Lawyers Representing Guantamano Detainees Lash Back at Bush Administration Critics
Interview with Tom Wilner, attorney with Shearman and Sterling, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
Demonstrations in the U.S. and around the world marked Jan. 11, the fifth anniversary of the opening of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A growing number of members of Congress have joined the protesters call for the closure of the prison. But on Jan. 13, a high-level member of the Bush administration criticized -- not the denial of human rights and civil liberties at the prison -- but the attorneys from prestigious law firms who are representing the detainees pro bono. Charles D. Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, suggested that those firms' corporate clients should consider taking their business elsewhere. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal made the same point, "that corporate CEO's seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists." The information on which law firms are representing the detainees was requested by a conservative talk show host and made available through the Freedom of Information Act.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Tom Wilner of the Washington, D.C.-based firm, Shearman & Sterling. His firm was the first to take on pro-bono cases of Guantanamo detainees, with as many as ten attorneys involved. For several years they represented 12 Kuwaiti prisoners, eight of whom have now been released. The Kuwaitis insisted on paying for their representation, but Wilner says his firm donated all the monies to 9/11-based charities. His firm, Shearman & Sterling, is no longer directly representing the remaining Kuwaitis, but instead has taken on a coordinating role on the rule of law issue for all detainees.
For more information on the status of the cases of the Guantanamo detainees, contact the Center for Constitutional Rights at (212) 614-6464 or visit their website at www.ccr-ny.org
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