Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Attorney General nominee Michael B. Mukasey stopped federal prosecutors from forcibly administering anti-psychotic drugs last year to a former congressional aide they wanted to stand trial on charges of working with Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi intelligence agents before the war.

In a major setback for Justice Department prosecutors, Mr. Mukasey, then a U.S. district judge in Manhattan, said Susan P. Lindauer, 44, of Takoma Park, could not be forced to take the medication, citing what he called “humanitarian concerns” in a procedure that “necessarily involves physically restraining defendant” to inject “mind-altering drugs.”

In his 35-page order, Judge Mukasey said Ms. Lindauer suffered from “hallucinations, grandiose and persecutory delusions” and was not competent to stand trial.

He doubted the government could prove the charges against Ms. Lindauer and criticized the prosecution as excessive.

“There is no indication that Lindauer ever came close to influencing anyone or could have,” he said, adding that several mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist retained by the government, had found Ms. Lindauer incompetent to stand trial.

Mr. Mukasey was nominated by President Bush on Monday to replace Alberto R. Gonzales, who resigned after the Senate challenged his credibility over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.

Ms. Lindauer, daughter of newspaper publisher John Howard Lindauer II, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate in Alaska, was arrested in Takoma Park in March 2004 on an 11-count indictment. She was accused of conspiring to act as a spy for the Iraqi Intelligence Service and engaging in prohibited financial transactions involving the Iraqi government under Saddam between 1999 and 2004.

Federal prosecutors said she accepted $10,000 for the work, acting as an unregistered agent of Iraq. The indictment does not accuse her of espionage.

Ms. Lindauer has denied any wrongdoing. She was released from prison after Judge Mukasey’s ruling and is free on bail.

The federal grand jury indictment said that on Jan. 8, 2003, Ms. Lindauer “delivered, to the home of a United States government official, a letter in which Lindauer conveyed her established access to, and contacts with, members of the Hussein regime, in an unsuccessful attempt to influence United States foreign policy.”

The letter’s recipient has been identified as White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., who is Ms. Lindauer’s second cousin. It urged the White House not to invade Iraq and outlined several likely consequences, including the resurgence of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda forces inside Iraq.

A business reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, editorial writer at the Herald in Washington state and a reporter at U.S. News & World Report, Ms. Lindauer also worked for Oregon Democratic Reps. Peter A. DeFazio and Ron Wyden, who is now a senator, and for former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, Illinois Democrat.

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