After the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the Feds managed to set up what they call a sting operation, but what was more likely a poorly managed entrapment scheme against a blind Islamic cleric, Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, whose real crime was railing against the United States. The poor fellow was convicted by a jury of plotting to bomb a number of prominent New York City landmarks, the plot of course being crafted entirely by the Feds themselves, and he now languished in prison under a life sentence, with heavy restrictions imposed on his ability to communicate to the outside world under the ruse that such communication may aid and abet terrorist activity.
    Lynne Stewart, an activist attorney whose clients are often the down and out, the underdogs of society, either because of their socio-economic status or their political leanings, was asked by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who originally defended the Sheikh, to take over his case, and after some hesitation, she accepted.
    Although she has admitted that the Sheikh was not one of her favorite clients, she defended him vigorously, particularly in post trial motions relating to his treatment and possible transfer to an Egyptian prison. She has said that she believes the Sheikh was innocent of the charges for which he was convicted.
    Anyone with a healthy sense of self preservation would gag at the idea of jailing a blind Sheikh. The recklessly inflammatory nature of the entrapment and conviction must either not have been a primary consideration of the U.S. Justice Department at that time (during the Administration of President Clinton), or was a deliberate provocation.
    After a tragedy of the dimensions of 9-11, naturally the Feds, realizing that they had a direct role in its instigation, strove to cover up any connection that the public might make between their stupidity and the event. Not that the public, which is a little slow to connect the dots, would make such a connection. But outright guilt apparently drove the Feds to worry over such a possibility, and what better defense than to blame Lynne Stewart for what they themselves effected. She was, to them, undoubtedly a convenient, if not a perfect, scapegoat and decoy.
    Stewart, as part of her professional legal services to the Sheikh, apparently assisted in his thwarting some of the stringent restrictions on his communication to the outside world, and helped him convey a message to his Egyptian followers, through a publicly issued press release, to the effect that he no longer supported a cease-fire they were observing.
    Two other Moslem associates of Stewart were also convicted. They no doubt did nothing wrong, but the convoluted case against they and Stewart was considered triable by the judge, and a jury ruled all the defendants guilty on all counts. That alone makes 'the jury's ruling rather suspect. The three defendants were tried together, even though the cases against the two Moslems were quite different in character from that of Stewart, leading to a kind of guilt by association with no basis in law.
    Stewart was also a thorn in the Justice Department's side, as she had won some rather high profile cases at the expense of Federal prosecutors.
    The government has huge resources to mount its case, while Stewart, who is by no means wealthy through her legal work for the poor, has a rather limited pocketbook to fund her defense. Granted, she has had some help from benefactors such as multi-billionaire George Soros. But that is nothing compared to what the government can spend. Her case took literally months to try.
    In the meantime, several other similar "sting" operations have resulted in convictions of Moslems who probably did no more than to voice unflattering views of U.S. foreign policy and those who craft it. It is that easy to sway a jury in an atmosphere charged with the threat of terrorist activity after 9-11.  Many have in the past couple of years earned life sentences for their thoughts. The public, however, seems unperturbed, convinced that these Islamic figures of varying sorts are almost certainly guilty. A good dose of religious bias must enter into such opinions, which makes one wonder if a fair trial for any Moslems can be had in the United States.
    We hope the judge, who has scheduled a sentencing date in March of this year, declares a mistrial, and throws the case out. Then we should investigate the Justice Department officials who mounted these absurd cases, even though, for many of these criminals posing as public servants, the statute of limitations must have expired. We don't need to reward government officials who victimize New Yorkers and make us a target for terrorists!

Updated 1/7/2006