While the Bush administration may finally have let NOAA confirm what we already knew about global warming, they haven't exactly embraced professional freedom yet: The New York Times recounts how the "senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism" gave a radio interview suggesting that corporations should remove their business from lawyers doing pro bono work for detainees:

In his radio interview, Mr. Stimson said: "I think the news story that you’re really going to start seeing in the next couple of weeks is this: As a result of a FOIA request through a major news organization, somebody asked, ‘Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there?’ and you know what, it’s shocking." The F.O.I.A. reference was to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for the names of all the lawyers and law firms representing Guantánamo detainees in federal court cases.

Mr. Stimson, who is himself a lawyer, then went on to name more than a dozen of the firms listed on the 14-page report provided to Ms. Crowley, describing them as "the major law firms in this country." He said, "I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out."

Yes, how shocking that the detainees the Bush administration would rather we forget they are brutally mistreating and denying basic legal protections (even when they are not outright torturing them) would receive competent legal representation.

But it doesn't end there.  Stimson didn't just take a story prepared by a conservative radio host and look forward to further hostile coverage of lawyers doing pro bono work for detainees.  He didn't just stop with suggesting that those law firms should lose corporate business.  He also oh-so-delicately implied that they were being paid by terrorists:

When asked in the radio interview who was paying for the legal representation, Mr. Stimson replied: "It’s not clear, is it? Some will maintain that they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, that they’re doing it pro bono, and I suspect they are; others are receiving moneys from who knows where, and I’d be curious to have them explain that."

I suspect it's not surprising that Mr. Stimson would view the notion of anyone doing anything out of the goodness of their heart with suspicion, since legal ethics and basic decency appear to be foreign notions to him.  For the record, the article notes that none of the lawyers working with the Center for Constitutional Rights is being paid, and that some who have been given money by the families of prisoners have donated it to September 11-related charities.

According to the article, higher-ups in the administration attempted to distance themselves from these statements, but they have yet to issue any official repudiation.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 02:17 PM PST.

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