Trial Lead Balloon

Although it is still not backing off from efforts to vilify the courageous men and women who have undertaken representation of the so-called “worst of the worst” now held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (around half of whom have already been released, and over 80 of the 380 or so left have been declared completely innocent by the military itself, and only ten of whom have ever been charged with anything)… the Justice Department withdrew its demands to limit attorneys to three visits with their clients.
In some sense, I take this as a personal affront, on any number of levels. First, I consider it an insult to the honor of the Department of Justice, at which I started my own career, that it is now called upon by a feckless and most un-American Government who has perverted the impartial administration of justice into a partisan political tool to now advocate for the instruments of tyranny. Second, I consider it an insult as a member of the legal profession that other attorneys who have undertaken the most honorable and noble aspect of the profession, to wit, the representation of the world’s most unpopular, are being vilified on an ongoing basis on the direction of Karl Rove, a dishonorable waste of human life (and let’s face it: this is just a continuation of the White House orchestrated Cully Stimson attacks started at the beginning of the year), as if attorneys who can’t even take notes without having them reviewed in “a secure facility”, and are completely run around by the military, and come to GTMO at all only at the absolute discretion of the military, can possibly be “a security risk”. And finally, I consider the efforts to prevent attorneys from visiting their GTMO detained clients an insult almost personally directed at me. Quite frankly, attorneys representing Guantanamo detainees are just about the only window to our government’s activities there, and I have not been the least bit reticent about shouting from that window, nor do I intend to be.
The fact is, as bad as things are at GTMO (and they are bad), things are worse at our government’s other detention operations elsewhere, about which we know less, if anything. And this is precisely because the GTMO attorneys at least provide a window… a window that the government tried to slam shut.
Readers here know damned well that this is an underused window, at least in our so-called regular media, although this window remains available, and God damn it, I’m going to keep tapping at it, and continue seeing what answers we can get from it; interested readers can start with my recent interview with Brent Mickum and look at the other interviews linked to at the end of that post.
And all we can do is hope that the public relations pressure continues to build and continues to force the Government to retreat on these issues… pressure from Congressional hearings, to lobbying efforts, to you and I plain old just getting the damned word out and public attention focused on this (and boys and girls, let me tell you, they are watching us in the Muslim world… we sure as hell got public attention focused on this there, even as stateside we obsess over the latest t.v. bread and circuses singing or dancing contests, or gays, or immigrants, or whatever the powerful want us to obsess over… except, of course, for their own abuses of power.)
This present apparent retreat on lawyers’ restrictions is not to be considered a victory in the Asymmetrical War being waged against the rule of law and American values by our so-called Government… this is simply a change in tactics, after tremendous pressure, largely from the legal profession itself (including from Barry Kamins, the President of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.)
We all must realize that each day that Guantanamo and Bagram and Kandahar and Diego Garcia and floating prisons and ghost prisons and black prisons and every other legal black hole now operating in the world-wide American gulag archipelago continue to operate is a day where those who we fear most have the upper hand in winning hearts and minds.
And we’ve got to make sure that enough other people realize it too to make things start happening, in the hope against hope that it is not too late to regain our moral authority, without which we will not– and cannot– ever hope to win whatever it is we’re supposed to be winning in “the global war on terror.”