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Digest

He's pro pro bono after all

By TIMES WIRES
Published January 21, 2007


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First, Charles D. "Cully" Stimson, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, gave an interview on Federal News Radio, a station geared to federal employees in Washington, in which he criticized law firms that represent inmates of the Guantanamo internment camp for free. He named some major firms in the country and called it "shocking" that they were "representing detainees down there" and suggested that when corporate America got word of this behavior, "those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms." He added: "We want to watch that play out." It played out in this letter to the Washington Post days later in which Stimson apologized:

During a radio interview last week, I brought up the topic of pro bono work and habeas corpus representation of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Regrettably, my comments left the impression that I question the integrity of those engaged in the zealous defense of detainees in Guantanamo. I do not.

I believe firmly that a foundational principle of our legal system is that the system works best when both sides are represented by competent legal counsel. I support pro bono work, as I said in the interview. I was a criminal defense attorney in two of my three tours in the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps. I zealously represented unpopular clients - people charged with crimes that did not make them, or their attorneys, popular in the military. I believe that our justice system requires vigorous representation.

I apologize for what I said and to those lawyers and law firms who are representing clients at Guantanamo. I hope that my record of public service makes clear that those comments do not reflect my core beliefs.

CULLY STIMSON

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs

Defense Department, Washington

The burkini

Muslim women unable to wear revealing swimwear are turning to a design nicknamed the "Burkini," a cross between a burqa and a bikini. The modest bathing costume is the new work of an Australian designer, Aheda Zanetti. The polyester suit is made up of pants and a long-sleeved thigh or knee-length A-line top with head covering. It is water-repellent, UV-resistant and comes with Arab designs and starts at slightly more than $100. Read more about it at www.ahiida.com.

Iraqi civilian deaths hit 34,000 last year

The United Nations reported last week that more than 34,000 Iraqis were killed in violence last year, a figure that represents the first comprehensive annual count of civilian deaths. The number is just shy of 100 deaths a day. The report was the first attempt at hand-counting individual deaths for an entire year. Compiled using reports from morgues, hospitals and municipal authorities across Iraq, it described a society in collapse in which at least 470,094 Iraqis have fled their homes since February.

Top dogs

Last week, the American Kennel Club announced a shift in its 10 most popular dog breeds in the nation, or at least in that elite group of purebred dogs whose pedigrees and papers are in order. The most popular dog last year, as it has been for 16 years in a row, was the Labrador retriever, with about 124,000 registrations, or 14 percent of the club's total. But the big news, the club said, was the No. 2 ranking: the Yorkshire terrier, overtaking larger breeds. The tiny Yorkie, favored by the wife played by Eva Gabor in television's Green Acres, had about 48,000 registrations in the United States. The rest, in order:

3. German shepherds

4. Golden retrievers

5. Beagles

6. Dachshunds

7. Boxers

8. Poodles

9. Shih Tzu

10. Miniature schnauzers

What a trillion dollars will buy

Writing for the New York Times Economix column, David Leonhardt works out the cost of the war in Iraq - which he estimates to be $1.2-trillion - and tries to put that number in context. Here's an excerpt: The human mind isn't very well equipped to make sense of a figure like $1.2-trillion. We don't deal with a trillion of anything in our daily lives, and so when we come across such a big number, it is hard to distinguish it from any other big number. Forget about the number itself and think instead about what you could buy with the money. For starters, an unprecedented public health campaign - a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children's lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn't use up even half our money pot. Turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds.

The final big chunk of the money could go to national security. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that have not been put in place - better baggage and cargo screening, stronger measures against nuclear proliferation - could be enacted. Financing for the war in Afghanistan could be increased to beat back the Taliban's recent gains, and a peacekeeping force could put a stop to the genocide in Darfur. All that would be one way to spend $1.2-trillion. Here would be another:

The war in Iraq.

 

[Last modified January 20, 2007, 20:22:09]


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