This is a bizarre case that has been mostly ignored by the press. At issue was the attempt by the government to forcibly medicate a woman who had embarrassed the administration:
A judge dealt a severe setback to the government’s case against a one-time journalist and congressional aide accused of becoming a paid Iraqi intelligence agent when he ruled she cannot be forced to take medication to control delusions of grandiosity and paranoia.
U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey on Wednesday also criticized the strength of the case against Susan Lindauer. He rejected the government’s request that it be permitted to administer drugs to try to make her competent to stand trial.
At least a half-dozen mental health professionals including a psychiatrist retained by the government have found Lindauer mentally incompetent to stand trial, the judge said.
Lindauer was arrested in March 2004 in Takoma Park, Maryland, on charges she conspired to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and engaged in banned financial transactions with Saddam Hussein’s government. The charges carry potential penalties of up to 25 years in prison.
The indictment against Lindauer accused her of meeting in 1999 and October 2001 with Iraqi spy agency officers, accepting an unspecified task and about $10,000 and delivering a letter to a U.S. government official claiming Iraqi contacts and trying to influence U.S. foreign policy. It also alleged she met an undercover FBI agent posing as a Libyan spy to support resistance groups in Iraq after the U.S. invasion.
The judge said it appeared the “high-water mark” of the effort she’s accused of making to act as an unregistered agent of the Iraqi government would be her January 2003 delivery of the letter to the U.S. official, which the indictment described as an unsuccessful attempt to influence U.S. foreign policy.
As the judge noted, the identity of the recipient of the letter was former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, a distant cousin of Lindauer.
Whether you agree with Lindauer’s politics or not (and I note that if she was truly spying for the Iraqi government, declaring her intentions to the president’s chief of staff seems like a very un-spy-like thing to do), the questions raised by her case are chilling. Does the American government really feel it can lock up people who haven’t been tried by seizing on personality traits it find unpleasant and declaring them incompetent — unless they agree to be drugged?
The good news is that Judge Mukasey has ruled against the government and Susan Lindauer is home. I don’t agree with her left-liberal political views, but I would defend to the death her right to hold them.