Thursday, March 11, 2010

New York Times publishes debate about the Guantánamo detainees lawyers at the Dept of Justice

The New York Times has published a lively and very instructive debate on the issues raised by the attacks on the Government for having hired former Guantánamo detainees lawyers for the Dept of Justice. The debate includes short Op-ed pieces by the very prominent authors: Alan M. Dershowitz (Harvard Law School), Stephen Gillers (N.Y.U. School of Law), Benjamin Wittes(Brookings Institution), Andrew C. McCarthy (legal affairs editor at National Review), Matthew Waxman (Columbia Law School), Kenneth Anderson law professor, American University. All the pieces can be found here.

You should read all of them, but in my humble opinion, the more interesting pieces are those by Waxman (on the side that criticizes the attacks on the government and the lawyers) and the one by Wittes (which defends that attacks).

Waxman states, in part, something I agree with - as I tried to, not so eloquently, suggest in my original post a few days ago: " If our counter-terrorism detention and prosecution policy is going to succeed in the long-term, it will be in part because of advocacy for the rights of terrorism suspects and adherence to constitutional and international legal standards, not despite it. For example, to promote cooperation from our international allies and partners — law enforcement, detention policy and other forms of cooperation — the legal processes involved must be viewed as legitimate. Zealous legal representation is critical to that legitimacy. Portraying legal advocacy for detainees as contrary to national security interests is short-sighted and a one-dimensional perspective of a complex set of issues, viewing law as a constraint on American power rather than often a source of it." Read his comment here.

McCarthy replies by stating, in part: "Members of any other profession or institution would be indicted for coming to the enemy’s aid during wartime. Lawyers not only demand immunity from the ordinary duties of citizenship, but they insist that you admire them, or, at the very least, regard them as above criticism for volunteering their services to those trying to kill Americans. Unlike criminals, war prisoners aren’t entitled to lawyers. This is a ludicrous concept, so the profession has to engage in serial deceptions to sell it. Most prominent among these is the assertion that every one, no matter how unpopular, is entitled to counsel. Nonsense." Read his comment here.

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