Osama’s favorite lawyer: Lynne Stewart

Lynne Stewart

As we saw yesterday, lawyer Lynne Stewart, who died on March 7, was caught passing messages between her client Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheikh,” and his terrorist followers. What happened next? Quite properly, she was arrested and charged with providing support to terrorists. And what happened after that? Quite predictably, a veritable army of far-left organizations, socialist publications, and terrorist front groups shrieked in protest. So did Pravda. Among the donors to her defense committee was George Soros’s Open Society Institute. And guess who recorded a videotape in which he championed her cause? Why, none other than Osama bin Laden himself.

Not surprisingly, the folks at The Nation were at the forefront of Stewart’s defense. David Cole wrote: “Stewart, a 65-year-old who has never committed a violent act, now faces twenty to thirty years in prison. Do you feel safer?” Cole accused the Justice Department of “turn[ing] an administrative infraction into a terrorism conviction that, unless reversed, will likely send Stewart to prison for the rest of her life.”

Judge John Koeltl

Stewart’s trial dragged on for years. She committed perjury. Her sentencing didn’t take place until 2006. At that event, the judge, John Koeltl, showed that he, too, had a soft spot for Stewart. Instead of sentencing her to 30 years, as required by official guidelines, he gave her 28 months and – perversely – praised her for her “public service…to the nation.” She promptly began gloating over her victory and resumed consorting with terrorists and other criminals.

Judge Robert Sack

Judge Robert Sack of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was not impressed. “From the moment she committed the first act for which she was convicted, through her trial, sentencing and appeals,” Sack wrote, “Stewart has persisted in exhibiting what seems to be a stark inability to understand the seriousness of her crimes.” In 2010, Sacks’s court asked Koeltl to reconsider the sentence. Koeltl, who himself had been appalled by Stewart’s appalling conduct and lack of contrition, agreed that he’d made a mistake and upped her prison term to ten years. “Lynne Stewart,” wrote Matthew Vadum, celebrating the tougher sentence, “is a terrorist and a traitor and ideally she should have received the death penalty.” His logic: by conveying instructions from Rahman to his followers, Stewart “became a terrorist in her own right and back in the good old days would have been put to death, as her fellow traitors the Rosenbergs were.”

Dick Gregory

But in 2013, when she said she was dying of cancer, Koeltl was pressured by the Obama Administration and by a bevy of Stewart’s radical allies to release her on “compassionate grounds.” Dick Gregory went on a hunger strike, vowing not to eat until Stewart was free. Koeltl caved. Stewart was allowed to go home. A socialist newspaper later recalled the joy this kindled among Stewart’s fans: “Our Lynne, the people’s lawyer, woman warrior and courageous freedom fighter, finally was coming home.” After her release, Stewart resumed her career of standing up for murderers. Indeed, last year Michelle Malkin reported that Stewart was “as unrepentant and unapologetic as the rest of her rotten hippie pals in the bloodthirsty Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army and Black Panther movement” and was continuing “to endorse murdering her ideological enemies in the name of peace and social justice.” In her last years, Stewart celebrated the new wave of cop-killers, calling them “avengers” whose actions “spoke for some of us” and who were “avenging deaths that are never and have never been avenged since the ’60s and ’70s.”

Rahman died only 18 days before Stewart did. “He was a personification of an American hero,” she told the New York Times.

Doubling down at The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel , Stephen F. Cohen

We’ve spent a good deal of time on this website in the company of the Boris and Natasha of Kremlin buffs, veteran Ivy League Sovietologist Stephen F. Cohen and his sweet little hausfrau Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher and editor-in-chief of Pravda – sorry, The Nation. Most recently, we’ve seen how more and more folks in the media and academy have come to recognize that Cohen is nothing more or less than a shill for Vladimir Putin. His wife, plainly understanding that the jig is perilously close to being up, has reacted in accordance with longtime Nation habits by doubling down on the disinformation. So it was that readers of the radical rag were treated on May 20 to a ridiculously long piece in which James Carden savaged a new report on pro-Russian propaganda in the West.

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James Carden

The report, which Carden slammed as a “highly polemical manifesto,” was, he charged, essentially “a publicity stunt by two journalists attempting to cash in on the Russophobia so in vogue among American pundits.” He proceeded to smear one of the report’s authors, Michael Weiss, for his background at the Henry Jackson Society – a first-rate think tank in London that Carden dismissed as “a London-based bastion of neoconservatism” and maligned as “anti-Muslim” for its gutsy, cogent critiques of Islam. Carden also went after Weiss’s co-author, Peter Pomerantsev, as an “assiduous self-promoter” (a type, of course, unfamiliar to the folks at The Nation) and for his ties to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former billionaire whom Putin unceremoniously jailed, tortured, and relieved of the bulk of his assets.

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Vladimir Putin

In what has become a standard ploy of Putin apologists, Carden besmirched Khodorkovsky – “it should not be forgotten that the oil tycoon made his fortune in a spectacularly corrupt and sometimes violent fashion,” etc., etc. – as a means of distraction from the epic corruption and violence of Putin, who, after all, unlike the former businessman and current human-rights activist Khodorkovsky, is the saber-rattling, gay-oppressing, opponent-murdering head of a nuclear power.

borisnatashacohen-natashaPlease do come back tomorrow: we’re not quite done with Mr. Carden’s jeremiad – or, needless to say, with his shifty, Kremlin-loving paymasters, the American left’s own Boris and Natasha. 

The #1 Putin apologist’s apologists

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Stephen F. Cohen

We saw yesterday that the jig is just about up for NYU professor and Putin publicist Stephen F. Cohen. People who have Putin’s number are getting wise to Cohen’s campaign of propaganda – in response to which his fellow members of the Putin fan club have circled the wagons, defending Cohen and smearing his critics. Yesterday we took a look at Paul Craig Roberts, who, in an impressive low, slammed Radio Liberty – on whose website reporter Carl Schreck had examined the increasingly widespread concern about Cohen’s views – at the website of Pravda. 

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Robert Parry

Another Putin apologist whom we’ve mentioned before, Robert Parry, also tore into Schreck, accusing him of relying “on vitriol rather than reason.” This was just plain dishonest: Schreck’s article, to repeat, was a piece of straightforward reportage, which quoted amply from both Cohen and his critics. As for Radio Liberty, Parry sought to discredit it by recalling a thirty-year-old minor controversy over its airing of commentaries by Ukrainian exiles some of whom had “praised Ukrainian nationalists who sided with the Nazis in World War II.” Parry sought to use this historical footnote from the Reagan Era to smear last year’s democratic Maidan Revolution as a largely neo-Nazi project and to depict the current, Western-oriented Ukrainian government as “coz[ying] up to modern-day neo-Nazis.” In Parry’s account, Cohen is only telling the plain and simple truth about Russia and Putin; any criticisms of Cohen’s views on the subject, however consistent those criticisms may be with the actual facts of the matter, are “ad hominem attacks”; Cohen, insists Parry, is the chief victim of “a new McCarthyism” in America that questions “the patriotism of anyone who doesn’t get in line” as the U.S. pursues a “new Cold War with Russia.”

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James Kirchick

All these claims, of course, are part of the standard pro-Putin line, one of the sharpest observers of which is no-nonsense American journalist James Kirchick – who noted wryly, in a savvy article published by the Tablet on May 13, that Russia is moving “from having fought real Fascists 70 years ago in Germany to imaginary ones today in Ukraine.” The Kremlin’s resuscitation of wartime anti-fascist rhetoric, Kirchick points out, “provides Russians with an easy framework in which to understand their current political predicament,” even though “if there’s any regime in Europe today that resembles a ‘fascist’ one, it is Russia.” Kirchick elaborates:

Like the Nazis, Russia has invaded a neighbor based on the principle of ethnic comradeship, is targeting a vulnerable domestic minority (homosexuals) with state-sanctioned bigotry, and officially labels any and all dissenters “national traitors.” As Moscow relives its glorious past, monopolizing the heroism of World War II and slandering its contemporary adversaries as latter-day Nazis, it inches closer and closer toward becoming the sort of fascist regime its forebears once fought against.

Precisely. And useful stooges such as Stephen F. Cohen, Paul Craig Roberts, and Robert Parry are defending its reprehensible actions every inch of the way.