And kudos to the conservatives (including conservative bloggers) who weighed in on the right side of the issue. (That category does not, as far as I can tell, include any Republican Senators or Members of Congress.) The principle that you lose your job as a political appointee for even trying to futz with the right to counsel is an excellent one.
Unfortunately, all of the people responsible for the actual torture and arbitrary detention those pro bono lawyers are fighting still have their jobs.
NO, there’s no real puzzle here. Form is easier to agree on than substance. If you believe in the rule of law, which means among other things that even people the government doesn’t like get to have lawyers, then Stimson’s comments were clearly over the line. That doesn’t depend on any specific opinion about what the detainees did, or what, exactly, is being done to them, or how they should be treated, or what Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions means who who it applies to, or even whether detainees get habeas corpus.
I fervently wish there were more consensus on those substantive questions than there seems to be. I hope to see war crimes trials after the current ruling clique is booted from power. But at least the bedrock principle of government under law remains uncontroversial. Let’s give thanks for small blessings.