January 13, 2007

"Good lawyers representing the detainees is the best way to ensure that justice is done in these cases."

So said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. This came after the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, Charles D. Stimson, was wrongheaded and stupid enough to say:
"I think the news story that you’re really going to start seeing in the next couple of weeks is this: As a result of a FOIA request through a major news organization, somebody asked, ‘Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there?’ and you know what, it’s shocking." The F.O.I.A. reference was to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for the names of all the lawyers and law firms representing Guantánamo detainees in federal court cases.

Mr. Stimson, who is himself a lawyer, then went on to name more than a dozen of the firms listed on the 14-page report provided to Ms. Crowley, describing them as “the major law firms in this country.” He 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, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.”
Gonzales is obviously right, and I would like to know how Stimson could even entertain the notion that it might be acceptable to say what he did.

UPDATE: Stimson apologizes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stimson resigns (2/2/07).

28 comments:

hdhouse said...

By far the most telling phrase was "hit their bottom line in 2001".

I hope he didn't confuse that bottom line with the bottom line for the souls who's bodies hit the cement from 100 stories up.

Has he been fired yet? Why not?

vnjagvet said...

Stimson is definitely off base here, and Gonzales is clearly right.

Stimson, Gates or both need to make the essentially the same statement as Gonzales made and set official the record straight.

Irrespective of our views on the war or on the way it has been conducted, we all should be proud of the lawyers who defend these folks and the partners who allow them to do so. It is in the best traditions of the litigation bar since before the Revolution.

Indeed, one of John Adams' signal accomplishments was his defense of British Souldiers during the Boston Massacre.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I get misty when I think about Abu Gonzalez's commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

Zeb Quinn said...

Yeah I get misty when I think about Abu Gonzalez's commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

Yeah, and I get red with anger when I think about how Roosevelt/Truman ran roughshod over all those POW's rights in WWII.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how Stimson could even entertain the notion that it might be acceptable to say what he did.

The Navy forced Hamdan Lawyer Swift to retire AFTER he won in the Supreme Court.

John Yoo says torture is okay.

Cheney says that we have an imperial presidency.

Cheney/Libby out Plame for revenge against Wilson.

Cheney/Oil Execs make plans for Iraq before Iraq.

After Katrina, lucrative contracts are given to non-local, non New Orleans companies that outsource to foreign nationals.

Bush blows the Iraq reconstruction money on Halliburton and other outources and refuse to give local Iraqis a chance to rebuild. This is later acknowledged to be a mistake. Last week's plan includes more billions for Iraq, this time specifically targeting local Iraqi firms.

Bush gives crony jobs to all his buds: Harriet Miers, Brownie, PR d00d for NASA, etc.

Bush crony that heads HUD says contracts only to be given to Republican contributors.

Medicare forced to buy medicine and not allowed to negotiate over prices.

You're right Ann, I am confused as to where Stimson could ahve gotten his wacky ideas.

SMGalbraith said...

Prof. Althouse:
Hmm, you have no questions about the motives of, for example, the Center for Constitutional Rights in representing these detainees?

It's one thing to represent unpopular clients out of the principle that even the most odious deserve legal representation.

It's another to represent them because you believe that the government prosecuting them is more dangerous than the clients themselves. Even though you know the clients are indeed terrorists.

Shorter version: Not all of these fine folks are modern day Atticus Finches.

Charles Giacometti said...

Maybe Stimson is afraid the lawyers might blink some secret message back to their corporate sponsors.

David said...

I refer you to Lynn Stewart convicted of shilling for the
'Shriek' Rahman a few years ago.

Would it not be interesting to 'follow the money' to see who is funding this pursuit of justice on unarmed terrorists captured on foreign battlefields?

Maybe this is another version of Good Cop/Bad Cop only this is Good Lawyer/Bad Lawyer.

Daryl Herbert said...

Cheney/Libby out Plame for revenge against Wilson.

For someone named "reality check," you sure have a funny relationship with "reality."

The leaker was Richard Armitage, Powell's buddy from State. Not Cheney. Not Libby.

Mark said...

As a government lawyer, Stimpson's comments are inappropriate, but what's fundamentally wrong with organizing a boycott of the law firms? It happens all the time in other areas (edgy TV productions, etc.). Moreover, this isn't a criminal case in which presumption of innocence and concerns about swaying juries applies. This is a war. Law firms that voluntarily chose to defend terrorists, but get upset when someone informs their corporate clients of that fact are simply being hypocritical.

J said...

Whatever the wisdom or lack thereof of Stimson's remarks, I'm not so sure you're right on this one Ann. Most people want terrorists hunted down and killed, not arrested and prosecuted. And I suspect the proportion of the public that regards the Gitmo prisoners as deserving of due process is a lot lower than you think.

downtownlad said...

You're either with or you're against us...

Don't be naive and think that this policy isn't coming from the top. Gonzales is not disturbed by this at all.

Wickedpinto said...

I would like to know how Stimson could even entertain the notion that it might be acceptable to say what he did.

I think his attitude wasn't about a desire to refuse representation to the detainee's, but rather to note that to be a lawyer for these detainee's you don't just answer the call of representation but rather you had to be aggressive in pursuing them as clients.

seeing as how most of them don't have american relatives running around picking the lawyers, the lawyers busted their buts for the opportunity to represent terrorists/murderers and enemy's of the state.

Gonzalez is right, of course, but I think that that was prolly stimsons motivation to excercise a little bit of disgust.

Gahrie said...

reality check:

Cheney/Libby out Plame for revenge against Wilson.

You need to do a reality check, and get that case of BDS dealt with at the same time. It is now quite clear that the actual leaker was Richard Armitage.

Bush gives crony jobs to all his buds: Harriet Miers, Brownie, PR d00d for NASA, etc.

Everyone does this, and it was the left's hero, Clinton, who illegally investigated and fired the White House travel office staff so they could give that job to their cronies.

Elizabeth said...

I apologize for highjacking this thread and going completely off-topic, but may I just scream:

WHO DAT!

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're not a football fan. Sorry.

paul a'barge said...

the notion that it might be acceptable to say what he did

Apparently with lawyers, openness and fresh air and transparency are goodies to be shoved down the throats of America when she's in a war, but turn the equation around, and all of a sudden those who are actually working FOR public knowledge are fascists?

I don't get it (snark).

Look, we've seen since 9-11 lawyers and the media use freedom of information as an excuse to perform all kinds of traitorous activity. Obviously, that activity is not without consequences for someone, and the leakers and FOIA'ers have pretty much said "consequences be damned."

Well, consequences for these law firms be damned!

You can bet some folks are going to be following this list, and if there's anything in the free marketplace people can do to punish these lawyers, including publish their personal information on the web, then bring it on, baby.

Chickens. Roost. Now!

hdhouse said...

Now this truly stinks:

SMGalbraith said...
Prof. Althouse:
Hmm, you have no questions about the motives of, for example, the Center for Constitutional Rights in representing these detainees?

It's another to represent them because you believe that the government prosecuting them is more dangerous than the clients themselves. Even though you know the clients are indeed terrorists."

since when does the courtroom check "political" representation (left or right) when the judge says ok, defense, your turn? or is it that you simply don't think that some people should have counsel? and where do you "know the clients are indeed terrorists"? because mr. bush told you so? he is, as you know the only authority and you trust that chucklehead 100% beyond all reasonable doubt that these guys are guilty...so a trial isn't really necessary is it...and interestingly, would you care to cite the conviction rate for those held? just curious? 100%? 50%? 10%? 1%? >1%? NONE?

The entire business stinks to high heaven and your type who makes lipservice bigdeal talk about the sanctity of our constitution and the American Way deserve a swift kick in the ass.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do agree that Stimson crossed the line as a government employee. I think like Yoo, he was a little too zeleous for his own good - which is why the newer ethics rules have removed that as an ethical requirement.

But I have seen no indication that he has violated any ethical rule whatsoever. And, in particular, if I were to publish the exact same list for the exact same reason, I too would not be violating an ethical rule.

I do think that this is important information and it is silly to pretend like it isn't. A lot of those behind the war, and in particular, behind the continuing incarceration of terrorists at Gitmo, would like to know that their legal fees are funding this.

Before anyone gets too outraged at the idea that this might possibly mean lack of representation to the Gitmo detainees, just remember that there are millions of lawyers in this country, and tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of them willing to do this work. These firms only got to jump to the front of the line because of their connections.

The reality though is that this is all a tempest in a teapot. The big companies that hire these top tier law firms are not going to be swayed by this revelation at all. They pay the outrageous fees involved because of a perception that the firms provide that level of product, and that perception is not going to change, regardless of whom the firms chose to represent pro bono - esp. as pro bono work is really window dressing in the first place.

Tim said...

"Gonzales is obviously right, and I would like to know how Stimson could even entertain the notion that it might be acceptable to say what he did."

Actually, notwithstanding the new requirement to provide enemy combatant detainees trials, there is an ongoing, underlying policy dispute over providing detainees trials. Stimson could very easily side with not providing captured enemy combatants trials, (I am utterly unconvinced for this need of trials; 'tis war, not crime) therefore his remarks.

However, because it is now both law and policy to provide captured enemy combatants trials, he should have resigned before giving voice to his displeasure with the firms providing representation.

Roger Sweeny said...

How could Stimson say such a thing?

Answer in two letters: O.J.

Longer answer: Many, many people (including many lawyers) believe that employing high-powered lawyers does not result in "adequate representation" and "making sure justice is done." Instead, it means "getting the guilty off" and making sure justice is not done.

That is not a totally inaccurate perception.

SMGalbraith said...

since when does the courtroom check "political" representation (left or right) when the judge says ok, defense, your turn? or is it that you simply don't think that some people should have counse

Sorry, my friend, but if you concluded from my post that I, in any way suggested such a idea, then your reading skills are so poor, I'm not going to even try with you.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

WHO DAT!

Laissez les bon temps Rouler!

I miss Jazzfest, I used to go every year religiously for around 6-7 years straight.

PatCA said...

Stimson was politically wrong to say it, but I agree with him. Why should these non-citizens be afforded top of the line legal representation, better by leagues than any offered to the average criminal indigent defendant?

Follow the money. Who is picking up the tab here?

Elizabeth said...

Naked Lunch, go to nojazzfest.com and convince yourself to start making reservations for April 27-May 6. I think they announce the lineup in February.

And one more time: Who Dat! Go Saints!

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, I know. I just found a few pics from a few years back I took, check out this cute . If I make it this year, I'll drop you a note. Ann should start a NOLA thread sometime, I feel guilty about not going back, and keeping up with everything. But it's too damn sad.

The Exalted said...

SMGalbraith said...
Prof. Althouse:
Hmm, you have no questions about the motives of, for example, the Center for Constitutional Rights in representing these detainees?

It's one thing to represent unpopular clients out of the principle that even the most odious deserve legal representation.

It's another to represent them because you believe that the government prosecuting them is more dangerous than the clients themselves. Even though you know the clients are indeed terrorists.


uh, are you seriously not aware that hundreds of detainees have been released from gitmo? obviously, those people were not terrorists.

You can bet some folks are going to be following this list, and if there's anything in the free marketplace people can do to punish these lawyers, including publish their personal information on the web, then bring it on, baby.

you want to "punish" lawyers, presumably with physical violence if their home addresses are to be listed, for helping to ensure that possibly wrongfully detained people have access to the justice system to remedy their situation? like i said above, hundreds of detainees have been released. you are a sick person.

hdhouse said...

Exalted....

They are not "seriously aware" of anything. They mirror the President. Read the first sentence and make up the rest.

God save us all.

ASX said...

Richard Armitage was one of the leakers of Plame's identity.

But Karl Rove and Scooter Libby also leaked Plame's identity, according to Fitzgerald and numerous sources.

I know Rush Limbaugh has been lying about this since the Armitage disclosure was made, but you really shouldn't be getting your informatino from Rush Limbaugh.

He's not known for being terribly truthful, or reliable.