How dare anyone defend a terrorism detainee?

Friday, January 12, 2007 at 06:10 PM

Proving once again that modern public officials tend to be a whole lot more partisan, zealous, and short sighted than public officials from our distant past, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs actually implied that American businesses could and should boycott law firms who represent people held in detention because they are accused of being terrorists.

From a McClatchy Newspapers report:

A Defense Department official has stirred up a maelstrom in the American legal community by calling on U.S. corporations to boycott law firms whose attorneys represent suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Speaking to a morning radio talk show Thursday, Cully Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, rattled off a list of some of the most prestigious law firms in the nation.

Each apparently has attorneys providing pro bono, or no-charge, legal representation to captives at the U.S. Navy base, where the Bush administration is holding some 395 men and teens as so-called enemy combatants.

"I think quite honestly when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists that hit their bottom line in 2001," he said, "those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.

"It's shocking," said Stimson, 43, a former federal attorney and Navy lawyer. "The major law firms in this country . . . are out there representing detainees."

By late Friday, major U.S. legal advocacy groups condemned his remarks - and a senior defense official distanced the Pentagon from them as well.

"Mr. Cully Stimson's comments in a recent media interview about law firms representing Guantanamo detainees do not represent the views of the Defense Department or the thinking of its leadership," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

Guess Mr. Stimson thinks the Boston business establishment should have boycotted John Adams for his "shocking" decision to represent the British soldiers accused of needlessly killing several civilians in the Boston Massacre.

The saddest part? Stimson has a law degree, has taught law, and has served as a prosecutor in several venues.

Update [2007-2-3 17:32:52 by Lee Russ]:It took a while, but the delightful Mr. Stimson has now resigned [] because of the furor's "interference with his duties."