Monday, January 15, 2007

Rights? What rights?

USA Today reports that a Pentagon official is mad at lawyers who are donating their time to represent Guatanamo detainees.

In a radio interview last week, Charles "Cully" Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, brought up the issue, cited many of the law firms by name and suggested that corporate CEOs "make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms."

Wait. I thought that this was America, where everyone--even a prisoner detained at Guatanamo--had the right to a lawyer and a fair trial. USA Today notes that Stimson himself is a lawyer, which begs the question: which law school awarded him his J.D.? This fair trial stuff is common knowledge, right?

Perhaps a few facts need to be called to Stimson's attention.

While holding hundreds of prisoners in Kafkaesque legal limbo at the camp, the U.S. government has transferred or released about 380. After labeling prisoners the "worst of the worst," it has admitted that some pose no long-term threat. No doubt, defense lawyers helped bring about some of those just releases.

But Stimson, a lawyer who should know better, doesn't seem much bothered by facts. In his interview with Federal News Radio, he suggested darkly that some of the firms "are receiving monies from who knows where, and I'd be curious to have them explain that."

Oh, really?

According to a spokesman for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which recruited the lawyers, the firms are donating their time and expenses; one firm representing Kuwaiti detainees has received some payment and donated it to 9/11 charities.


Perhaps Charles Stimson could explain why he hates America.