Pentagon official calls for assault on Constitution

January 13, 2007

I used to marvel at the irony of attending Republican conventions in states and counties across the nation, where ceremonies would open with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag, and the nation, ideals and government it stands for, and where speaker after speaker would then assault every aspect of that same nation and government. In the Vietnam era and a decade afterward, frequently these speeches would include rhetorical questions like, “Do we really need a First Amendment?” in reference to protestors, or the speech of anyone that the speaker found disagreeable.

This is a new height: The New York Times reports this morning that a top Pentagon official is bothered that lawyers defend prisoners in the U.S., especially prisoners at Guantanamo Bay — somehow forgetting that lawyers are obligated to do such things by their ethical canons, their state laws and state licensing rules, and by the Constitution. Then he urges corporations who use those same lawyers to stop paying them.

Is this a joke, or can someone who has sworn to uphold the Constitution actually be so clueless?

The senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism said in an interview this week that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.

The comments by Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, produced an instant torrent of anger from lawyers, legal ethics specialists and bar association officials, who said Friday that his comments were repellent and displayed an ignorance of the duties of lawyers to represent people in legal trouble.

The Wall Street Journal joined in the assault on the Constitution in an editorial, according to the news story.

Stanley Kubrick is dead, or I’d think that this was just a review of a Stanley Kubrick follow-up to Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.

Any corporation official who fires the company’s attorneys for representing Guantanamo Bay detainees should be fired himself — he’s acting contrary to the interests of his stockholders in getting rid of the best legal team he could hire.

How do such barbarians an anti-American people get to be officials in the Pentagon, and editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal?

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