Bush administration official smears attorneys defending Gitmo detainees

Nothing like a good dose of incredulous outrage to start your day. This morning I read an editorial in the Washington Post about recent comments made by Curtis Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs. In an interview this week with Federal News Radio, Stimpson listed a group of US law firms defending detainees in Guantanamo. He continued on to say,

“I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.”

When asked who was paying the firms, he said “It’s not clear, is it?” he said. “Some will maintain that they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, that they’re doing it pro bono, and I suspect they are; others are receiving monies from who knows where, and I’d be curious to have them explain that.”

It shouldn’t surprise me that Stimson is mystified by the motivations of the attorneys defending detainees – it’s called a commitment to the rule of law and a belief in the Constitution.

(Incidentally, a lawyer from one of these law firms who is defending detainees in Guantanamo spoke at a vigil yesterday about his clients. His comments can be read in yesterday’s post.)

Sara in Philly

6 thoughts on “Bush administration official smears attorneys defending Gitmo detainees

  1. You still have to admire how absolutely brilliant the command of the phrasing is.

    In just a few sentences, the man was able to establish that all detaines at Gitmo are, in fact, terrorists. This proves that the Bush administration has made no mistakes in who they’ve captured.

    Next, even though I’m sure none of the companies he would be including in his comment would have even thought about firing a law firm defending human rights, he manages to put the idea out there. So next thing you know, let’s see if it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    And then, he leaves a vague “who knows” for where the money comes from in a way that only an idiot wouldn’t immediately draw the line to terrorist organizations.

    This is precisely the command of the language that got Bush elected twice. They’re just so darned good at it, you have to admire them at the same time you despise them!

  2. Just to be sure they get it right on the petition for disbarment, the man’s name is Charles (“Cully”) Stimson. He teaches part-time, believe it or not, at George Mason Law School. He’s a JAG (“judge advocate general,” that is, a trained military lawyer) in the Naval Reserves, as well as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (federal prosecutor) in the District of Columbia (on leave). He apparently doesn’t know that lawyers have an ethical duty to represent the unpopular client, and that representation of a client does not imply agreement with the client’s political or other views, much less with the conduct they’re accused of. (Something people forget all the time when criticizing the ACLU.) But I guess it’s not that big a surprise that policy-making lawyers in the current administration might have this sort of point of view. After all, it was colleagues of this character who wrote the memos justifying — and thus encouraging — the use of torture by playing word-games with the Geneva Conventions. Drafting those interrogation policies was within the Nuremberg definitions of war crimes. At least this guy’s comments only amount to outrages against legal ethics.

  3. RE: “the petition for disbarment”

    These statements really are corrosive to our advisarial system of justice… the accused must be represented or it is a farce. Let the inquistion begin! Or has it already?

    How does a petition for disbarment work? Is it really a possibility? He would deserve it.

  4. Mr. Stimson didn’t get the message. Today’s WSJ (or maybe it was Friday’s, since I read both today) featured a column by a lawyer who, after describing the luxurious accomodations at Gitmo, went on to list with admiration the prominent law firms from NYC and Washington (but omitting Pepper Hamilton) who are providing legal counsel to the detainees. So not only is Stimson ignorant of the law and every lawyer’s obligation to represent his/her clients, good or bad, to the best of their ability, he’s ignorant of the administration’s spin. Tsk, tsk.

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