Saturday, January 20, 2007

First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Lawyers

This famous line from Henry VI was not a criticism of lawyers; it was actually in praise of attorneys. The quote is expresses the speakers desire to eliminate impediments to a revolution – they need to get rid of the lawyers in order to overthrow the government.

Last week, a Bush Administration Official expressed his own concerns about lawyers getting in the way of attempts to overthrow our constitution. Shakespeare understood the importance of attorneys in a free and open society. One has to wonder why the current Administration does not.

In a radio interview last week, Charles Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, in his best insurgent voice, once again presented an Administration attack on the constitution, this time the right to counsel. However, he also attacked attorneys themselves, saying that those who are representing Guantánamo Bay detainees should not be doing so, urging those attorney’s paying clients to stop using their services. He cited many of the law firms by name and suggested that corporate CEOs "make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms." Not content with that beaut, he then suggested that the attorneys were receiving money from terrorists, suggesting that some of the firms "are receiving monies from who knows where, and I'd be curious to have them explain that."

Enough is enough. Regardless of your views on the detention of suspected terrorists, and despite your frustration at the war on terror, a basic tenant of our constitution, our system of justice, and our entire way of life is the right to counsel, the right to confront your accuser, the right to a speedy and fair trial. If we lose those rights, we become exactly what we are supposedly fighting.

On Wednesday, Mr. Stimson apologized. Sort of. He was sorry if his comments “left the impression” that he was attacking the attorneys. What? That is exactly what he did. He attacked attorneys who are defending the constitution. And this from the man who is in charge of policy regarding the detainees?

This Administration has avoided the constitution on so many levels, and has for the most part gotten away with it, that they are now flat out brazen in their contempt for the constitution and our entire democratic government.

I understand that those pesky lawyers keep getting in the way, but those pesky lawyers are protecting the constitution, and our entire way of life.

The terrorists are trying to destroy our way of life. Do we really need our government doing the same thing?
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