By Alan W. Dowd
Time Off for Bad Behavior
In sentencing the now disbarred and disgraced defense attorney Lynne Stewart, who was found guilty of helping her terrorist client Omar Abdel Rahman communicate with his followers from prison, federal Judge John Koeltl pointed to decades of political activism as reason to ease Stewart’s punishment. By working on behalf of unpopular clients, Koeltl declared that Stewart had “performed a public service, not only to her clients but to the nation” and in his view had earned a lenient sentence.
So, instead of 30 years in federal prison for aiding a terrorist enemy of America—Rahman was convicted of plotting to destroy the Lincoln and Holland tunnels in New York—Stewart got 28 months and left the courthouse free on bail pending appeal. The savvy, street-smart Stewart knew she had effectively beaten the rap. “You get time off for good behavior usually at the end of your prison term,” she crowed. “I got it at the beginning,” adding, “This is a great victory against an overreaching government.”
Overreaching government? As the Washington Post reported, Stewart was convicted in federal court for “helping a jailed terrorist sheik communicate with his disciples.” Her paralegal was sentenced to 24 years for his role in this treason. An Arabic interpreter under her employ was sentence to 20 months. Koeltl himself, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, called Stewart’s offenses “extraordinarily severe criminal conduct.”
But her crimes were apparently not severe enough to outweigh a lifetime of activist lawyering. Speaking of which, according to the Associated Press, Stewart’s unpopular clients include mafia hit men, cop killers and members of radical anarchist groups such as the Weather Underground and Black Panthers, in addition to jihadists bent on destroying American landmarks and murdering American citizens.
‘Mettle’ of Honor
Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham of Scio, New York, has been awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroic exploits near the Iraq-Syrian border in 2004. According to CNN, Dunham, was leading a patrol that intercepted a convoy fleeing a nearby attack on another Marine unit. When an enemy from one of the stopped cars resisted, Duhman engaged him in hand-to-hand combat. Then, when the enemy dropped a live hand grenade, Dunham used his own body to shield his fellow Marines from the blast.
Dunham, who had extended his enlistment not long before the attack, died eight days later at BethesdaNavalHospital.
“As long as we have Marines like Cpl. Dunham, America will never fear for her liberty,” said President George W. Bush during his announcement of the recognition. Added Vice President Dick Cheney, “He loved his country, believed in his mission and wanted to stay with his fellow Marines to see the job through.”
Dunham is only the second American to receive the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq. Army Sgt. Paul Ray Smith was given the nation’s highest military honor for helping fellow troops to safety and killing at least 50 enemy forces during the battle for BaghdadInternationalAirport in April 2003. Like Dunham, Smith paid the highest price.
As a contributing editor to The American Legion, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.