Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Is To Be Done?
Moving From the Imperial Monopole to a Democratic Global Community

By Don DeBar
September 28, 2014

"It's been a terrible year for principles of the UN Charter..."
 
So began the opening comments by the UN Secretary General at the UN General Assembly this past Wednesday.
 
Secretary Ban Ki-Moon then noted some of the most obvious ailments currently plaguing humanity in various parts of our world:
 
"From barrel bombs to beheadings, from the deliberate starvation of civilians to the assault on hospitals, UN shelters and aid convoys, human rights and the rule of law are under attack."
 
The Secretary General listed some of the recent and current theaters of mass bloodshed, including Gaza, Ukraine, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, Nigeria and, of course, Iraq and Syria. He reported that there are now more refugees than at any time since World War II, a rather remarkable development in and of itself.
 
An even more disturbing development during the year was the marked increase in overt US and EU hostility towards Russia, signaling what many have called the beginnings of a new Cold War. In that context, an even more frightening prospect was actualized - a hot war involving US military support for a conflict being conducted by a US proxy government, established by a US-backed coup, on Russia's borders.
 
Many around the world, and - for those who don't know because it simply isn't covered by US media - many in the US, understand that the primary common instigating factor underlying these many brutal military conflicts is US interference, direct and/or by proxy, in the domestic affairs of other nations. Those truly seeking a solution to the condition complained of by the Secretary General must, of practical necessity, begin there.
 
During his speech at the UN this past Saturday (28 Sept 14), Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov referenced a set of historical documents from 1933 (commonly known as "The Litvinov Letters") that I had been previously ignorant of, creating in the aggregate an agreement between the US and the USSR, apparently reached at the instigation of the US Administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, wherein both parties agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of the other. The US interest in this was clearly based in the fears of the ruling elites in the US of the huge popularity of socialist and communist theory and political activity during the Depression.
 
The outreach occurred at a time when the US was the sole major power holdout regarding recognition of the USSR. In a series of letters by and between President Roosevelt and Maxim Litvinov, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, the US recognized the USSR and the two parties agreed not to interfere in the internal affairs of the other, providing mechanisms for settling claims between the two, and more, thus:

  "It will be the fixed policy of the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics:
      "1. To respect scrupulously the indisputable right of the United States to order its own life within its own jurisdiction in its own way and to refrain from interfering in any manner in the internal affairs of the United States, its territories or possessions.
      "2. To refrain, and to restrain all persons in Government service and all organizations of the Government or under its direct or indirect control, including organizations in receipt of any financial assistance from it, from any act overt or covert liable in any way whatsoever to injure the tranquillity, prosperity, order, or security of the whole or any part of the United States, its territories or possessions, and, in particular, from any act tending to incite or encourage armed intervention, or any agitation or propaganda having as an aim, the violation of the territorial integrity of the United States, its territories or possessions, or the bringing about by force of a change in the political or social order of the whole or any part of the United States, its territories or possessions.
      "3. Not to permit the formation or residence on its territory of any organization or group--and to prevent the activity on its territory of any organization or group, or of representatives or officials of any organization or group--which makes claim to be the Government of, or makes attempt upon the territorial integrity of, the United States, its territories or possessions; not to form, subsidize, support or permit on its territory military organizations or groups having the aim of armed struggle against the United States, its territories or possessions, and to prevent any recruiting on behalf of such organizations and groups.
      "4. Not to permit the formation or residence on its territory of any organization or group--and to prevent the activity on its territory of any organization or group, or of representatives or officials of any organization or group--which has as an aim the overthrow or the preparation for the overthrow of, or the bringing about by force of a change in, the political or social order of the whole or any part of the United States, its territories or possessions.
  "It will be the fixed policy of the Executive of the United States within the limits of the powers conferred by the Constitution and the laws of the United States to adhere reciprocally to the engagements above expressed."

In a Facebook conversation with some colleagues, one wrote "The US never honoured it and would, in any case, take the position that with the fall of the USSR and emergence of the Russian Federation, the parties have changed." I suspect they might be inclined to take that position, but also suspect that the precedent has likely been established, at least as to presumption, with a myriad of other agreements between the two parties of which the US would strongly favor continuing recognition and enforceability. Although I haven't yet researched the particulars, I believe there were some ratifications of Russia (and some other former republics) as successor(s) with continuing force and effect regarding a number of agreements - e.g., if memory serves, arms control agreements. If true, that likely militates against the presumption; I also suspect the presumption was asserted, if not invoked, to induce those ratifications.
 
It appears that the so-called Litvinov letters were never ratified by the Senate, and, thus, are not treaties, per se, under US law. However, I did find that there are cases (dealing with property owned by US interests that was nationalized by the USSR) where the US Supreme Court ruled favorably on the enforceability of some of the provisions. Since the precept of non-interference is also enshrined in the UN Charter, I suspect a thorough review of the applicable law and practice would support Foreign Minister Lavrov's claim. I also suspect, given the outright serial violations of just about every precept of generally accepted standards of international law, that any actual expectation that the US will honor the 1933 terms at this point is, in a word, optimistic.
 
Nevertheless, the Foreign Minister was absolutely correct to cite the agreement; it is up to the rest of us to force our government to give it life.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

DICK GREGORY TO FAST UNTIL LYNNE STEWART IS FREED

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Ralph Schoenman, 707.552.9992; Lil Gregory, 508.746.7427
DICK GREGORY TO FAST UNTIL IMPRISONED ATTORNEY LYNNE STEWART IS FREED
 
Dick Gregory issued a declaration today, on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “I shall refuse all solid food until Lynne Stewart is freed and receives medical treatment in the care of her family and with physicians of her choice without which she will die.” 
 
The 73-year-old Stewart, a renowned criminal defense attorney, is suffering from Stage 4 cancer. Gregory, known for his social activism as much as his for comedic wit and political commentary, has taken this step to reinforce the worldwide petition in support of Stewart’s application for compassionate release. Over 6,000 people, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Pete Seeger, have signed to date with the numbers growing by the minute.
 
As a criminal defense lawyer for over 30 years, Lynne Stewart defended the poor, the disadvantaged and those targeted by the police and the State. Such has been her reputation that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent. One of these was the blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who Stewart represented with co-counsels former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Abdeen Jabara.
 
In 2002, Lynne Stewart was targeted by then-President George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft for providing a vigorous defense of her client. She was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist activity after she exercised both her and her client’s first amendment rights by presenting a press release to a Reuters journalist.
 
In 2006, while the Department of Justice demanded a 30-year sentence, Judge John Koetl, handed down a 28-month sentence noting: “By providing a criminal defense to the poor, the disadvantaged and unpopular over three decades, it is no exaggeration to say that Ms. Stewart performed a public service not only to her clients but to the nation.”
 
That sentence, however, was not to stand as the Second Circuit Appellate Court, withdrew Lynne Stewart’s bail — even though her case is still before the courts — and remanded the case back to Judge Koetl with the harsh demand that he revisit his sentence and issue a severely enhanced one. On July 15, 2010, Judge Koeltl increased Stewart’s sentence from 28 months to 10 years imprisonment.
 
This has become a virtual death sentence for Lynne Stewart.
 
As Gregory so eloquently states: “The reason for the prosecution and persecution of Lynne Stewart is evident to us all. It was designed to intimidate the entire legal community so that few would dare to defend political clients whom the State demonizes and none would provide a vigorous defense. It also was designed to narrow the meaning of our cherished first amendment right to free speech, which the people of this country struggled to have added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.”
 
DECLARATION BY DICK GREGORY — APRIL 4, 2013
I hereby declare on this day commemorating the life and sacrifice of my friend and brother in struggle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that in the spirit of his moral legacy, I demand the immediate release from prison of the legendary lawyer Lynne Stewart, who devoted her entire professional life to the poor, the oppressed and those targeted by the police and a vindictive State.
 
I further declare that from this day forth, I shall refuse all solid food until Lynne Stewart is freed and receives medical treatment in the care of her family and with physicians of her choice without which she will die.
 
There is no time to lose as cancer, which had been in remission, has metastasized since her imprisonment. It has spread to her lymph nodes, her shoulder and appears in her bones and in her lungs.
 
A criminal defense attorney in New York for over 30 years, Lynne Stewart’s unwavering dedication as a selfless advocate was acknowledged by the community as well as judges, prosecutors and the entire legal profession. Such has been her reputation as a fearless lawyer, ready to challenge those in power, that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent.
 
In 2002, Lynne Stewart was targeted by then-President George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft for providing a vigorous defense of her client, the blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. She was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist activity after she exercised both her and her client’s first amendment rights by presenting a press release to a Reuters journalist. She did nothing more than other attorneys, such as her co-counsel former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, have done on behalf of their clients.
 
The reason for the prosecution and persecution of Lynne Stewart is evident to us all. It was designed to intimidate the entire legal community so that few would dare to defend political clients whom the State demonizes and none would provide a vigorous defense. It also was designed to narrow the meaning of our cherished first amendment right to free speech, which the people of this country struggled to have added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.
 
The prosecution and imprisonment of Lynne Stewart is an ominous threat to the freedom, rights and dignity of each and every American. It is the agenda of a police state.
 
I ask you to join with me to demand freedom for Lynne Stewart. An international campaign has been launched with a petition that supports her application for compassionate release. Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Life threatening illness is foremost among these and Lynne Stewart meets every rational and humane criterion for compassionate release.
 
Join with me, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pete Seeger and 6,000 other people of conscience throughout the world who have signed this petition to compel the Warden of the Federal Medical Center, Carswell and the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to act. Act now. There is no time to lose.
 
The petition (below) can be found online at the Justice for Lynne Stewart website: www.lynnestewart.org or at
 
PETITION TO FREE LYNNE STEWART: SAVE HER LIFE – RELEASE HER NOW!
Lynne Stewart has devoted her life to the oppressed – a constant advocate for the countless many deprived in the United States of their freedom and their rights.
Unjustly charged and convicted for the “crime” of providing her client with a fearless defense, the prosecution of Lynne Stewart is an assault upon the basic freedoms of us all.
After years of post-conviction freedom, her bail was revoked arbitrarily and her imprisonment ordered, precluding surgery she had scheduled in a major New York hospital.
The sinister meaning of the relentless persecution of Lynne Stewart is unmistakably clear. Given her age and precarious health, the ten-year sentence she is serving is a virtual death sentence.
Since her imprisonment in the Federal Prison in Carswell, Texas her urgent need for surgery was delayed 18 months – so long, that the operating physician pronounced the condition as “the worst he had seen.”
Now, breast cancer, which had been in remission prior to her imprisonment, has reached Stage Four. It has appeared in her lymph nodes, on her shoulder, in her bones and her lungs.
Her daughter, a physician, has sounded the alarm: “Under the best of circumstances, Lynne would be in a battle of the most serious consequences with dangerous odds. With cancer and cancer treatment, the complications can be as debilitating and as dangerous as the cancer itself.”
In her current setting, where trips to physicians involve attempting to walk with 10 pounds of shackles on her wrists and ankles, with connecting chains, Lynne Stewart has lacked ready access to physicians and specialists under conditions compatible with medical success.
It can take weeks to see a medical provider in prison conditions. It can take weeks to report physical changes and learn the results of treatment; and when held in the hospital, Lynne has been shackled wrist and ankle to the bed.
This medieval “shackling” has little to do with any appropriate prison control. She is obviously not an escape risk.
We demand abolition of this practice for all prisoners, let alone those facing surgery and the urgent necessity of care and recovery.
It amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of human rights.
There is immediate remedy available for Lynne Stewart. Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, after a prisoner request, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Life threatening illness is foremost among these and Lynne Stewart meets every rational and humane criterion for compassionate release.
To misconstrue the gravamen of this compassionate release by conditioning such upon being at death’s door – released, if at all, solely to die – is a cruel mockery converting a prison sentence, wholly undeserved, into a death sentence.
The New York Times, in an editorial (2/12), has excoriated the Bureau of Prisons for their restrictive crippling of this program. In a 20-year period, the Bureau released a scant 492 persons – an average of 24 a year out of a population that exceeds 220,000.
We cry out against the bureaucratic murder of Lynne Stewart.
We demand Lynne Stewart’s immediate release to receive urgent medical care in a supportive environment indispensable to the prospect of her survival and call upon the Bureau of Prisons to act immediately.
If Lynne’s original sentence of 28 months had not been unreasonably, punitively increased to 10 years, she would be home now — where her medical care would be by her choice and where those who love her best would care for her. Her isolation from this loving care would end.
Prevent this cruelty to Lynne Stewart whose lifelong commitment to justice is now a struggle for her life.
Free Lynne Stewart Now!
- Ralph Poynter and Family