Five years after she came to the government's attention as a self-proclaimed if not delusionary foreign agent, Susan Lindauer has gotten a break. The former>"/>
Five years after she came to the government's attention as a self-proclaimed if not delusionary foreign agent, Susan Lindauer has gotten a break. The former Seattle journalist, accused of spying for Iraq, cannot be forcibly drugged and compelled to take the stand in a government espionage case that may be overblown, a federal judge in New York ruled yesterday. An ex-Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter and former U.S. Senate and House aide, Lindauer, 44, is charged by the Justice Department with conspiring to act as a spy and being an unregistered Iraqi agent. One of the alleged overt acts was delivering a letter in 2003 to her second cousin, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, hoping he could persuade his boss, George W. Bush, not to launch a war against Iraq. U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey yesterday deemed that letter the "high water mark" of the case, suggesting the mentally ill Susan Lindauer is no Mata Hari.
As Seattle Weekly earlier reported, the letter mentioned in her March 2004 indictment was actually one of two she wrote to Card, the first coming two months after Sept. 11, 2001. In it, Lindauer made no secret about her activism or her emotional mission to aid Iraqi citizens and, if she was a spy, she was letting the White House in on the secret. She told Card she was working back channels of government and claimed she was meeting with officials at the Iraqi embassy - something prosecutors say she in fact did. She wrote about conversations with Iraqi diplomats and extended an olive branch on behalf of Hussein's government-in hopes, she said, of getting U.S. economic sanctions lifted against Baghdad. "I am truly praying, Andy," she stated, "that this correspondence will trigger some sort of response from you, so that this ugly quagmire in Iraq can begin to heal."
U.S. prosecutors allege the antiwar activist accepted $10,000 from Hussein's intelligence unit over five years and sought to support resistance groups after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. She insisted her efforts-principally, to get economic sanctions lifted against Iraq-were misunderstood. The bigger question, however, was always her sanity. She had a history of mood swings and paranoid fears, as noted by friends and former co-workers - raised in Alaska and a graduate of Smith College in Massachusetts, Linduaer went to work in 1987 as a reporter at the P-I, and in 1989 was an editorial writer at The Herald in Everett. She also worked as a writer and researcher at U.S. News & World Report and Fortune. People were watching her, she often said, although, as it turned out, federal agents in 2003 indeed had set up surveillance and tapped her phone.
Judge Mukasey last fall, however, ruled she in fact was psychotic and incompetent to stand trial. Prosecutors then moved to have antipsychotic drugs administered so she could be tried. The Associated Press reports that Mukasey yesterday agreed that Lindauer suffers from hallucinations, grandiose and persecutory delusions and mood disturbances dating as far back as age 7. But he found that the government's interest to compel the drug induction was "significantly weaker" to other cases and ruled that it "would be a denial of reality ... to find otherwise." Lindauer's New York attorney, Stanford Talkin, didn't necessarily find the ruling a victory and was unsure where the case goes next.
Update: On Friday, Sept. 8, Judge Mukasey released Lindauer, ruling the government no longer had legal grounds to retain her. See comment below from J.B. Fields, who lived in Lindauer's home.