Saturday, January 4, 2014

A True Miscarriage Of Justice

It is with anger, disgust and shame that I write today's post. For the first time in my life I'm ashamed of the agency I spent my career with, the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Lynne Stewart, the defense attorney turned terrorist who defended blind cleric Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and then became his messenger between the Sheik and his terrorist organization(s), received a compassionate release from prison after serving only four years of a 10 year sentence.  Apparently Ms. Stewart has "terminal" breast cancer and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, as well as federal prosecutors and U.S. District John G. Koeltl, felt sorry for her and all agreed she should be released.

Ms. Stewart's "terminal medical condition and very limited life expectancy constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons that warrant the requested reduction," Koeltl wrote in his order. "It is further ordered that the defendant shall be released from the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons as soon as her medical condition permits, the release plan is implemented and travel arrangements can be made."

I wonder if the judge had the same consideration for the people who did or could have died because of Ms. Stewart's aiding the blind sheik with his terrorist communications. Stewart had written to the judge saying she did not want to "die in a strange and loveless place." She didn't seem to be concerned about the sheik's victims dying when she was aiding his activities.

In 1995, Lynne Stewart represented Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman when he faced terrorism charges including plots to blow up American military installations. Abdel-Rahman was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Stewart continued to represent the sheik and apparently befriended him. 

One of the stipulations set by the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Prisons was that Abdel-Rahman not be permitted any contact with his organization, Islamic Group. In 2000, after visiting him in prison, Ms. Stewart broke that stipulation by passing a message from the sheik to his organization that Islamic Group should reconsider a cease-fire in attacks against the Egyptian government. His organization had plots to blow up landmarks in New York and an assassination plot against Egypt's then-President Hosni Mubarak.

Stewart was convicted and initially received a 28 month sentence, which was later modified by Judge Koeltl to a full 10 years. Now, that same judge has released her after only 4 years because she has cancer. The Bureau of Prisons has to agree to and recommend an early release before the judge will approve it. As does the Justice Department. So BOP Director Charles Samuels and Attorney General Eric Holder are both responsible for this terrorist being released.

I know I'm supposed to have compassion for all but I find it difficult to feel sorry for this woman. Amazingly, when she was released a crowd of well wishers cheered her and said justice has finally been served for Lynne Stewart. Huh? 

As a former agent of the court, Lynne Stewart deserves to die in prison for her actions. Call me heartless if you will but that's my opinion. Aiding and abetting terrorists, particularly those who plot against her own country, should carry a life sentence. And if she's only got 18 months to live that would have been appropriate.

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