The national convention of the National Lawyers Guild took place starting Wednesday October 22 in Minneapolis. It concluded on October 26. On Thursday Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Doug Grow noted the event in a column on Guild star Lynne Stewart: “Singing tunes a little to the left” (now inaccessible online).
Stewart is the attorney for “the blind sheik,” Omar Abdul Rahman. Rahman was the spiritual leader of a cell that carried out the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and was planning to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels. He is incarcerated in the federal medical detention facility maintained in Rochester, Minnesota. Last year FrontPage published a good column detailing the path that brought Lynne Stewart to her representation of Rahman: “Who is behind Lynne Stewart?”
In April 2002 Stewart was arrested on charges that she facilitated the support of a foreign terrorist organization. In July of this year federal judge John Koetl dismissed the two most serious counts of the indictment against Stewart. Two less serious counts (seeking to defraud the United States and making false statements) remain against her. Click here for Judge Koetl’s order in PDF format. A FindLaw column by law professor Sherry Colb on the dismissed charges does a good job of explaining the seriousness of the underlying factual allegations: “Why Lynne Stewart is no heroine.”
I was called by Guild member Jennifer Van Bergen and asked to speak as a supporter of the PATRIOT Act at a convention panel on the Act. Van Bergen is the author of a six-part series of columns urging the repeal of the Act; click here to access them. I asked her to look for someone else, but told her I might do it if she couldn’t find anyone. She couldn’t find anyone else. I appeared on the panel on October 24.
What was I thinking? In truth, I was giving it up for Power Line. I thought I would come away with something of interest to report to readers about Stewart. I’m not sure it worked out that way. I sat next to her on the panel, up close and personal. She’s not an attractive woman.
But that was certainly the least of it. Guild history suggests that it has acted as a Communist front organization through much of its history, and it was recognized as the legal bulwark of the Communist Party in the United States by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities in 1950. Even Walter Goodman’s The Committee, an unfriendly history of HUAC, suggests the correctness of this characterization. FrontPage has a good summary of Guild history: “NLG:The legal fifth column.”
The Guild convention took place at the Holiday Inn Metrodome, a block from the University of Minnesota Law School. Entering the convention precincts was a little shocking; the ambience, the displays, and the literature really marked the convention as hostile territory. The booth promoting Dennis Kucinich for president looked normal by contrast.
Many handouts touted the cause of the only Cuban prisoners championed by the Guild — “the Cuba five.” The five, of course, are not any of Castro’s prisoners, but rather are five Cuban men held in federal prison on conviction of offenses including espionage against the United States. “Free the Cuba Five” is the motto; the cause of the Cuba five is part of the Guild’s old-time religion.
The Guild’s PATRIOT Act panel demonstrated how the Guild has moved seamlessly from defending America’s Communist enemies to defending America’s Islamofascist enemies. The common denominator between the Communist Manifesto and Shari’a law is not apparent in theory; only in practice does raw hatred of the United States unmistakbly reveal itself as the glue that joins the Guild and these two causes.
Stewart referred several times to 9/11 as providing the “pretext” or “excuse” for snuffing out idealistic “activists” such as she. Her indictment, she acknowledged, was not brought under the PATRIOT Act but, according to Stewart, it resulted from the same “aura” of hatred directed at Islam in the wake of 9/11. Stewart never once acknowledged the reality of the war against the United States or the peril that those such as her client the blind sheik pose to it. Stewart’s conclusion articulated her theme in the old Guild tradition, accusing the Bush administration of accomplishing the “usurpation [of civil liberties] by voracious corporate government.”
Included with Stewart and me on the PATRIOT Act panel was Minneapolis attorney Joseph Margulies. Margulies is affiliated with the Center for Constitutinal Rights and represents Guantanamo detainees, individuals designated as enemy combatants by the United States government. CCR proudly notes on its Web site that it is asking the United States government for proof that Guantanomo detainees are not being tortured.
Margulies traced the thread between the PATRIOT Act and the legal issues raised by the government’s treatment of the Guantanomo detainees as enemy combatants — “secrecy.” Margulies imputed sinister motives to the government’s protection of information — information that would relate to terrorist investigations — under the PATRIOT Act and information regarding the Guantanamo detainees.
The concept of secrecy during wartime does not seem like much of a theme with which to scandalize average citizens. Average citizens might be more interested in seeking the thread that connects left-wing legal outfits such as the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The thread that is apparent to me from my visit to the Guild convention is the assault on the critical legal components of the defense of the United States from its Islamofascist enemies in the name of a Constitution that in reality they hate.