Pentagon Official Who Criticized Detainee Lawyers Quits

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Saturday, February 3, 2007

A senior Pentagon official resigned yesterday, the Defense Department announced, three weeks after criticizing lawyers who represent terrorism suspects.

Charles "Cully" Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, called it "shocking" that major U.S. law firms represented Guantanamo Bay detainees free of charge and said they would likely suffer financially after their corporate clients learned of the work.

"I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms," Stimson said in a Jan. 11 interview on Federal News Radio.

The legal community was outraged by his comments. Stimson also suggested that some lawyers were being untruthful about doing the work free of charge and instead were "receiving moneys from who-knows-where."

Stimson believed that the controversy "hampered his ability to be effective in this position," department spokesman Bryan Whitman said. He stressed that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates did not ask him to resign.

Stimson had been in his post since January 2006. He publicly apologized several days after the radio interview, saying his comments did not reflect his values and that he firmly believes in the principles of the U.S. legal system.

The American Civil Liberties Union national legal director, Steven R. Shapiro, told Reuters yesterday that he feared Stimson's original remarks represented Bush administration opposition to due process for the detainees.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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