Opposing Counsel

Somewhere in Iraq, perhaps at this very moment, an American soldier is shooting his weapon in the defense of freedom and justice. Back in the United States, earlier in the week, a senior Pentagon official was shooting off his mouth and attacking freedom and justice. It hardly seems right.

From the New York Times:

Official Attacks Top Law Firms Over Detainees

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.

“This is prejudicial to the administration of justice,� said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University and an authority on legal ethics. “It’s possible that lawyers willing to undertake what has been long viewed as an admirable chore will decline to do so for fear of antagonizing important clients.

“We have a senior government official suggesting that representing these people somehow compromises American interests, and he even names the firms, giving a target to corporate America.� [full text]

UPDATE: Talk Left has additional coverage of this story here.