So this week, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, one Charles D. Stimson, went on the radio and said, out loud, that “he was dismayed that the lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing the detainees of Guantanamo Bay, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.” (NYT, 1/13/2007, p.1)
Further, he named the firms and suggested the CEOs of companies doing business with them should make it clear that the law firms had to choose between their custom and “defending terrorists.”
And further, he insinuated that these lawyers were not representing the detainees pro bono, but were being paid by sources that he couldn’t identify but thought ought to be looked into, i.e., shady and sinister dealings, obviously with Al Qaeda itself.
We will now pause for the torrent of outrage from conservatives, who of course believe that this nation’s legal foundation depends absolutely on free trials with adequate legal representation for all.
Well, maybe a peep about how individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?
Well, certainly the White House and Justice Department expressed their concern, right?
Well, surely the man was fired, right?
We all know what’s happening, of course. Stimson says these ugly, outrageous things, and the White House can sit back and pretend to be shocked, shocked that anyone could think they are not playing fair with the detainees at Gitmo. Meanwhile, the right wing noise machine can amplify the story (it’s already begun), and the Justice Department can sit back and wait for the GOP’s major contributors to threaten the law firms with the loss of their business, and with any luck at all (and absolutely no coverage on the issue by the major networks), the poor schmucks at Gitmo will find themselves without legal representation whatsoever.
Let’s be clear: it may be that some of the detainees are the desperate terrorists the current administration says they are. But you know what? If we are who we say we are, then they still get a fair trial. That’s America. Why does the Bush administration hate America?