Also at Kos.
As the fifth anniversary (January 13) of the use of the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay as a holding facility for prisoners of our "war on terror" approached, the Rovewellian noise generator kicked into high gear in response to the anticipated global protests demanding that the prison be shut down.
I never thought anything could motivate me to come out in defense of lawyers, but elements of the unscrupulous right just gave me all the provocation I need to violate my own principles.
I hate being manipulated like that.
Kill All the (Wrong Kinds) of Lawyers
Neil A. Lewis of the New York Times reveals that conservative media figures and a senior Department of Defense official have been intimidating attorneys who represent detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
In a radio interview last Thursday, Charles D. Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, expressed dismay that attorneys at the nation's top law firms were representing prisoners being detained in Cuba, and suggested that the firms' corporate clients should terminate their business ties. Stimson named 12 of the law firms involved on air.
Friday, Robert L. Pollock of the Wall Street Journal editorial board published the names of the law offices in an op-ed piece and quoted a "senior U.S. official" as saying “Corporate C.E.O.s seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists.”
The list of law firms involved in the Guantanamo issue came to light as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by conservative talk show host and sometime MSNBC anchor/commentator Monica Crowley.
In his radio interview, Mr. Stimson admitted that some of the attorneys defending Guantanamo detainees might be contributing their time and talents on a pro bono basis, but that "others are receiving moneys from who knows where, and I’d be curious to have them explain that.” He also said, “I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms."
I find it interesting that Mr. Stimson, who was a Navy lawyer, would choose to use that kind of language. We really have no way of knowing which (if any) of the Guantanamo detainees are actually "terrorists," and his clear implication is that some attorneys representing the detainees are being paid by terrorist groups. When he gets a lawsuit slapped upside his noggin, I hope for his sake that he has the good sense to hire a better lawyer than he is.
I'll also be curious to discover who pays his legal fees.
A senior Pentagon official told NYT's Lewis that Stimson's comments “…do not represent the views of the Defense Department or the thinking of its leadership.” It's interesting, though, that Stimson made his comments on Federal News Radio, a D.C. based station aimed at an audience of government employees.
And it's funny how a government agency could let a government employee broadcast a message on a government propaganda outlet and then disavow what he said, huh?
No, I don't think Stimson has to fear for his financial future; but I'd like to have been in the room to see the look on his face when he drew the short straw.
Piled Higher and Deeper
In a rant on MSNBC Friday, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan insisted the Guantanamo detainees weren't entitled to rights or due process because they are "prisoners of war." He used the "prisoners of war" term repeatedly.
From the outset, the Bush administration insisted that the detainees at Guantanamo were not "prisoners of war" but rather "unlawful combatants," and as such were not entitled to any of the rights and protections included in the Geneva Convention, the United Nations Convention against Torture or the laws and Constitution of the United States.
Surely Pat Buchanan knows that. Maybe he doesn't. But whether he's deliberately lying or unforgivably ignorant, he's wittingly or unwittingly part of the malignant right's misinformation/disinformation/propaganda/blackmail/extortion campaign, one that by all appearances is designed to keep the Bush administration's high crimes and misdemeanors from coming to light.
If irony were still alive and with us, it would chuckle that neo-fascist choir is banging its anvils in attacks on the kinds of lawyers who insist on enforcing the rule of law in an effort to protect the kinds of lawyers--like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales--who insist that when it comes to anything Mr. Bush does, the rule of law is "quaint" and "obsolete."
And if shame still existed, the likes of Charles Stimson, Robert Pollock, Monica Crowley and Pat Buchanan would take their money/retirements, and go home, and shove a cork in their pie holes.
Lamentably, irony and shame, rule of law, checks and balances and separation of powers, "inalienable" individual rights, enlightened reason, transparency in government and a host of other supposed American values are deader than the bolt lock on your front door.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.