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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Even the unpopular deserve legal representation

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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We agree that Judicial Watch should be allowed to observe the hearings at Guantanamo Bay ("Chilling dissent over Guantanamo policy," Commentary, Sept. 26). More transparency, not less, is a critical check on government abuse, which is one reason why our federal courts are seen as legitimate throughout the world, unlike the tribunals in Cuba.

It is reckless, though, for the writer of this piece to call some lawyers or groups members of the "terrorism bar." Our country has a rich tradition of ensuring robust representation for even the most unpopular criminal suspects, dating back to John Adams' defense of British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, and prominent counterterrorism officials denounced prior attacks on lawyers who represented Guantanamo detainees. As Mr. Graham said, "This system of justice that we're so proud of in America requires the unpopular to have an advocate, and every time a defense lawyer fights to make the government do their job, that defense lawyer has made us all safer."


Director, Law and Security Program

Human Rights First


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