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The intemperate remarks by Charles D. “Cully” Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, in an interview on Jan. 11 have drawn justifiable criticism and outrage from practicing lawyers, law professors, bar association officials and editorial boards. Stimson suggested that corporate clients of law firms representing prisoners at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, might want to cut their ties with these firms: “I think, quite honestly, [that] corporate CEOs . . . are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.” His attempt to have law firms blacklisted flies in the face of the principle that every defendant deserves representation and is presumed innocent, as well as the fact that lawyers do not embody their clients’ political or religious beliefs. Stimson relied on a Freedom of Information Act report to name several law firms that have represented Guant�namo prisoners. But the identity of these firms was hardly a secret. In fact, one of them, Seattle’s Perkins Coie, was celebrated in our Jan. 1 issue as a recipient of one of our pro bono awards. Three lawyers at the firm were part of the team representing Salim Hamdan in his challenge to the authority of a military commission to try him. That challenge, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, was ultimately successful at the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Military Commissions Act was subsequently enacted to overturn the holding and strip him and other detainees of habeas corpus rights. Although Stimson wrote an apology, published in the Washington Post on Jan. 17, he did not retract his insinuation that some firms are not doing the work pro bono, but are “receiving moneys from who knows where.” As we reported, Perkins Coie devoted 6,223 pro bono hours to the case, the equivalent of $1.6 million in billable hours. Nor did Stimson retract his call for a corporate boycott of law firms representing these prisoners. Finally, his apology does not mitigate the viewpoint of this administration, codified in the Military Commissions Act, that Guant�namo detainees should be denied the habeas corpus right to challenge the basis of their imprisonment. In cases involving free speech, free exercise of religion and criminal procedure, to name a few, our history has demonstrated that unpopular clients have often played a role in expanding the rights of all. Unless controversial clients are allowed the right to counsel and to a fair and open proceeding, the rule of law for all is in jeopardy.

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