(Photo of home plate at dusk via PartsNPieces.)
The New York City Bar Association has stepped up to the plate:
The Bush administration is trying to evade responsibility for problems at the Guantánamo Bay prison by falsely blaming defense lawyers, the New York City Bar says.
The president of the group leveled the criticism on Friday in a letter asking Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to abandon a Justice Department proposal to limit lawyers’ access to the nearly 400 detainees at the prison….
In his letter to Mr. Gonzales, the bar association’s president, Barry M. Kamins, said, "This is an astonishing and disingenuous assertion."
"Blaming counsel for the hunger strikes and other unrest is a continuation of a disreputable and unwarranted smear campaign against counsel," the letter said.
The department wants to narrow the definition of “legal mail” and set a three-visit limit on face-to-face meetings once a detainee agrees at an initial meeting to let a lawyer represent him.
Good for them. I'm awaiting a similar reaction from the ABA — if anyone has seen one, please link it up in the comments below. We cannot on the one hand say that we stand for basic principles of fairness in jurisprudence, in the right of representation for the accused, and on the other hand say that an accused at Guantanimo is entitled only to a drive-by defense and whatever rights we happen to be in the mood to give them that particular day as the mood strikes us. The hypocrisy of decrying just this sort of governmental tactic in other nations as a false front that belies preconceived verdicts — and then practicing it in these quasi-judicial forums at Guantanimo is not lost on dictatorships and despots around the world.
And it is well past time that our principles and our deeds were brought back into alignment. It is incumbent upon lawyers of conscience to stand up and say so — we are defined not by the words we mouth, but by our deeds. And allowing the Bush Administration to define who we are without standing up to say that it is wrong marks us as acquiescing to and agreeing with their misinterpretation of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the principles on which this nation was founded. Shame on anyone who stays silent knowingly in the face of injustice and turns a blind eye to the perversion of the rule of law.
Big kudos to the NYC Bar for making that point very plainly in their response to this.