After "Cully" Sullies, he Quits-- and Good Riddance

The best news of the week comes near its very end. Charles "Cully' Stimson, the out-of-line Bush administration lawyer who outrageously sullied detainee defense attorneys and their law firms earlier this month, resigned from his post today as deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs. Good riddance.

There is no place in government for people with the views Stimson expressed during an interview for Federal News Radio a few weeks. And Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, agrees. This afternoon he issued this comment to me following word of Stimson's resignation: "This was the right decision," Sen. Leahy said in an email.. "Mr. Stimson undermined his own effectiveness with his reprehensible comments that showed a lack of commitment to foundational principles of our law and legal system."

When Stimson's remarks first came out, I wrote about it for the Other lawyers, journalists and politicians soon followed. We all said essentially the same thing: that the men and women who have courageously volunteered to represent the Guantanamo Bay detainees deserve our praise, not our scorn, and the law firms who support these individuals deserve our thanks, not our retribution.

How and why Stimson, an experienced lawyer, would have or could have strayed so far from this bedrock principle of law is beyond me. And how and why he could have achieved the status he did within the administration is a question for the ages. All that matters now is that he is gone, off the public dole and no longer representing us all in the name of fighting the legal war on terror. And if and when he decides to try to enter private practice again, I hope that any law firm to which he applies treats him with the same disdain and contempt with which he tainted the good and decent men all over the country who have decided, for their own sake and for the sake of the rule of law, to represent the lowest of the low.

By Andrew Cohen |  February 2, 2007; 4:16 PM ET
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I'm not sure to be glad or merely apathetic to Mr. Stimson's resignation. At least it proves he (or the nation) still has some conscience. But I think the real culprit is the natural human tendency to classify people as Good or Bad, BEFORE they've gone to court, and then reward or punish them accordingly. That means that for every outspoken Sullied Cully, there are a million other human beings who still think of the detainees as Indefensible. We create laws to hemn in that tendency. One of these is habeas corpus. As long as we suspend the rule of law, man's innate idiocy will go unchecked. So instead of rejoicing over Stimson's resignation, let's get off our butts and do something. Go to and email your representatives to demand that they defend habeas corpus. After all, you could be the next Indefensible.

Posted by: Sara Badaracco | February 2, 2007 07:15 PM

Why refer to the people in Guantanamo as "the lowest of the low?" One reason they are (or should be) entitled to a strong defense is that they MIGHT be innocent. In general, the US government has very mixed track record in gathering intelligence & in understanding Arabic or mid-Asian cultures or languages. Think of how Chalabi snookered the Bush administration. In Afghanistan, people were paid for each "terrorist" they turned over to the US -- who is to say that those captured as a result were genuinely guilty of anything? How do we know that the terrorists weren't actually getting paid to dispatch their enemies to us? & what about cases such as that of Maher Arar -- not a prisoner in Guantanamo, but still groundlessly tortured at the behest of the American government. Most Americans now recognize that the Bush administration has consistently lied about security issues to achieve political ends - - why assume they were somehow only honest about who they captured at Guantanomo?
Defending prisoners is not just an abstract action in favor of justice; it can serve a real & tangible role in freeing the genuinely innocent.

Posted by: C. E. Jackson | February 3, 2007 09:28 AM

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