Yesterday’s Thoughts

January 12, 2007

How can we have democracy in Iraq

If we can’t have democracy in the US?

Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs is complaining about the law firms that are representing, or attempting to represent Guantánamo detainees. According to the
New York Times, Mr. Stimson appeared on Federal News Radio earlier this week questioning the role of lawyers from almost 150 US firms in providing legal representation to detainees and suggesting that the corporate CEO who also employee these firms should reconsider. “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.”

What’s wrong with Stimson’s argument?

Well first off he appears unable to recognize that few to none of those detained at Guantánamo are guilty of anything, much less being guilty of attacking the US in 2001. The administration continues to maintain this fiction that everyone detained at Guantánamo, is in fact guilty, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. By July of 2005, 175 detainees had been found to not be enemy combatants, by the government’s own findings.

Secondly, if these detainees are guilty, there is only one was to establish this fact. A legitimate trial, with established rules of evidence and adequate legal representation. There is no other way. These attorneys must be present to establish Mr. Stimson’s claims.

Finally, Mr. Stimson, despite being an attorney in the Virginia bar doesn’t seem to understand democracy. The right to a fair trial by your peers is a fundamental tenet of democracy going back to the Magna Carta. If Mr. Stimson, as a representative of the US Defense Department, doesn’t understand the most basic aspects of democracy, how is that same Defense Department going to export democracy to Iraq?

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