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What makes Gitmo so sexy?

By See-Dubya  •  August 17, 2008 10:01 PM

Here’s something I’ve had on the back burner for a while now, about the Gitmo Lawyers and their not-so-pro-bono crusade.

The initial groundswell of elite outrage directed at the efforts to detain and interrogate terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was not some spontaneous eruption of liberal spleen. Since then, things have taken their own course, but the initial attempt to legitimate the Gitmo detainees and undermine our efforts to interrogate and prosecute them was a deliberate, carefully orchestrated campaign. It was handled by a Crisis PR firm. It was funded by the Kuwaiti government.*

But, I’ve always wondered…why Gitmo? There are enemy combatants being detained around the world. Bagram, Iraq, who knows where else…why do we keep hearing about Gitmo?

Last year, in an interview by a liberal website called The Talking Dog with one of the head Gitmo lawyers, the reason was revealed–emphasis mine:

The Talking Dog: Can you describe the origins of the legal strategy (and am I correct that this IS the legal strategy!) that seems to focus almost exclusively on the Guantanamo detainees, whom I understand are the minority of those held by our government (a tiny minority, counting Iraq), as opposed to elsewhere in “the pipeline”, including of course, Bagram, Kandahar, Diego Garcia and the ghost and black prisons, as well as those “renditioned” elsewhere?

Tina Foster: I do think it was an intentional strategy. GTMO is the easiest detention facility to understand: it is so far from the theater of battle, and so close to the United States. Furthermore, it is sexy, as it was the venue for a Jack Nicholson/Tom Cruise movie! It is certainly more accessible and comprehensible than Bagram, or Abu Ghraib (at least, before the photos came out).

Legally, it is also the easiest challenge, because it was the easiest to demonstrate that the United States is in full and absolute control of the place. […]GTMO has become the symbol of U.S. detention policy, and that has not changed. …

There is a fear– a wide fear among many in the human rights community– that if the issue expands too far beyond GTMO, the public will not be able to comprehend the full breadth of the problem, and it will be overwhelming and undermine the support that has been won so far.

You may think the government is playing you on this issue. Think that if you like. But don’t tell me the Lefty legal establishment isn’t playing you, too.


This is probably the last thing I’ll get a chance to write about the Gitmo lawyers. Please, bloggers, readers, media people: continue to question the PR-firm-massaged narrative they are trying to sell you.

The presence of these PR firms doesn’t, in itself, make the Gitmo Lawyers right or wrong. I’m just sick of their attempts to cover themselves in heroism, and of the uncritical acceptance of everything they say and everything they claim to be. “Pro-bono” does not mean “altruistic”. Money has changed hands for some of this. I imagine professorial appointments and recommendations for judicial clerkships have as well. Though it may spring from sincere motives, it is a sure-fire career move to “stand up boldly” for detainee rights, and it’s damn near consequence-free. (The other side, not so much.)

They should not be above criticism.

And as for the big white-shoe law firms that are so God&$#* proud of defending terrorists that they splash it all over their firm’s pro-bono page: how many of them also sent free high-powered lawyers to help U.S. servicemen in trouble?

Because, if I were looking for a law firm, I might want to know that.


{Post by See-Dubya. If you’re interested in this story, keep reading these guys.}

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