But what's gone largely missing in the story is comparison with a similar situation that occurred during the George W. Bush administration. A top Pentagon official, Charles "Cully" Stimson, commented in a radio interview that he found it "shocking" that a number of U.S. law firms had represented Guantanamo Bay detainees. Stimson also suggested that some of the firms were not forthcoming about who was paying for the representation, telling Federal News Radio the firms should be pressed on the matter. "Some will maintain they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, that they're doing it pro bono, and I suspect they are; others are receiving monies from who knows where, and I'd be curious to have them explain that."
Just as the current attacks by Keep America Safe have sparked bipartisan criticism, Stimson's January 2007 comments drew sharp critiques across the political spectrum. As noted by The Huffington Post's Sam Stein, Ted Olson, former solicitor general during the Bush administration and a member of the Federalist Society's Board of Visitors, co-authored with then-Georgetown law school professor Neal Katyal an article for Legal Times blasting Stimson's comments. (About a month after his attacks on the law firms, Stimson resigned his Pentagon post.)
Olson (pictured) and Katyal wrote:
The ethos of the bar is built on the idea that lawyers will represent both the popular and the unpopular, so that everyone has access to justice. Despite the horrible Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, this is still proudly held as a basic tenet of our profession.
When government officials are called 'war criminals' and when public-interest lawyers are called 'terrorist huggers,' it not only cheapens the discourse, it scrambles the dialogue. The best solutions to these difficult problems will emerge only when the best advocates, backed by weighty resources, bring their talents to bear. And the heavy work of creating solutions for these complicated issues can only move forward when the name-calling ceases.