In a radio interview last week, Charles "Cully" Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, said that companies should consider boycotting major law firms that represent suspected terrorists being held at Guantanamo Bay. He also suggested that some of these firms are receiving money for this work from unknown and suspicious sources.
Let's get one thing out of the way: attacking these firms for their pro bono representation of criminal defendants is so stupid and irresponsible that even the Pentagon (not known for going to the mat for detainee rights) has disavowed Stimson's comments. A spokesman said today that Stimson's words "do not represent the views of the Department of Defense or the thinking of its leadership [above the deputy assistant secretary level, at least]."
Stimson told Federal News Radio that he found it "shocking" that lawyers at the nation's top firms were defending the detainees, and that he foresaw a boycott. "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," he said. (He left out the word "accused" in front of "terrorists" in order to save time, probably.)
Asked why he thought the firms were doing this, he said he wasn't sure. "It's not clear, is it? Some will maintain that they're doing it out of the goodness of their heart -- that they're doing it pro bono, and I suspect they are," he said. (Note: they are.) "Others are receiving monies from who knows where and I'd be curious to have them explain that." He discounted reports of mistreatment and false accusations as "little protests" "drummed up" by liberal groups and media outlets.
Among the left-wing America-hating drug-influenced lawyers involved with this effort are members of hippie firms like Covington & Burling; Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw; Blank Rome; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; and Shearman & Sterling, all firms that are so hard up for cash that they'd have to represent anybody who came calling. These and several other firms were named in a recent piece in the conservative National Review, which might be where Stimson got this idea. What drives these attorneys to do pro bono work for the accused? "While some attorneys seem driven by a leftish quest for 'social justice,'" said the Review, "others seem intoxicated by a volatile blend of sentimentalism and naivete." Yes, that's just how I would describe most of the big-firm partners I've met. It's certainly how they've always acted at my performance evaluations.
The Review also pointed out that Mayer, Brown represents the parent of United Airlines, and (just in case anyone had forgotten) also reminded readers that two of United's planes were hijacked on September 11. Conflict of interest? Hm. It did not say whether any of Mayer, Brown's detainee clients, or any of the 395 detainees currently held at Gitmo (380 others have been transferred or released without any charges) actually had anything to do with 9/11, whether they are even accused of having something to do with it, or when any of them will be put on trial so the accusations (if any) can be proven or not proven.
But then these are the kind of nitpicky details that only show I'm a terrorist-lover.