‘WSJ’ and Top Official Suggest Top Lawyers Should Refuse to Represent Terrorists

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By: E&P Staff

While much attention is now directed at a senior Pentagon official for suggesting that top American lawyers should not be defending terrorists, this same sentiment appeared on Friday on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

The official, Charles D. Stimson, who is in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism, said in a radio interview on Thursday that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation?s top firms were representing prisoners at Guant?namo. He added that the firms? corporate clients should consider ending their business ties to the firms.

The New York Times noted on Saturday that the comments “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.”

Stimson is an attorney himself.

?This is prejudicial to the administration of justice,? Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University and an authority on legal ethics, told the Times. ?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.?

But as the Times observes, “The same point appeared Friday on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, where Robert L. Pollock, a member of the newspaper?s editorial board, cited the list of law firms and quoted an unnamed ‘senior U.S. official’ as saying, ‘Corporate C.E.O.?s seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists.’?

In his radio interview, 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 Freedom of Information Act request had been submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for names of lawyers and law firms representing Guant?namo detainees in federal court cases.

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