of the US government, which has declared that they will recognize the winner as the "legitimate" representative of the people of Honduras.

Elections under the illegal coup regime are not democracy - they are a farce! We continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Honduras!

In the United States, Hondurans will be able to vote through the Honduran Consulates located in New Orleans, New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Miami and Phoenix. From Nov 23-29th, actions in solidarity with the people of Honduras will be held in these cities and more across the U.S. See below for details about some of these actions..

We encourage people to participate in these actions. During these protests, pickets and educational events we encourage people to distribute information about the military coup in Honduras - and the role of the United States. On our website we have key documents such as an article by John Perkins on the role of U.S. corporations in the coup and President Zelaya's recent letter to President Obama. It is also very important to have media events to raise awareness about the situation in Honduras today. Press conferences, press packets, radio and TV interviews, and phone calls to the media are all urgently needed!

Let us know if you are organizing an event and how we can best help you have the maximum impact.

In a communiqué sent out today by the National Resistance Front, they have denounced the increased militarization of the country ahead of the elections. At this critical point in the struggle of the people of Honduras, the National Resistance Front points out that it is more important than ever to keep the pressure on our government to not recognize the illegitimate elections planned for November 29th and denounce the acts of continued repression.


"The End of Poverty?"
Democracy Now Interview with Filmmaker Philippe Diaz

The film opens in San Francisco on December 4 at the 4-Star Theatre on Clement Street.



Drop all Charges Against the Activists in the Protests of the Police Murder of Oscar Grant!

Rally at JRs Next Court Hearing
Monday, December 7, 2009, 8:00 A.M.
Alameda County Courthouse
1225 Fallon Street
Oakland, CA

Journalist JR Valrey was arrested by Oakland Police on the night of January 7, 2009, for covering the street uprising following the police murder of Oscar Grant. JR has consistently covered police brutality and terrorism. The bogus charge he faces: felony arson!

JR Varley is a POCC (People of Color Conference) Minister of Information, host of Block Report Radio, a producer at KPFA and associate editor of the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper.


The BART cop who put a bullet in the back of the young Oscar Grant while Grant was lying face-down on a BART platform is Johannes Mehserle. With 45 police killings in Oakland in the past five years, Mehserle is the only cop to be charged with murder while on duty. But the cops are pulling out all the stops to avoid a conviction. With a starkly racist argument, Mesherle's lawyer has succeeded in getting hte trial moved out of Oakland--to Los Angeles.

Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 16222
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 763-2347


Four years ago activists around the world were mobilizing and organizing against the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams. We need to continue that fight today.

Fourth Annual Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Summit

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13TH, 3:00-6:00 P.M.
Huey P. Newton/Bobby Seale Student Lounge
12500 Campus Drive, Oakland
For directions go to
For more information: 510-235-9780



Angela Davis, author and activist.
Barbara Becnel, co-author and friend of Stanley Tookie Williams
Martina Correia, sister of Troy Davis
Release of report, "What's Really Happening on California's Death Row?"
Messages from "The Three Innocent Men"
Sneak Preview, "The Justice Chronicles," dramatic presentation of prison writings
Memorial Movie, for Oscar Grant III

Stanley Tookie Williams Legacy Network; Campaign to End the Death Penalty; Kevin Cooper Defense Committee, African American Studies Department, Merritt College



San Francisco March and Rally
on Saturday, March 20, 2010
11am, Civic Center Plaza

National March on Washington
on Saturday, March 20, 2010
Fri., March 19 Day of Action & Outreach in D.C.

People from all over the country are organizing to converge on Washington, D.C., to demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, there will be a massive National March & Rally in D.C. A day of action and outreach in Washington, D.C., will take place on Friday, March 19, preceding the Saturday march.

There will be coinciding mass marches on March 20 in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The national actions are initiated by a large number of organizations and prominent individuals. (see below)

Click here to become an endorser:

Click here to make a donation:

We will march together to say "No Colonial-type Wars and Occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine!" We will march together to say "No War Against Iran!" We will march together to say "No War for Empire Anywhere!"

Instead of war, we will demand funds so that every person can have a job, free and universal health care, decent schools, and affordable housing.

March 20 is the seventh anniversary of the criminal war of aggression launched by Bush and Cheney against Iraq. One million or more Iraqis have died. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops have lost their lives or been maimed, and continue to suffer a whole host of enduring problems from this terrible war.

This is the time for united action. The slogans on banners may differ, but all those who carry them should be marching shoulder to shoulder.

Killing and dying to avoid the perception of defeat

Bush is gone, but the war and occupation in Iraq still go on. The Pentagon is demanding a widening of the war in Afghanistan. They project an endless war with shifting battlefields. And a "single-payer" war budget that only grows larger and larger each year. We must act.

Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were predicated on the imperial fantasy that the U.S. could create stable, proxy colonial-type governments in both countries. They were to serve as an extension of "American" power in these strategic and resource-rich regions.

That fantasy has been destroyed. Now U.S. troops are being sent to kill or be killed so that the politicians in uniform ("the generals and admirals") and those in three-piece suits ("our elected officials") can avoid taking responsibility for a military setback in wars that should have never been started. Their military ambitions are now reduced to avoiding the appearance of defeat.

That is exactly what happened in Vietnam! Avoiding defeat, or the perception of defeat, was the goal Nixon and Kissinger set for themselves when they took office in 1969. For this noble cause, another 30,000 young GIs perished before the inevitable troop pullout from Vietnam in 1973. The number of Vietnamese killed between 1969 and 1973 was greater by many hundreds of thousands.

All of us can make the difference - progress and change comes from the streets and from the grassroots.

The people went to the polls in 2008, and the enthusiasm and desire for change after eight years of the Bush regime was the dominant cause that led to election of a big Democratic Party majority in both Houses of Congress and the election of Barack Obama to the White House.

But it should now be obvious to all that waiting for politicians to bring real change - on any front - is simply a prescription for passivity by progressives and an invitation to the array of corporate interests from military contractors to the banks, to big oil, to the health insurance giants that dominate the political life of the country. These corporate interests work around the clock to frustrate efforts for real change, and they are the guiding hand behind the recent street mobilizations of the ultra-right.

It is up to us to act. If people had waited for politicians to do the right thing, there would have never been a Civil Rights Act, or unions, women's rights, an end to the Vietnam war or any of the profound social achievements and basic rights that people cherish.

It is time to be back in the streets. Organizing centers are being set up in cities and towns throughout the country.

We must raise $50,000 immediately just to get started. Please make your contribution today. We need to reserve buses, which are expensive ($1,800 from NYC, $5,000 from Chicago, etc.). We have to print 100,000 leaflets, posters and stickers. There will be other substantial expenses as March 20 draws closer.

Please become an endorser and active supporter of the March 20 National March on Washington.

Please make an urgently needed tax-deductible donation today. We can't do this without your active support.

The initiators of the March 20 National March on Washington (preceded by the March 19 Day of Action and Outreach in D.C.) include: the ANSWER Coalition; Muslim American Society Freedom; National Council of Arab Americans; Cynthia McKinney; Malik Rahim, co-founder of Common Ground Collective; Ramsey Clark; Cindy Sheehan; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK; Deborah Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait; Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace; Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild; Ron Kovic, author of "Born on the 4th of July"; Juan Jose Gutierrez, Director, Latino Movement USA; Col. Ann Wright (ret.); March Forward!; Partnership for Civil Justice; Palestinian American Women Association; Alliance for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines; Alliance for Global Justice; Claudia de la Cruz, Pastor, Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas-UCC; Phil Portluck, Social Justice Ministry, Covenant Baptist Church, D.C.; Blase & Theresa Bonpane, Office of the Americas; Coalition for Peace and Democracy in Honduras; Comite Pro-Democracia en Mexico; Frente Unido de los Pueblos Americanos; Comites de Base FMLN, Los Angeles; Free Palestine Alliance; GABRIELA Network; Justice for Filipino American Veterans; KmB Pro-People Youth; Students Fight Back; Jim Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild - LA Chapter; LEF Foundation; National Coalition to Free the Angola 3; Community Futures Collective; Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival; Companeros del Barrio; Barrio Unido for Full and Unconditional Amnesty, Bay Area United Against War.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311


The US Social Forum II
• June 22-26, 2010 •
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Another World Is Possible! Another US is Necessary!





Lynne Stewart in Jail!

For further information contact: Jeff Mackler, Coordinator, West Coast Lynne Stewart Defense Committee 510-268-9429
Mail tax free contributions payable to National Lawyers Guild Foundation. Write in memo box: "Lynne Stewart Defense." Mail to: Lynne Stewart Defense, P.O. Box 10328, Oakland, CA 94610.



U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Department of Justice Main Switchboard - 202-514-2000
Office of the Attorney General Public Comment Line - 202-353-1555

To send Lynne a letter, write:
Lynne Stewart
150 Park Row
New York, NY NY 10007

Lynne Stewart speaks in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal


The trial of Johannes Mehserle, killer of unarmed Oscar Grant, has been moved to Los Angeles.

In the case of an innocent verdict, folks are encouraged to head to Oakland City Hall ASAP to express our outrage in a massive and peaceful way! Our power is in our numbers! Oscar Grant's family and friends need our support!

For more information:
Contact BAMN at 510-502-9072


URGENT! Dhoruba Bin Wahad and Naji Mujahid detained at Israeli checkpoint newsitems/2009/11/25/18630531. php

Please help us spread the word. Dhoruba bin-Wahad (a former Black Panther political prisoner) and Naji Fenwick have been prevented from entering Palestine (11-23-09). They were going to attend a political Prisoner conference. They are asking for our support by contacting the US Embassy and anyone else we can think of that can help. Below is a sample letter for sending an email to the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan



What obviously began as racial profiling, ended up as an Israeli
attempt to conceal their treatment of Palestinian Detainees from the
African-American community. As a former political prisoner, and
international activist concerned with human rights and civil
liberties, I along with Naji Mujahid, a DC based college student and
videographer, were invited to an international conference on Political
Detainees in the occupied Territories sponsored by the Palestinian
Authority. Unlike most international representatives attending the
conference, who were white and could therefore avoid pre-emptive
scrutiny for entering the occupied territory, I could not (and would
not) enter a country on disingenuous grounds. It is one thing to be
cooperative with officials while traveling, quite another to be
detained and interrogated like a common criminal about your religious
beliefs, personal associations, and family relations with no apparent
objective other than to find some excuse to ban you from entry into a
country that is under international censure for its treatment of an
entire people, the Palestinians.

When I was asked by the Political Prisoner support group Jericho to
answer the Palestinian invitation to the Conference On the Palestinian
Political Detainees in Israeli jails, I accepted. I also was asked by
"Still Here Harlem Productions" to cover the conference because the
African-American community know very little about the middle east.
This lack of knowledge is not coincidental. Many Black elected
officials in America have succumbed to the influence and financial
subsidies of the Israeli lobby, and are fearful for their political
careers should they oppose the racist practices of the Israeli
government toward peoples of color in general and the Palestinian
people in particular. African-Americans have no advocates on capital
hill who will demand their fair treatment while traveling abroad,
except where the governments in question are critical of U.S. foreign
policies. For these reason I undertook the task of reporting the
Conference on Palestinian Detainees.



To Ambassador Robert Beecroft, et al.:

Yesterday, 11-23-09, two American citizens, Dhoruba Bin Wahad and William Fenwick were denied entry into Israel at the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge. After being singled out of a crowd of people that arrived via bus to cross the border, they were kept there for approximately 11hrs (most of those hours they were held incommunicado) and subjected to several searches of their persons and luggage (including strip searches) and questioned extensively; many of the questions were completely irrelevant to legitimate security concerns. Finally, they were told they were being refused entry for "security reasons". Before leaving, they were photographed and fingerprinted and their passports were stamped three times (once stamp that oddly granted them access and two stamps that denied access).

The nature of their business in Jericho, was upon invitation by the Palestinian Authority to attend/participate/document a conference on Palestinian Political Prisoners and Detainees in Israel. The official title of the conference is "The International Conference on Prisoners and Detainees in Israeli Prisons" and it features a keynote address by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. It should be noted that EVERY conference attendee that arrived for the conference through Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv were allowed access into the Territory. This is a blatant disregard for the right of tax-paying American citizens to travel (ironically, millions of those tax dollars go to subsidize the Israeli security apparatus) and International Law that supports freedom of movement and travel. Moreover, it is and a denial of their 1st Amendment rights; Israel is supposed to be a US ally.

Finally, considering the nature of how this encounter between Fenwick and Bin Wahad and the Israeli security began, it looks strikingly familiar to what the United States would consider to be racial profiling. The US consulate has a duty to secure for its citizens the same rights guaranteed at home while abroad and to protect them from arbitrary harassment and discrimination from foreign governments. Therefore, we urge you to express emphatic dismay and disappointment that the only, purportedly, "democratic nation" in the Middle East curtails the free flow of information and ideas, particularly regarding the treatment of the Palestinian people.

Respectfully yours,

John Q. Citizen


The Story of Mouseland: As told by Tommy Douglas in 1944

The Communist Manifesto illustrated by Cartoons


Support mom still facing Afghanistan deployment, court martial

By Jeff Paterson, Courage to Resist. November 16, 2009

"I currently don't have a family care plan, but they told me they did not
care and for me to get ready to go to Afghanistan," explained Oakland,
California native Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old soldier based at
Hunter Army Airfield outside of Savannah, Georgia.

As I spoke to Alexis on the phone, I believed if I found her a civilian
lawyer to work with the military, a reasonable resolution would be quickly
found. Unlike most service members Courage to Resist assists, Alexis was not
refusing to deploy. She was not looking to speak out against war. She was
simply asking for more time to find someone to care for her 11-month old son
Kamani. Within a few days, however, the Army had tossed Alexis in the
stockade and turned Kamani over to the Chatham County (Georgia) foster care


Please make a tax-deductible donation to Alexis' legal and family support


Courage to Resist Urgent Action Alert

Army sends infant to protective services, mom to Afghanistan this weekend

Army has mom, Alexis Hutchinson, arrested and 11-month old son put into county foster care system. Alexis has now been ordered to deploy to Afghanistan on Sunday, November 15, where she will be court martialed.

Action Alert: Contact Congresswoman Barbara Lee to urge her to "Request that the Army not deploy Alexis Hutchinson to Afghanistan so that she can care for her son." From the 9th District (Oakland-Berkeley, CA) phone: 510-763-0370 (fax: 510-763-6538). Nationwide: 202- 225-2661 (fax: 202-225-9817).

Donate to Alexis' legal and family support fund (

Alexis' attorney now available for media interviews.
By friends of Alexis and Courage to Resist. November 12, 2009

Also in the news:
Army Sends Infant to Protective Services, Mom to Afghanistan
by Dahr Jamail, Inter Press Service. November 13, 2009
Online version with possible updates


Statement from the NY October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality

Soon after 6:00am on October 27th, five cops raided the house of Juanita Young, the mother of Malcolm Ferguson who was gunned down by a plainclothes cop in 2000. They threatened to break down her door, tried to climb in through her bathroom window, put a gun in Juanita's face and took away her son, Buddy. The cops justified their outrageous and illegal behavior by citing a warrant, refusing to identify who or what the warrant was for. Later it was claimed that the warrant was for Buddy failing to appear in court for a Desk Appearance Ticket on October 13th, just two weeks earlier. This made it clear that it was both an unusually quick response and out of the ordinary violence for this offense.

This is not the first time cops have run roughshod over the rights of Juanita and her family. Juanita Young has been an outspoken opponent of police brutality, fighting for justice not only for her son Malcolm, but for all victims of police brutality. This has made her a target of persistent persecution by the police:

--June 2003: During an illegal eviction carried out by the NYPD, Juanita was arrested for trespassing in her own home. She was handcuffed and aggressively pushed out of her apartment and building, falling twice and injuring her arm. In October 2007, a Bronx civil jury determined that the arresting officer used excessive force in her arrest.

--November 2005: After voicing her disapproval of a brutal arrest at a demonstration, Juanita was arrested after a commanding officer said, "Get her, too." She was refused medical attention that she needed due to an asthma attack. Young was hospitalized for three days and faced criminal charges, but before the date of her arraignment, she received notice in the mail that the charges were dropped.

--November 2006: Juanita was arrested after more than 8 cops entered her apartment during an ambulance call for her daughter. The cops jumped her, punched and kicked her. She was taken to the hospital, where she was handcuffed to the bed and tortured by police for four days, only to be handed a ticket on the last day an hour after a press conference about her attack took place. In October 2008, a Bronx jury acquitted Young of all charges.

--August 2009: During a cookout in front of Juanita's building, over a dozen cops broke down the front door, slammed her oldest son up behind the door, and beat him on the head. The cops also arrested her daughters. This was another attempt to intimidate Juanita Young - through striking out at her loved ones - in hopes of silencing this powerful voice against police brutality.

All these attacks are outrageous, illegitimate and illegal. We say: HANDS OFF JUANITA YOUNG! The NYPD must stop this intimidation and harassment of Juanita and her family. Speaking out against police brutality is no crime. But targeting someone in retaliation for speaking out is illegal.

From Juanita Young's statement to supporters:

"Not only have my rights been violated in the most blatant ways, but I feel physically and psychologically terrorized. I fear for my safety, my very life, and the lives of my children and grandchildren." (October 29, 2009)

We refuse to allow Juanita Young, this fighter against police brutality and injustice, to stand alone against this onslaught.

We demand:

1: The NYPD stop its persecution of Juanita Young!

2: Bronx DA Robert Johnson investigate the role of the 43rd Precinct in this persecution.

3: An investigation of the Warrant Squad and how they were charged, and how they went about, in serving the warrant at Juanita Young's house on October 27th.

Sign Petition Here:


VIDEO INTERVIEW: Dan Berger on Political Prisoners in the United States
By Angola 3 News
Angola 3 News
37 years ago in Louisiana, 3 young black men were silenced for trying to expose continued segregation, systematic corruption, and horrific abuse in the biggest prison in the US, an 18,000-acre former slave plantation called Angola. In 1972 and 1973 prison officials charged Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and Robert King with murders they did not commit and threw them into 6x9 ft. cells in solitary confinement, for over 36 years. Robert was freed in 2001, but Herman and Albert remain behind bars.

Taking Aim Radio Program with
Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone
The Chimera of Capitalist Recovery, Parts 1 and 2



The San Francisco Board of Education has re-installed the Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps in San Francisco schools -- including allowing it to count for Physical Education credits.

This is a complete reversal of the 2006 decision to end JROTC altogether in San Francisco public schools. Our children need a good physical education program, not a death education program!

With the economy in crisis; jobs and higher education for youth more unattainable; the lure, lies and false promises of military recruiters is driving more and more of our children into the military trap.

This is an economic draft and the San Francisco Board of Education is helping to snare our children to provide cannon fodder for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and for over 700 U.S. military bases around the world!

We can't depend upon "friendly politicians" who, while they are campaigning for office claim they are against the wars but when they get elected vote in favor of military recruitment--the economic draft--in our schools. We can't depend upon them. That has been proven beyond doubt!

It is up to all of us to come together to stop this NOW!


Write, call, pester and ORGANIZE against the re-institution of JROTC in our San Francisco public schools NOW!

In solidarity,

Bonnie Weinstein
Bay Area United Against War Newsletter

San Francisco Board of Education
555 Franklin Street, 1st Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102
415/241-6427, (415) 241-6493



For a donation of only $18.95, we can put a copy of the book "10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military" into a public or high school library of your choice. [Reason number 1: You may be killed]

A letter and bookplate will let readers know that your donation helped make this possible.

Putting a book in either a public or school library ensures that students, parents, and members of the community will have this valuable information when they need it.

Don't have a library you would like us to put it in? We'll find one for you!


This is a must-see video about the life of Oscar Grant, a young man who loved his family and was loved by his family. It's important to watch to understand the tremendous loss felt by his whole family as a result of his cold-blooded murder by BART police officers--Johannes Mehserle being the shooter while the others held Oscar down and handcuffed him to aid Mehserle in the murder of Oscar Grant January 1, 2009.

The family wants to share this video here with you who support justice for Oscar Grant.



Urgent: Ahmad Sa'adat transferred to isolation in Ramon prison!

Imprisoned Palestinian national leader Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was transferred on August 11, 2009 to Ramon prison in the Naqab desert from Asqelan prison, where he had been held for a number of months. He remains in isolation; prior to his transfer from Asqelan, he had been held since August 1 in a tiny isolation cell of 140 cm x 240 cm after being penalized for communicating with another prisoner in the isolation unit.

Attorney Buthaina Duqmaq, president of the Mandela Association for prisoners' and detainees' rights, reported that this transfer is yet another continuation of the policy of repression and isolation directed at Sa'adat by the Israeli prison administration, aimed at undermining his steadfastness and weakening his health and his leadership in the prisoners' movement. Sa'adat has been moved repeatedly from prison to prison and subject to fines, harsh conditions, isolation and solitary confinement, and medical neglect. Further reports have indicated that he is being denied attorney visits upon his transfer to Ramon.

Ahmad Sa'adat undertook a nine-day hunger strike in June in order to protest the increasing use of isolation against Palestinian prisoners and the denial of prisoners' rights, won through long and hard struggle. The isolation unit at Ramon prison is reported to be one of the worst isolation units in terms of conditions and repeated violations of prisoners' rights in the Israeli prison system.

Sa'adat is serving a 30 year sentence in Israeli military prisons. He was sentenced on December 25, 2008 after a long and illegitimate military trial on political charges, which he boycotted. He was kidnapped by force in a military siege on the Palestinian Authority prison in Jericho, where he had been held since 2002 under U.S., British and PA guard.

Sa'adat is suffering from back injuries that require medical assistance and treatment. Instead of receiving the medical care he needs, the Israeli prison officials are refusing him access to specialists and engaging in medical neglect and maltreatment.

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat demands an end to this isolation and calls upon all to protest at local Israeli embassies and consulates (the list is available at: About+the+Ministry/Diplomatic+mission/Web+Sites+of+Israeli+ Missions+Abroad.htm) and to write to the International Committee of the Red Cross and other human rights organizations to exercise their responsibilities and act swiftly to demand that the Israelis ensure that Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners receive needed medical care and that this punitive isolation be ended. Email the ICRC, whose humanitarian mission includes monitoring the conditions of prisoners, at, and inform them about the urgent situation of Ahmad Sa'adat!

Ahmad Sa'adat has been repeatedly moved in an attempt to punish him for his steadfastness and leadership and to undermine his leadership in the prisoners' movement. Of course, these tactics have done nothing of the sort. The Palestinian prisoners are daily on the front lines, confronting Israeli oppression and crimes. Today, it is urgent that we stand with Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian prisoners against these abuses, and for freedom for all Palestinian prisoners and for all of Palestine!

The Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat


Troy Anthony Davis is an African American man who has spent the last 18 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. There is no physical evidence tying him to the crime and seven out of nine witnesses have recanted. New evidence and new testimony have been presented to the Georgia courts, but the justice system refuses to consider this evidence, which would prove Troy Davis' innocence once and for all.

Sign the petition and join the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and other partners in demanding justice for Troy Davis!

For Now, High Court Punts on Troy Davis, on Death Row for 18 Years
By Ashby Jones
Wall Street Journal Law Blog
June 30, 2009

Take action now:


Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 2012
New York, NY 10159-2012

New videos from April 24 Oakland Mumia event

Donations for Mumia's Legal Defense in the U.S. Our legal effort is the front line of the battle for Mumia's freedom and life. His legal defense needs help. The costs are substantial for our litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and at the state level. To help, please make your checks payable to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation (indicate "Mumia" on the bottom left). All donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Code, section 501(c)(3), and should be mailed to:

It is outrageous and a violation of human rights that Mumia remains in prison and on death row. His life hangs in the balance. My career has been marked by successfully representing people facing death in murder cases. I will not rest until we win Mumia's case. Justice requires no less.

With best wishes,

Robert R. Bryan
Lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal


Short Video About Al-Awda's Work
The following link is to a short video which provides an overview of Al-Awda's work since the founding of our organization in 2000. This video was first shown on Saturday May 23, 2009 at the fundraising banquet of the 7th Annual Int'l Al-Awda Convention in Anaheim California. It was produced from footage collected over the past nine years.
Support Al-Awda, a Great Organization and Cause!

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, depends on your financial support to carry out its work.

To submit your tax-deductible donation to support our work, go to and follow the simple instructions.

Thank you for your generosity!


FLASHPOINTS Interview with Innocent San Quentin Death Row Inmate
Kevin Cooper -- Aired Monday, May 18,2009
To learn more about Kevin Cooper go to:
San Francisco Chronicle article on the recent ruling:
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling and dissent:


Support the troops who refuse to fight!




1) Families of Military Suicides Seek White House Condolences
November 26, 2009

2) Citation for Gesture Costs Pittsburgh
November 25, 2009

3) Ohio: Doctor's Help Was Sought During Failed Execution Attempt
National Briefing | Midwest
November 25, 2009

4) Law Protecting Workers From Retaliation Takes Effect
November 25, 2009, 12:03 pm

5) From Footnote to Fame in Civil Rights History
November 26, 2009

6) German General Resigns Over Afghan Airstrike
November 27, 2009

7) Lynne Stewart Update
by Pat Levasseur
23 November 2009

8) Lynne Stewart: An American Story
Directed by Francis van den Heuvel
[movie trailer at this]
November 24, 2009

9) Lynne Stewart: Casualty of the "War on Terror"
by Marjorie Cohn
November 25, 2009


1) Families of Military Suicides Seek White House Condolences
November 26, 2009

Since at least the time of Abraham Lincoln, presidents have sent letters of condolence to the families of service members killed in action, whether the deaths came by hostile fire or in an accident.

So after Gregg Keesling's son killed himself in Iraq in June, he expected his family would receive a letter from President Obama. What they got instead was a call from an Army official telling them that they were not eligible because their son had committed suicide.

"We were shocked," said Mr. Keesling, 52, of Indianapolis.

Under an unwritten policy that has existed at least since the Clinton administration, presidents have not sent letters to survivors of troops who took their own lives, even if it was at the war front, officials say. The roots of that policy, which has been passed from administration to administration via White House protocol officers, are murky and probably based in the view that suicide is not an honorable way to die, administration and military officials say.

But at a time when the Pentagon is trying to destigmatize mental health care in hopes of stemming a near epidemic of suicide among service members, the question of whether the survivors of military suicides deserve presidential recognition has taken on new significance.

"These families already feel such shame and so alienated from the military and the country, a letter from the president might give them some comfort, some sense that people recognize their sacrifice," said Kim Ruocco, director for suicide support for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, a military support group. "What better way to eliminate stigma?"

As suicide has crept out of the shadows and become a front-burner problem for the military, TAPS, members of Congress and individuals like Mr. Keesling have begun raising the thorny issue of equal honors for survivors of military suicides. Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, said the administration had begun a review of the policy on letters of condolence.

"The president's thoughts and prayers are with every military family who has lost a loved one in service to our country," Mr. Vietor said.

Presidential letters of condolence go to troops who died in action in a war theater. Though most suicides take place on posts in the United States, a significant number occur in Iraq and Afghanistan: more than 184 since 2001, statistics reviewed by The New York Times show.

Through October, the Army, which far and away leads the armed forces in suicides, reported 133 among active-duty soldiers, putting it on pace to surpass last year's record, 140. The United States Marine Corps, which has the second largest number, is also likely to have more suicides than last year, 42.

The spike in suicides has prompted an array of actions at the Pentagon. The Army is collaborating with the National Institute of Mental Health to study mental health and suicide. It has created a suicide prevention task force led by a brigadier general. It has instituted suicide prevention programs at most posts and is requiring many noncommissioned officers to take "resiliency" training to help soldiers cope with the stress of war and deployment.

But as much as anything, the Army is trying to soften the longstanding sense that psychological problems are a sign of frailty. "We have to reduce the stigma surrounding seeking mental health help," Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff, said earlier this year. "Getting help for emotional problems should be as natural as seeking help for a sprained ankle."

President Obama has also spoken forcefully about the pain of suicide in the military. During the 2008 campaign, he said: "We know that incidence of psychological injury increase with each additional tour of duty in Iraq, and that our troops are not getting the support they need. Too many are falling through the cracks because they need help but feel they can't get it."

Advocates for suicide survivors say the military has come a long way in equalizing the way it deals with suicides. Death benefits are now largely the same for families, regardless of how a service member died. And suicides are eligible for an array of military honors, like burial in a national cemetery or color guards at funerals.

But a suspicion remains among survivors that there are differences. Ms. Ruocco, whose husband, a Marine, killed himself after returning from Iraq several years ago, said several members of TAPS have said they did not receive the folded flags from the military after family members committed suicide. She said it was possible they were not eligible, but the Pentagon has not been able to clarify its rules for suicide cases.

She also said the gold stars that parents of military suicides received were slightly different from the gold stars given to parents of troops killed in action. It is a small difference, she said, but one that further separates suicide survivors from other military families. The stress of war and deployment is often a cause of suicide, she argued, making it no different than a fatal wound from a roadside bomb.

But opponents of presidential letters of condolence argue that treating suicide the same as other war deaths might encourage mentally frail soldiers to take their lives by making the act seem honorable.

After Gregg Keesling's son, Chancellor, shot himself in a latrine on June 19, the family received a folded flag, a letter from the Army praising their son, a 21-gun salute at his burial and financial death benefits.

But he views the letter of condolence as an important step toward reducing the shame and guilt many survivors feel. Hours before his son, a 25-year-old specialist, killed himself, his son had argued with his girlfriend over the phone and then sent a rambling, despondent e-mail message home.

"I can't explain how ashamed i am i said some things out of anger," he wrote. "I can't cope without each and every one of you there by me the whole way. I feel alone and unappreciated for some odd reason this deployment is ending up to be like the last i thought about killing myself and went to the porti john and chambered a round into my m4 but decided not to pull the trigger. I realize i need help and i need to have family put first. Please forgive me and except my apology."

About 17 hours later, he was dead.

"My last words to my son were, 'Be a man and get through it,' " Mr. Keesling said. "I was the stupid dad. If my son had said, 'Dad I've broken my leg, I can't go on,' I would have understood. But I didn't understand the mental health side."

Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting.


2) Citation for Gesture Costs Pittsburgh
November 25, 2009

PITTSBURGH - The City of Pittsburgh has agreed to pay $50,000 to a man who sued after being issued a disorderly conduct citation for gesturing offensively at a police officer.

The settlement, in which the city also agreed to retrain its officers in the limits of disorderly conduct law, was reached with Dave Hackbart, 35, after research undertaken by his lawyers found that police citations for swearing or offensive gestures were common here.

From March 2005 to July 2009, the research found, Pittsburgh officers cited 198 people for disorderly conduct on the basis of that sort of behavior, even though the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has consistently found such citations unlawful on free speech grounds.

"Hopefully we'll send a message to other police officers across the state, where this is a consistent problem, that this is not legal," said Sara J. Rose, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which helped represent Mr. Hackbart in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.

Pittsburgh's deputy police chief, Paul J. Donaldson, said the city had retrained officers in the law twice since 2006 but would do so again, to emphasize that "the disorderly conduct statute can't be used to protect the police from all verbal indignities."

Mr. Hackbart was charged on April 10, 2006, while trying to parallel-park. According to his lawsuit, another car pulled up and blocked him from parking, frustrating Mr. Hackbart, who gestured with his middle finger at the other driver.

When a third driver objected to the gesture, Mr. Hackbart delivered it to him as well. That driver turned out to be an officer, Sgt. Brian Elledge, who wrote the citation. Mr. Hackbart was found guilty by a magistrate and fined court costs.

"I felt really let down by the system," Mr. Hackbart said. "I challenged it as a matter or principle."

Of the $50,000 settlement, he will get $10,000; the rest goes to his lawyers.

Mr. Hackbart said that the case had raised his interest in law and that he had he quit a job as a waiter and gone back to school to become a paralegal. He is considering going on to law school.

"A lot of good things have come out of this," he said. "Hopefully it's a big deterrent and it helps other people down the road who are in my shoes."


3) Ohio: Doctor's Help Was Sought During Failed Execution Attempt
National Briefing | Midwest
November 25, 2009

As an execution team tried to find a vein during an effort at lethal injection, prison staff members sought help from a doctor - a move generally discouraged by ethical and professional medical rules - a deposition filed in Federal District Court shows. The doctor, Carmelita Bautista, said in the deposition that she had never before been involved in an execution. "No, because I am a doctor," she tells a lawyer questioning her. "We are supposed to help people who are sick." Dr. Bautista said she tried to insert an IV catheter into the foot of the inmate, Romell Broom, during the execution attempt on Sept. 15. Gov. Ted Strickland postponed it after several hours because a usable vein could not be found. The American Medical Association bars members from participating in executions, including anything that would "contribute to the ability of another individual to directly cause the death of the condemned."


4) Law Protecting Workers From Retaliation Takes Effect
November 25, 2009, 12:03 pm

A law that increases penalties for companies that retaliate against employees who complain about labor-law violations takes effect this week, at a time when the state has stepped up enforcement of minimum-wage standards and other labor standards.

The law increases the minimum civil penalty for retaliation to $2,000 from $200 and the maximum penalty to $10,000 from $1,000. The new law also allows the state labor commissioner to award lost compensation to workers who have been victims of employer retaliation.

"Every worker in New York is afforded basic protections under state labor law -- minimum wage, meal breaks and the right to be paid in a timely manner," Gov. David A. Paterson, who signed the law on Aug. 26, said in a statement. "Oftentimes, when workers are not afforded those rights, many are too apprehensive to come forward due to fear of retaliation by their employers. This law will persuade more workers to come forward, while at the same time ensuring that lawbreaking employers who do retaliate against workers will face stiff penalties."

Retaliatory acts include firings, demotions, salary reductions and reassignments to less-desirable work shifts or work duties.

In January, the State Department of Labor said it had recovered $24.6 million in lost wages for more than 17,000 workers - the largest amount of collected and distributed monies in the department's 100-year history.

But since 2007, there have been a number of troubling cases of employer retaliations, the Labor Department said, citing several examples: three Long Island restaurant workers dismissed for complaining about subminimum wages, a backstretch worker from the Saratoga race course denied a job he had been promised because of his role in a state investigation into the racing industry and a supermarket bagger fired after reporting that he had only been paid tips, not wages.

The Labor Department encouraged anyone with complaints of labor-law violations to call 1-888-52-LABOR.


5) From Footnote to Fame in Civil Rights History
November 26, 2009

On that supercharged day in 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Ala., she rode her way into history books, credited with helping to ignite the civil rights movement.

But there was another woman, named Claudette Colvin, who refused to be treated like a substandard citizen on one of those Montgomery buses - and she did it nine months before Mrs. Parks. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his political debut fighting her arrest. Moreover, she was the star witness in the legal case that eventually forced bus desegregation.

Yet instead of being celebrated, Ms. Colvin has lived unheralded in the Bronx for decades, initially cast off by black leaders who feared she was not the right face for their battle, according to a new book that has plucked her from obscurity.

Last week Phillip Hoose won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for "Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice," published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The honor sent the little-selling title shooting up 500 spots on's sales list and immediately thrust Ms. Colvin, 70, back into the cultural conversation.

"Young people think Rosa Parks just sat down on a bus and ended segregation, but that wasn't the case at all," Ms. Colvin said in an animated interview at a diner near her apartment in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. "Maybe by telling my story - something I was afraid to do for a long time - kids will have a better understanding about what the civil rights movement was about."

Ms. Colvin made her stand on March 2, 1955, and Mrs. Parks made hers on Dec. 1 that same year. Somehow, as Mrs. Parks became one of Time Magazine's 100 most important people of the 20th century, and streets and schools were named after her, Ms. Colvin managed to let go of any bitterness. After Ms. Colvin was arrested, Mrs. Parks, a seasoned N.A.A.C.P. official, sometimes let her spend the night at her apartment. Ms. Colvin remembers her as a reserved but kindly woman who fixed her snacks of peanut butter on Ritz crackers.

"My mother told me to be quiet about what I did," Ms. Colvin recalled. "She told me: 'Let Rosa be the one. White people aren't going to bother Rosa - her skin is lighter than yours and they like her.' "

Ms. Colvin said she came to terms with her "raw feelings" a long time ago. "I know in my heart that she was the right person," she said of Mrs. Parks.

Unlike Mrs. Parks, whose protest was carefully planned, Ms. Colvin was just a 15-year-old who couldn't stomach the Jim Crow segregation laws one second longer.

Ms. Colvin was riding the bus home from school when the driver demanded that she give up her seat for a middle-age white woman, even though three other seats in the row were empty, one beside Ms. Colvin and two across the aisle.

"If she sat down in the same row as me, it meant I was as good as her," Ms. Colvin said.

Two police officers, one of them kicking her, dragged her backward off the bus and handcuffed her, according to the book. On the way to the police station, they took turns trying to guess her bra size.

At the time, the arrest was big news. Black leaders, among them Dr. King, jumped at the opportunity to use her case to fight segregation laws in court. "Negro Girl Found Guilty of Segregation Violation" was the headline in The Alabama Journal. The article said that Ms. Colvin, "a bespectacled, studious looking high school student," accepted the ruling "with the same cool aloofness she had maintained" during the hearing.

As chronicled by Mr. Hoose, more than 100 letters of support arrived for Ms. Colvin - sent in care of Mrs. Rosa Parks, secretary of the Montgomery branch of the N.A.A.C.P.

But Ms. Colvin was ultimately passed over.

"They worried they couldn't win with her," Mr. Hoose said in an interview from his home in Portland, Me. "Words like 'mouthy,' 'emotional' and 'feisty' were used to describe her."

Mrs. Parks, on the other hand, was considered "stolid, calm, unflappable," he said. The final straw: Ms. Colvin became pregnant by a married man.

A second Montgomery teenager, Mary Louise Smith, was also arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat - after Ms. Colvin's arrest but before Ms. Parks's - and she was also deemed an unsuitable symbol for the movement partly because of rumors that her father had an alcohol problem.

Although Ms. Colvin quickly left Montgomery, she returned during the peak of the bus boycott that Mrs. Parks had subsequently sparked, and testified in federal court in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that effectively ended bus segregation.

"It's an important reminder that crucial change is often ignited by very plain, unremarkable people who then disappear," said David J. Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Dr. King.

Even Mrs. Parks was forgotten for the better part of 20 years, only re-emerging as a world-famous figure in the early 1970s after magazine articles and attention in several children's books.

Ms. Colvin, who relies on a cane to steady herself, retired in 2004 after 35 years as a nurse's aide at a Manhattan nursing home. She contributed to her own obscurity: after settling in New York, she never talked about how her arrest helped prompt the famous bus boycott.

"She continued to heed her mother's advice, and worried that drawing attention to herself would result in the loss of her job. "I wasn't going to take that chance," she said.

So she settled into living an average life. She never married. The son she had in Montgomery died at age 37; a second son is an accountant in Atlanta. She watches television - "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is a favorite - and is a regular at the diner.

Ms. Colvin said she reads two newspapers every day to keep up on current events, chatting about recent Nobel Prize winners. She likes Chris Rock and Alicia Keys. Aretha Franklin could stand to lose a few pounds, but she wore a good hat to President Obama's inauguration. Don't get Ms. Colvin started on Sarah Palin.

She has fond memories of Dr. King. "He was just an average-looking fellow - it's not like he was Kobe Bryant or anything," she said, fluttering her eyelashes. "But when he opened his mouth he was like Charlton Heston playing Moses."

Mr. Hoose said he stumbled across Ms. Colvin's story while researching a previous book, "We Were There, Too! Young People in U.S. History." Several sources told him to investigate what had almost become an urban myth: that a teenager had beaten Mrs. Parks to the punch in Montgomery.

He eventually tracked down Ms. Colvin, who has an unlisted telephone number. She refused to talk to Mr. Hoose for almost four years.

Mr. Hoose won over his reluctant subject over a long lunch at the diner. It was clear, he said, that she yearned to have her story told despite protests to the contrary. "It was easy to find the rebel girl inside of her," he said.

One of her first questions: "Can you get it into schools?"


6) German General Resigns Over Afghan Airstrike
November 27, 2009

HAMBURG, Germany - The head of the German armed forces resigned Thursday over accusations that the military withheld information on a deadly airstrike in Afghanistan in September that killed civilians as well as insurgents.

Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told Parliament that General Wolfgang Schneiderhan, the chief of staff, as well as a senior official in the Defense Ministry, State Secretary Peter Wichert, had tendered their resignations after German news reports that information on civilian casualties had been withheld from the public and from prosecutors.

Their departures set off political tremors in Berlin and within the German military, with the opposition Social Democrats calling for an official, parliamentary inquiry because information about civilian casualties had been "systematically withheld." Other opposition groups - leftists and Greens - demanded the resignation of Franz Josef Jung, the labor minister in Chancellor Angela Merkel's government who was the defense minister at the time of the attacks.

On Sept. 4, a German officer serving with his country's contingent in the NATO force in Afghanistan called in an airstrike against two tanker trucks hijacked by Taliban insurgents in the northern Kunduz region. In the aftermath of the attack, Mr. Jung repeatedly claimed that only insurgents had been killed in the attack.

But, citing an internal report, the daily newspaper Bild said Thursday that officials in the Defense Ministry were aware from the very beginning of the likelihood of civilian casualties. The newspaper said that, in 42 appendices, the report gave details of when messages about possible civilian deaths were sent from German commanders in Afghanistan to the Defense Ministry in Germany.

Within hours of the airstrike, the report said, German military personnel in Afghanistan gave "clear indications" about civilian casualties, based on reports from a hospital in Kunduz where wounded civilians were being treated.

Gen. Schneiderhan and Mr. Wichert "assumed responsibility" for the breakdown in communications, Defense Minister Guttenberg said. But it was not clear what, if any, their specific role had been.

Bild also posted aerial video of the attack on its Web site, which showed people in the form of tiny black dots swarming around the tankers before the explosion. Dozens of civilians are believed to have died in the attack, which killed as many as 142 people.

Mr. Guttenberg, who took over as defense minister last month after elections in September, said that he had learned of the report cited in news reports only on Wednesday.

"This report, as well as other reports and messages dating back to the last election period, were not submitted," Mr. Guttenberg said Thursday. "The decision-making bodies took the responsibility for this and personal consequences followed."

The report and the resignations come at a difficult moment for the government, with Parliament debating the extension of the official mandate for German troops to fight in Afghanistan and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visiting Berlin to meet with Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Guttenberg.

At the same time, the United States is trying to persuade its NATO allies to send 10,000 additional troops to Afghanistan as part of President Obama's strategy for the region, despite the growing unpopularity of the eight-year-old war among the European public. Germany has roughly 4,300 soldiers in Afghanistan, the third largest in the NATO force after the United States with some 68,000 military personnel members in the country, and Britain, with 9,000.

Last week, the government approved a one-year extension of Germany's deployment in Afghanistan without increasing the number of soldiers there.

The cabinet decision must be confirmed by Parliament in December, when the current mandate expires.

Speaking in Berlin on Thursday, Mr. Rasmussen, the NATO chief, urged the alliance to commit itself more strongly to helping Afghan forces take over responsibility for their country's security. "The more we do now, the quicker we will reach that point," he said.

Referring to the fight to forestall a resurgence of international terrorist bases in Afghanistan, he said, " We must all pay a price for our security."

"If we were to run away, the price would be much higher," he said, according to German news reports.


7) Lynne Stewart Update
by Pat Levasseur
23 November 2009

Hello All,

It's taken me a minute to report on Lynne because I have waited to talk to attorneys after they have visited with her firsthand to discuss Lynne's situation, needs, and other matters.

Lynne Stewart
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Above is Lynne's mailing address. All mail (except legal mail) is subject to opening and reading by the institution. Legal mail must be opened in front of the inmate. Lynne will greatly appreciate getting beautiful cards and thoughtful letters. Please remember to write to her now and as time goes along.

Our main focus at this time is the next court date. Lynne has a 28-month sentence. If you have read the 2nd Circuit decision (and you can by going to the web site for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, look under decisions and you will find USA v. Stewart), you will find that the sentence that Lynne has received is threatened, meaning it could go higher. Our goal is to show the steadfast support that Lynne has from the community, Lynne Stewart's good deeds throughout her life, and the fact that she had been out since her arrest in 2002 with no incidents, her age, her health -- all demand NO MORE TIME than she already has. Of course, we don't think that she should be doing any jail time at all, but we must be realistic and fight for attainable goals.


Lynne's attorneys will continue to fight her case all the way to the Supreme Court. That is our long-term battle. Our short-term battle is to fill that courtroom on each and every occasion there is court, to let the Justice Department know that there are many concerned people and that Lynne is precious to us. We can protect her, when the eyes of many are on her and her situation.

We do not know how long Lynne will remain in MCC/NY. She has court appearances ahead and a resentencing, this could be a long time. She is required to make a visiting list, and there is a form to fill out; people will need to be approved and the list is not endless, so all may not have access to her. Attorneys of record can visit her, meaning those attorneys working on her legal case. But attorneys who cannot visit her can play an important role as attorneys, in standing by Lynne Stewart and thinking of ways unique to their profession to show the support Lynne dearly needs.

Lynne loves to read and it is important to note that all books and publications must come from the publisher and mailed directly to Lynne. I will be asking Lynne for a list of reading requests and if folks want to send her a book, let's coordinate our efforts so that she doesn't get more than 1 copy of the same book, etc. Lynne will need commissary money. You can visit the website for the United States Bureau of Prisons (just type that into your search engine); under "inmate matters," you will see the option telling you how to send money to an inmate. You can do it through Western Union, using their website, or at a store, send what you can. If you would like to let me know by email that you are sending her this or that, so that we can coordinate things, I would be happy to help.

Lastly, tonight, I want you all to know that your support over the years means the world to Lynne. I miss not talking to her every day, sometimes many times a day. It is important to me that we keep Lynne in the present with us every day and that strategies and decisions are run by her first to the extent possible. All who want to continue to send out the word about Lynne to their own contingency should continue of course.

Stay tuned for future updates and developments.

Pat Levasseur
Email Pat Levasseur for more information at .


8) Lynne Stewart: An American Story
Directed by Francis van den Heuvel
[movie trailer at this]
November 24, 2009

Just what good is freedom if no one is free,
And folks go to jail if they dare disagree?
And lawyers get punished for doing their jobs?
And folks are afraid of the White House lynch mob?
Lynne Stewart was doing what she had to do
Protecting her client and civil rights, too.
She said an attorney must fight to defend --
"I'd like to think that I would do it again."
-- Vicki Ryder

"I have done nothing wrong. Everything I have done, I have done as a lawyer." -- Lynne Stewart

"The story of Lynne Stewart is the story of post-9/11 America. It's a story of the federal government instilling fear, not only in Lynne Stewart but in freedom-loving people in the United States and lawyers, people who represent controversial clients." -- Amy Goodman, DemocracyNow!

"The actions she engaged in, she engaged in in 2000, and while I'm not going to name names or incriminate myself, it was not uncommon, at that time, that you would violate basically jail rules. . . . When Sheikh Omar came to the United States, he was known to the government as a 'freedom fighter.' He was part of an Islamic fundamentalist movement that prior administrations had embraced in their struggle against the Soviet Union." -- Ronald L. Kuby, Lawyer, New York

"The media likes a sexy story. The media likes violence and conflict. There were no commies out there any more. We now had Muslims. They wanted conflict stories of 'America Besieged,' so they picked it up and they ran with it." -- Lynne Stewart

"Today we are able to tell Lynne Stewart's story. There have been many untold stories of Arab men, South Asian men, being taken from their homes, detained arbitrarily." -- Daniel Gross, Fordham Law School, New York
Lynne Stewart: An American Story (78 min.) is to be released in 2009. The quotations above are taken from this video excerpt from Lynne Stewart: An American Story. For more information about Lynne Stewart, go to .


9) Lynne Stewart: Casualty of the "War on Terror"
by Marjorie Cohn
November 25, 2009

In a decision that reflects the post-911 terrorism hysteria, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed prominent civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart's convictions and remanded her case to district court Judge John G. Koeltl to reconsider her sentence. The appellate panel directed Koeltl to remand Stewart to custody and the 70-year-old woman is now in prison.

Stewart was convicted of conspiracy to provide and conceal material support to the conspiracy to murder persons in a foreign country (18 U.S.C. sec. 2339A and 18 U.S.C. sec. 2), conspiring to provide and conceal such support (18 U.S.C. sec. 371), and knowingly and willfully making false statements (18 U.S.C. sec. 1001). The majority opinion states that Stewart was convicted "principally with respect to [her] violations of those measures by which [she] had agreed to abide," namely, Special Administrative Measures (SAMs).

The SAMs were placed on Stewart's client, Sheikh Omar Ahmad Ali Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence for terrorism-related crimes. They restrict his ability to communicate with persons outside of the prison. Stewart and Abdel Rahman's other attorneys, Ramsey Clark and Abdeen Jabara, signed statements saying they wouldn't forward mail from Abdel Rahman to a third person or use their communications with Abdel Rahman to pass messages between him and third persons, including the media. Stewart violated her agreement to abide by the SAMs. Clark and Jabara allegedly did as well. Lawyers who violate SAMs expect to suffer administrative consequences, such as being denied visiting privileges. Yet Stewart was indicted for federal crimes. Clark and Jabara were not.

Judge Koeltl presided over the nine-month trial. Stewart was precluded from arguing that a prosecution for conspiring to commit a conspiracy (an inchoate offense) raises serious dangers. Koeltl sentenced Stewart to 28 months. The maximum sentence under the federal sentencing Guidelines is 30 years but the Supreme Court held in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005) that the guidelines are advisory, not mandatory.

Koeltl concluded that the terrorism enhancement, "while correct under the guidelines, would result in an unreasonable result." He cited "the somewhat atypical nature of Stewart's case" and "the lack of evidence that any victim was harmed as a result of the charged offense." The result of the terrorism enhancement, according to Koeltl, was "dramatically unreasonable in [her] case" because it "overstate[d] the seriousness of [her] past conduct and the likelihood that [she would] repeat the offense."

Stewart, Koeltl concluded, "has no criminal history and yet is placed in the highest criminal history category [under the terrorism enhancement] equal to that of repeat felony offenders for the most serious offenses including murder and drug trafficking." Koeltl found that Stewart's opportunity to repeat "the crimes to which she had been convicted will be nil" because she "will lose her license to practice law" ["itself a punishment"] and "will be forever separated from any contact with Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman."

Koeltl viewed Stewart's personal characteristics as "extraordinary" and determined that they "argue[d] strongly in favor of a substantial downward variance" from the guidelines. He described her as a dedicated public servant who had, throughout her career, "represented the poor, the disadvantaged and the unpopular, often as a Court-appointed attorney," thereby providing a "service not only to her clients but to the nation."

Koeltl also considered that Stewart had suffered from cancer -- undergoing surgery and radiation therapy -- and found a significant chance of recurrence. At age 67, Koeltl observed, prison would be "particularly difficult" for Stewart.

Although the appellate majority stated that the district court judge is "in the best position to make an individual determination about the 'history and characteristics' of a particular defendant, and to adjust the individualized sentence accordingly," the panel second-guessed Koeltl by ordering that he reconsider Stewart's sentence. Specifically, the panel directed Koeltl to consider whether Stewart committed perjury at trial by testifying "that she understood that there was a bubble built into the SAMs whereby the attorneys could issue press releases containing Abdel Rahman's statements as part of their representation of him." The panel also directed Koeltl to consider Stewart's possibly perjured testimony about "her purported lack of knowledge" of Taha, a leader of the Islamic Group, who had solicited a statement from Abdel Rahman opposing the continuation of a ceasefire between the Islamic Group and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government.

In fact, Koeltl noted there was "evidence to indicate that [Stewart's] statements were false statements." But he concluded it was "unnecessary to reach [the question] whether the defendant knowingly gave false testimony with the intent to obstruct the proceedings" because (1) the Guidelines calculation already provided for the statutory maximum, and (2) a non-Guidelines sentence was, in Koeltl's estimation, "reasonable and most consistent with the factors set forth in Section 3553(a)." Thus, Koeltl did consider whether Stewart committed perjury in his initial sentencing decision. Michael Tigar, Stewart's trial counsel, told me he is "convinced that there is ample independent corroboration for Lynne's version of events."

Judge Calabresi, who joined the majority panel decision, noted in his separate opinion that Koeltl was "a judge of extraordinary ability [with] a well-earned reputation for exceptional judgment." Calabresi wrote that "for us -- who have not been involved in the case and do not know all the backs and forths, . . . to second guess the district court's judgment seems to me to be precisely what both the Supreme Court and our court sitting en banc . . . have said we should not do."

According to Tigar, Koeltl's sentence decision was "well-argued." Tigar said, "For any court of appeals judge to write in a hostile vein about [Koeltl's] decision is an arrogation to the appellate court of a power that the rules of procedure and long legal tradition vest in trial judges. In addition," he added, "the sentence reflected the reality of this case, a reality that seems to have escaped the court of appeals panel."

Calabresi thought it "not . . . entirely irrelevant" that Stewart was the only lawyer criminally charged even though two others also violated the SAMs. Noting that "while prosecutorial discretion may be salutary in a wide variety of cases," Calabresi wrote, "when left entirely without any controls it will concentrate too much power in a single set of government actors, and they, moreover, may on occasion be subject to political pressure." Calabresi observed that the district court's exercise of its sentencing discretion "may provide the only effective way to control and diminish unjustified disparities."

Judge Walker, concurring and dissenting, wrote separately that Stewart's sentence was "breathtakingly low" and "extraordinarily lenient." He would go further than the majority and vacate Stewart's sentence as "substantively unreasonable."

Both Calabresi and the majority thought it significant that all of the acts for which Stewart was convicted occurred before the September 11, 2001 attacks. Calabresi would "take judicial notice of their timing" and "recognize that our attitudes about her conduct have inevitably been influenced by the tragedy of that day." Notably, he added: "We must be careful then in judging Stewart based on lessons that we learned only after her -- very serious -- crimes were committed." Stewart was indicted in 2002 and convicted in 2005.

"Lynne's representation of the sheik was in the best traditions of advocacy," Tigar said. "She was brought into the case by Ramsey Clark, and her actions on behalf of her client never went farther than Ramsey had already gone. The government's conduct towards her when the SAMs issue first erupted validated that belief."

The clear message of the 125-page majority appellate panel opinion is that attorneys who zealously represent their clients in the post-9/11 era beware. This result will undoubtedly chill the willingness of criminal defense attorneys to handle terrorism cases. Moreover, the Court of Appeals fortuitously released its opinion just as Attorney General Eric Holder announced his intent to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in federal court for his alleged role in the 9/11 attacks.


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