John Adams and Charles "Cully" Stimson
Military law expert Donald G. Rehkoff, for whom I have the utmost respect, being familiar with his work, had this to say on a message board today about Charles "Cully" Stimson, the Bush deputy for detainee affairs who made reprehensible comments about lawyers who represent the detainees. (He has graciously given me permission to reprint it.)
First, he reminds us of President John Adams, quoting from Key Figures in Public Trials:
John Adams, in his old age, called his defense of British soldiers in 1770 "one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country." That's quite a statement, coming as it does from perhaps the most underappreciated great man in American history.
The day after British soldiers mortally wounded five Americans on a cobbled square in Boston, thirty-four-year-old Adams was visited in his office near the stairs of the Town Office by a Boston merchant , James Forest. "With tears streaming from his eyes" (according to the recollection of Adams), Forest asked Adams to defend the soldiers and their captain, Thomas
Adams understood that taking the case would not only subject him to criticism, but might jeopardize his legal practice or even risk the safety of himself and his family. But Adams believed deeply that every person deserved a defense, and he took on the case without hesitation. For his efforts, he would receive the modest sum of eighteen guineas.
As for consequences to Stimson, Don writes:
Stimson's "advertised" also as being a Navy Reserve JAG. As an officer, he's also taken an "oath" very similar to the one all attorneys take, "to support and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic." In addition to his ethical delicts, he has conducted himself in a manner "unbecoming an officer and a gentleman," a crime under 10 USC 933. He is unworthy of being an officer as well.
The Pentagon already is distancing itself from Stimson:
"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.
Cully is but one cog in the Administration's wheel of injustice at Guantanamo. Let's try to keep our eye on the larger issue -- that for five years, the Bush Administration has kept people imprisoned without a trial and without a reliable basis to believe that the vast majority of them are terrorists.
Just as bad, the Bush Administration has refused, despite Supreme Court law to the contrary, to allow the detainees to raise challenges in our federal courts. It pushed Congress to pass a law obliterating habeas corpus for the detainees.
These are the larger issues behind Cully's comments. Regardless of what happens to him, the Administration must not be let off the hook for its unfair, unjust and un-American treatment of the detainees.
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