FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Corporate Advice from the Office of Detainee Affairs

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

It is perfectly obvious that the barrage of criticism accompanying the statements made by Charles D. Stimson arises from a misunderstanding as to what people think Mr. Stimson thought he was talking about. It wasn’t what they thought.

Mr. Stimson is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs. Before George Bush there was no deputy secretary of defense for detainee affairs much less a deputy assistant. That was because the concept of “detainee” had not yet been invented. Creation of The Office of Detainee Affairs was announced in 2004 and its mission was to be responsible for strategy, development and policy recommendations pertaining to treatment of detainees and to handle reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Before its invention a person who was apprehended for criminal conduct was called a “prisoner” and his condition was described as being “in prison” or “imprisoned”. A prisoner would discover in due course whether being a prisoner was a permanent condition i.e. for life, or finite i.e. for a term of years or until acquittal by a jury of the person’s peers. After he began his wars, George Bush invented a new word.

The invention was surprising because George Bush has never been perceived by even his doting mother, as a man of letters. (His decision to deliver the gospel of Iraqi escalation from the White House library added a touch of irony to the occasion.) By introducing the word “detainee” into the language when referring to those who would otherwise be referred to as “prisoners”, he changed the criminal law landscape insofar as it affects those encapsulated by the word in a most unexpected way. Here’s how.

Guests who are late for dinner will call to say they have been detained but will be along shortly. Being a “detainee” suggests that at most any moment the person detained will find him or herself back in civilian life with sufficient government supplied funds to buy a bus ticket home. Unfortunately for those detained by Mr. Bush, however, he, having invented that particular use of the word has, as he has with so many of his inventions, given it new meaning. Someone detained by Mr. Bush will not simply be a few minutes late for a dinner. The person detained may never get to the dinner and, worse yet, may spend the rest of his or her life wondering why not since Mr. Bush has decreed that someone who being detained and misses dinner, is not entitled to know the reason for the detention. In that respect detainees differ from prisoners, the latter being entitled to know why they are what they are.

All of the foregoing is by way of explaining that Charles D. Stimson, Esq. is not, if you accept my analysis and ignore his words, the dim-witted oaf he appears at first blush. He is simply confused by Mr. Bush’s use of the word “detainee”.

In the second week of January Mr. Stimson told Federal News Radio that corporations using law firms representing those detained in Guantánamo should sever their ties to those law firms. In a Wall Street Journal editorial echoing Mr. Stimson’s sentiments, Robert Pollock quoted an administration official (who may well have been Mr. Stimson) as saying: “Corporate C.E.O.’s . . . should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers [lawyers representing Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski et al earned millions] and representing terrorists [who pay nothing]”. Although Mr. Stimson didn’t say it, I’m sure he was only thinking of what was in the best interests of the law firms.

Mr. Stimson’s actual words saying companies should sever ties with law firms representing detainees because the detainees (who have not been tried or convicted) are responsible for the absolutely awful financial times that befell many companies after 9/11 seem to contradict my analysis. I give him the benefit of the doubt. As a lawyer he can’t have intentionally said such a foolish thing knowing that none of the detainees has been convicted of anything. Furthermore, the company that had the worst year after 9/11 was Enron. Its problems had nothing to do with 9/11.

I attribute the seeming contradiction between my analysis and Mr. Stimson’s words to a brief and uncharacteristic moment of misspeaking by him. I describe it as uncharacteristic because he is a man of great self-importance. In a 2006 interview with the magazine of Kenyon College, his alma mater, he said he was learning “to choose my words carefully because I am a public figure on a very very controversial topic.” If he routinely made such foolish statements it would belie his assertion that he chooses his words carefully unless he really believes what he said about the detainees. If he believes what he says he should have described himself to the magazine as a “public fool on a fool’s errand” since that is what he obviously is.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. Visit his website: http://hraos.com/

 

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail