Sunday, January 01, 2012

Radio show of 2011

Lynne Stewart is a political prisoner in the US. She's not the only political prisoner by any means. But among the things that differentiate Lynne from, for example, Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier, is that there was no attempt to frame her breaking a law.


Lynne's not even falsely accused of breaking law.

Nothing she did violated any law ever passed by Congress and only Congress -- check your Constitution -- can pass laws. Lynne is a face of the new political prisoner, the one locked away for breaking non-laws, for violating mandates or some similar garbage.

And her story is a very important one. It's also one that gets so very little attention.

One show that does cover Lynne?

Law and Disorder Radio. L&D is a weekly hour long program that started on WBAI (where it still airs Mondays at 9:00 AM EST) and is now syndicated around the country.

Law and Disorder Radio

If you have drive a clunker or like cars, you probably have checked out NPR's Car Talk and may listen weekly. That's because Ray and Tom Magliozzi are car mechanics and can provide you with their expertise. The hosts of L&D are attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights).

Last week, reading an article at POLITICO where the writer was unable to state clearly that US citizens are legally entitled to due process, Elaine wondered "Do US journalists even know the Constitution?" That question can pop up a great deal as you read through papers, watch TV, listen to the radio and visit various websites.

Heidi and the Michaels?

They know the Constitution.

They also know court verdicts.

They explore important issues and do so in an informed manner.

More than any radio program last year, Law and Disorder Radio repeatedly tackled the important issues and sometimes were the only ones tackling it.

Again to Lynne Stewart.

Lynne's imprisoned for issuing a press release to Reuters news agency. That's her "crime." That's what has a 72-year-old woman currently behind bars. The action Lynne took? She did so in the nineties. Bill Clinton was president. The Justice Department looked into it and rightly saw no law was broken and didn't pursue it. The Supreme Court installed George W. Bush and he and John Ashcroft were off on a witch hunt. They brought charges against Lynne.

Using 9-11 imagery, symbolism and comparisons to frighten a jury in NYC, they were able to get a conviction and a two year prison term. But then Hope and Change came to the White House.

Two years wasn't good enough for Barack and his Justice Department. They ordered a new sentencing. This time Lynne was sentenced to ten years. Not only did she break a new law, she never broke a law. And what passed for 'new' information was interviews Lynne had given where she expressed that, despite cancer, she thought she could handle the two years. That was the basis for the new sentencing.

Last week, the hosts spoke with Lynne's husband Ralph Poynter. Excerpt.

Ralph Poynter: And she is looking forward to her attorney Herald Fahringer presenting to the court once again testing the law in February, that will be February 29th at Federal Court and we are planning a Occupy the Courtroom -- and Occupy the Park the night before, the 28th through the 29th, the date of her -- not her appearance, the day that there will be a hearing of her case. And she says you take each struggle as it comes. And she has a way of being funny, her spirits are good. She said to me, "Little did I ever think that I would be putting my hopes in the hands of Clarence Thomas." And I say, "Lynne, that is funny, but not in your circumstance."

Heidi Boghosian: Right. Ralph, tell us exactly what the lawyer will be asking for.

Ralph Poynter: He will be talking about the sentencing. The change from the 28 months to the 120 months. Nothing changed [there was no new hearing on new charges, the jury had already rendered their verdict years prior] and the laws that Judge [John G.] Koeltl used to extend his rationale for extending it was as ridiculous, you might say, as the Weapons of Mass Destruction but they got over with that, so they might get over with these two ridiculous cases that he used. One where they didn't know about a sex offender putting on video of a 10-year-old that he was offending sexually and another one where the government, when the sentence was given, did not know that the person being sentenced had stolen far more money, federal money, than they had imagined. So they used that as an example of being able to extend sentences.

Over and over, the national and international issues that so many ignore are addressed by Boghosian, Ratner and Smith. Listening doesn't just inform you of the issues, it also educates you on the law. And in a country where those in charge so frequently break it, knowing the law just might be the most radical thing you could do.
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