Monday, October 16, 2006

28 Months for Treason?

Captain Ed reports:

A federal judge sentenced [attorny Lynne] Stewart to 28 months in prison for assisting Omar Abdel Rahman in activating his terrorist network while the US held him in custody -- and then temporarily released her on her own recognizance:

A firebrand civil rights lawyer who has defended Black Panthers and anti-war radicals was sentenced Monday to nearly 2 1/2 years in prison — far less than the 30 years prosecutors wanted — for helping an imprisoned terrorist sheik communicate with his followers on the outside. ...

The judge said Stewart was guilty of smuggling messages between her client and his followers that could have "potentially lethal consequences." He called the crimes "extraordinarily severe criminal conduct."

But in departing from federal guidelines that called for 30 years behind bars, he cited Stewart's more than three decades of dedication to poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients.

"Ms. Stewart performed a public service, not only to her clients, but to the nation," Koeltl said.

The judge said Stewart could remain free while she appeals, a process that could take more than a year.

This woman sent messages to Rahman's followers in Egypt that instructed them to begin terrorist activity. She knew exactly what she did -- after all, she had defended Rahman and had seen the evidence against him -- and turned her back on her country and her humanity in order to suck up to a man who plotted the murder of tens of thousands of Americans. Stewart's actions could easily have led to the deaths of many innocent civilians.

Despicable. Both Judge Koetl and Lynne Stewart, that is. There is no excuse for a sentence of less than 30 years, certainly not the excuse given by Judge Koetl. And why is the judge allowing the woman to go free, pending appeal? She will either abscond to Pakistan, to be with Osama, or find new ways to betray her country, right here at home.

It's telling that Stewart gave "more than three decades of [service] to poor, disadvantaged and unpopular clients." Lawyers like that aren't really altruists who are dedicated to their clients. They're malcontents who are dedicated to the subversion of the rule of law by playing the criminal-as-victim card.

Had I been prosecuting the case I would have gone for a charge of treason and the death penalty. Perhaps Stewart might have "pled out" to a 30-year sentence, to be served with hardened criminals -- not at a "country club" for white-collar criminals.

The outcome of Stewart's case reminds me of the grave mistake made by the U.S. Supreme Court when it emasculated federal sentencing guidelines by making them advisory. For more on that subject, see "More Punishment Means Less Crime," "More About Crime and Punishment," and "More Punishment Means Less Crime: A Footnote."

ADDENDUM: See also Justin Levine's post, "Attorney Lynne Stewart - Traitorous Scumbag."