Ron Kuby: Judas goat

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Sep 22 18:23:53 MDT 2002

(Today's NY Times magazine section has a hatchet job on attorny Lynn
Stewart who has been charged with relaying "terrorist" messages from her
imprisoned client, the blind Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. He was alleged to
be the mastermind behind the original WTC bombing. Notable is the
concluding paragraphs that lines up the renegade Ron Kuby against
Stewart. Kuby worked with William Kunstler in the past and was widely
seen as his successor. Lately Kuby has put more energy in his AM talk
radio career than anything else. Teamed with ultrarightist Curtis Sliwa,
founder of the vigilante Guardian Angels, he is supposed to represent
the left side of the spectrum on "Curtis and Kuby" broadcast each
morning on WABC in NYC, a high-power AM station owned by the Disney
corporation. Kuby has staked out a pro-war on terrorism position that
would shame the likes of Christopher Hitchens. At one point the USA was
dropping high-powered bombs on caves supposedly occupied by al-Qaeda
combatants in order to cut off their oxygen supply and suffocate them.
Kuby's reaction was to gloat over this and say that it was like killing
cockroaches. Also around this time he would invite people of Islamic
origin facing charges over terrorism to contact his office. None did.
These are the concluding paragraphs of the Times article.)

Even Ron Kuby, a strong defender of Stewart, has rethought many things
since Sept. 11. He now regrets having defended El Sayyid A. Nosair,
accused of killing the Jewish extremist Meir Kahane. When Sattar, the
sheik's paralegal, was arrested along with Stewart, Kuby was ready to
represent him at the bail hearing, until Kuby's wife said, ''You don't
know what he was doing.'' Kuby reached a decision: ''I sure as hell
don't think people who would take my family, put them in purdah and put
me up against a wall and shoot me are entitled to my support in that

Lawyers are cowards, Kuby told me -- he far more than Lynne Stewart.
They live vicariously through their clients. ''Movement'' lawyers,
especially, identify with the people they represent. When the lawyer is
as loving and committed as Stewart, he said, and the client as
charismatic as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the identification becomes
passionate. ''In the best of cases we identify with their determination,
with their courage, and we see the people that maybe we could have been
had we the courage to do what they did. And as a result, if you're a
good lawyer, you spend a lot of time doing gut checks. And because it's
a profession that is so cowardly, enjoying the aura of being those
people without ever taking the risks of being those people, it's easy to
say: this is the right thing to do, I'm not hurting anyone, this is
morally justified. I'm refusing to do it out of fear because I'm a
coward, and I've got to change that. I can't succumb to that kind of
fear, because if I'm afraid of the government here, I can't do this job.''

Kuby escorted me from his office out onto lower Broadway. He lighted a
cigarette and grew melancholy. He asked what I thought of Stewart's
case. I said that the men of the legal left had been more savvy, and now
she was all alone to pay the price. ''Lynne is dying for our sins?''
Kuby considered it. ''Maybe. History is very unforgiving of people who
pick the wrong side at the wrong time in the wrong place. And even if
she wins, Lynne is ruined as a lawyer.''


Louis Proyect

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