Carol Platt Liebau: Not Entitled to an Opinion?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Not Entitled to an Opinion?

Criticism is raining down on the senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism, Charles Stimson, because he criticized some of the white-shoe law firms using their considerable resources to represent detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

'Scuse me, but isn't he entitled to his opinion? It does seem as though Cleary, Gottlieb and Shearman and Sterling (the only two firms mentioned in the story) could find some injustices a little closer to home, without working simply to free people who are likely to be enemies of their country.

Do they have a right to do it? Yes, and neither Mr. Stimson nor anyone else has threatened them with prosecution or any other penalty. If he thinks that corporate clients should think about indirectly subsidizing the defense of America's enemies (which they're doing by paying firms that provide pro bono defense to suspected terrorists), it strikes me that he's a got a point, and he's entitled to make it.

So far, it's not as though these big, important firms have faced any backlash from representing these folks -- like they doubtless would if they represented, say, people accused of bombing abortion clinics. Quite the contrary; as The New York Times puts it, The role of major law firms agreeing to take on the cases of Guantánamo prisoners challenging their detentions in federal courts has hardly been a secret and has been the subject of many news articles that have generally cast their efforts in a favorable light. .

Indeed. That's why it's remarkable that The Times ostentatiously refuses to provide the names of all the law firms engaging in this activity. It's perfectly OK to release information about the warrantless wiretapping and other constitutional secret programs designed to catch terrorists -- but release the names of the firms defending terrorist detainees? Now that apparently would be wrong, in the Times' view.

It's almost enough to make you wonder who they're rooting for.

10 Comments:

Blogger stackja1945 said...

"It's almost enough to make you wonder who they're rooting for."
One guess. AQ?

1:47 PM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

Well I suppose it's simply the case of the media exposing potential law breaking by the government.

Warrentless wiretapping is wrong. So is detaining suspects without a trial or access to a lawyer.

Makes sense to me.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Mithras said...

It's perfectly OK to release information about the warrantless wiretapping and other constitutional secret programs designed to catch terrorists -- but release the names of the firms defending terrorist detainees? Now that apparently would be wrong, in the Times' view.

Perhaps you're confused. The warrantless wiretapping is not constitutional - it violates the Fourth Amendment. And tt's not the release of firm names that is the issue, since the firms providing pro bono had been announced long before. It was a senior Pentagon lawyer calling for those firms to be economically punished that was the problem. I'm happy to clear that up for you.

It's almost enough to make you wonder who they're rooting for.

Not who, what. They're rooting for the U.S. constitution. What are you rooting for?

-Mithras

3:38 PM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

What next Carol, horse heads appearing in lawyer's beds? Apparently, Charles "Cully" Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, thinks these trials should be rigged by intimidating law firms.

6:57 AM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

I'm confused. When has any country given enemy combatants civil rights? Traditionally when a person is taken from the battlefield, that person is held captive until the war is over. Given the unusual nature of this war, perhaps a redefinition of the term battlefield is in order.

Oh yes, the mythical Geneva Convention. Why is it that we are the ones that must adhere to its vagueries? Lets see the list of our enemies in the last few decades: Germany, Japan, North Korea, China, Vietnam, Iraq -- have ANY of then ever signed or subscribed to the Geneva convention?

I personally blame two men - Truman and Nixon. Truman for getting in a snit with MacArthur and deciding that Measured Response was the way to go. I blame Nixon for not bringing Jane Fonda, John Kerry and Walter Kronkite to trial for treason.

The only way to win a war is to convince the enemy that you are more ruthless than they are! In the long run, that is a far more humane method.

Ther are over 58,000 names on a wall in DC, when do they get their voice?

3:13 PM  
Blogger One Salient Oversight said...

Flom,

How do you know that these people in Gitmo are enemy combatants? They may just be civilians who got picked up along the way.

In order for justice to be served correctly, there needs to be a fair trial. Who cares whether they fit into a certain, narrowly defined criteria? If we are civilised people we will treat them fairly. If we don't then we become like the enemy.

We can't forsake our values in order to defend them. I'm sure 58,000 is too high a price to pay to realise that.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

It's the price of war, get over it!

11:10 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

"...I'm sure 58,000 is too high a price to pay to realise that."

How about WW2? Almost half a million soldiers gave their lives for the freedom that you and I enjoy, was that too high of a price?

11:13 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

OSO,

It's my understanding that they've weeded out most, if not all who they could determine shouldn't be there. If those remaining include some who leave doubt, that's unfortunate, but just as we can't be perfectly certain that they all deserve to be there, we can't chance that we might let go one who should. It's also my understanding that some of the released have ended up back on the battlefield. We can't be blamed that the enemy doesn't wear uniforms. It's unfortunate, but I'm cool with the situation if it means my fellow citizens and our soldiers are safer.

I'd also like to submit that the wiretapping that the admin is actually using is not aimed at citizens in general, but suspects. I don't believe that it is unConstitutional to wiretap an enemy in wartime. We aren't talking drug dealers here. So the issue of whether Bush is out of line with his intel gathering techniques is not clear. I have faith that his intentions are honorable and these strategies will be dropped should we prevail in the war.

11:44 PM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

OSO - Perhaps

War is a dirty nasty business. Innocent people have ALWAYS been hurt and killed.

We treat them well, we DO release them when it is found that they should be released

If we don't fight, and fight with all of our might, then that is when our rights are in danger.

8:12 AM  

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