The military lawyers at Gitmo

One of the reason the detainees at Guantanamo are not getting convicted and punished en masse (as would be the case if the current administration is as bad as its critics say it is), is that the accused terrorists are getting such excellent military defense attorneys who are staunchly defending their rights.

The New York Times has an article on the subject, focusing on a young JAG officer named Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler.

He is no natural agitator. At 37, he is in some ways deeply conventional. Married to the first girl he ever dated in high school, he is a self-described born-again Christian and conservative who has “never voted for a Democrat.” Tom Fleener, a former Guantánamo military defense lawyer, described Commander Kuebler, saying, “Take the average conservative guy in the street and multiply that by a million.” . . .

“It is a powerful way to be a witness for Christ,” he said, “by demonstrating your capacity to not judge the way everybody else is judging and to serve unconditionally.”

Commander Kuebler has been pulling out all the stops in defending his Guantanamo client, to the point of infuriating the prosecutors with his delaying tactics and his playing the media. Though now evidence has arisen that maybe his client is innocent after all.

I appreciate the way the NY Times, no less, brought out both his conservatism (protection of individual rights, after all, is a conservative ideal) and, especially, his Christianity. Since the proper work of a defense attorney is to be an advocate for the accused, isn’t this a good example of Christian vocation?

HT: Frank Sonnek

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • utahrainbow

    I took someone’s advice and am currently watching the John Adams miniseries. The very first disc is interesting in light of this issue. Adams chooses to be the defense attorney for the British soldiers who fired into a crowd (mob) at the Boston Massacre. There could have been those who argued they were “enemy combatants” and deserved not the trial of an American. But regardless, he felt, to much unpopularity, that they still deserved due process of law. My understanding is that he believed that everyone was due this, not just Americans. The courtroom scene is so well done and thought provoking.

    A resounding YES! a defense attorney is a good example of a Christian vocation!

  • utahrainbow

    I took someone’s advice and am currently watching the John Adams miniseries. The very first disc is interesting in light of this issue. Adams chooses to be the defense attorney for the British soldiers who fired into a crowd (mob) at the Boston Massacre. There could have been those who argued they were “enemy combatants” and deserved not the trial of an American. But regardless, he felt, to much unpopularity, that they still deserved due process of law. My understanding is that he believed that everyone was due this, not just Americans. The courtroom scene is so well done and thought provoking.

    A resounding YES! a defense attorney is a good example of a Christian vocation!

  • utahrainbow

    By the way, I do realize that obviously America was under British law at the time, but I just find it striking that these soldiers received the same process of law as any regular citizen in Boston.

    Perhaps some may think I am inappropriately/inaccurately overlaying this over the Gitmo issue, but I do think it speaks to the same topic at hand. My point is just that they could have easily been denied a fair trial because of their perceived enemy status amongst the people.

  • utahrainbow

    By the way, I do realize that obviously America was under British law at the time, but I just find it striking that these soldiers received the same process of law as any regular citizen in Boston.

    Perhaps some may think I am inappropriately/inaccurately overlaying this over the Gitmo issue, but I do think it speaks to the same topic at hand. My point is just that they could have easily been denied a fair trial because of their perceived enemy status amongst the people.

  • Trey

    The John Adam miniseries is great! I had a similar discussion last night with my father in regards to justice and vigilantism. While our current justice system is far from perfect in punishing criminals (See liberal justices of the Supreme Court ruling yesterday), everyone deserves to challenge their detention even terrorists. This is the rule of law and it prevents chaos. However, terrorist or enemy combatants should not be able to challenge their detention in U.S. Courts only in military tribunals (See liberal SC justices again, 2 weeks ago).

  • Trey

    The John Adam miniseries is great! I had a similar discussion last night with my father in regards to justice and vigilantism. While our current justice system is far from perfect in punishing criminals (See liberal justices of the Supreme Court ruling yesterday), everyone deserves to challenge their detention even terrorists. This is the rule of law and it prevents chaos. However, terrorist or enemy combatants should not be able to challenge their detention in U.S. Courts only in military tribunals (See liberal SC justices again, 2 weeks ago).

  • Jonathan

    As a Christian attorney, I will say that the role of the defense lawyer is poorly understood and generally disrepected by the many Christians I talked to. It’s good, therefore, to see the vocation profiled.
    But the one comment I wish this man had not made was that he has never voted for a Democrat.
    Unfortunately, the comment reinforces the stereotype that Christians ought to be and vote Republican, though there are many good Christians who are Democrats.
    Moreover, there are many good Christians who are pro-life Democrats. Just as there are many good Christians who are independents and anti-war and anti-greed Republicans.
    Political views come and go. Christ is our Head.

  • Jonathan

    As a Christian attorney, I will say that the role of the defense lawyer is poorly understood and generally disrepected by the many Christians I talked to. It’s good, therefore, to see the vocation profiled.
    But the one comment I wish this man had not made was that he has never voted for a Democrat.
    Unfortunately, the comment reinforces the stereotype that Christians ought to be and vote Republican, though there are many good Christians who are Democrats.
    Moreover, there are many good Christians who are pro-life Democrats. Just as there are many good Christians who are independents and anti-war and anti-greed Republicans.
    Political views come and go. Christ is our Head.

  • utahrainbow

    Regarding the Supreme Court decision about this from a couple weeks ago: see this thoughtful column from George Will

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/16/AR2008061602041.html

  • utahrainbow

    Regarding the Supreme Court decision about this from a couple weeks ago: see this thoughtful column from George Will

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/16/AR2008061602041.html

  • Don S

    Jonathan @ #4, you stated that “there are many good Christians who are pro-life Democrats. Just as there are many good Christians who are independents and anti-war and anti-greed Republicans.” I think you will acknowledge that most Democrats are pro-abortion, in the sense that they believe abortion to be a fundamental constitutional right, and that pro-life Democrats are a small minority within the party, an exception, so to speak. By extension, you appear to be saying that Christian Republicans who are anti-war and anti-greed are an exception to the rule that Republicans are pro-war and pro-greed. Do you really believe that? I am a Republican who believes we need to stay in Iraq until it is stabilized — does that make me pro-war? Similarly, I am a Republican who does not believe that our huge modern government, which has grown accustomed to acting coercively to take hard-earned money from one politically disfavored person to give to another politically favored person, is in the best interests of our nation. I believe it is acting unconstitutionally. Does that make me “greedy”?

  • Don S

    Jonathan @ #4, you stated that “there are many good Christians who are pro-life Democrats. Just as there are many good Christians who are independents and anti-war and anti-greed Republicans.” I think you will acknowledge that most Democrats are pro-abortion, in the sense that they believe abortion to be a fundamental constitutional right, and that pro-life Democrats are a small minority within the party, an exception, so to speak. By extension, you appear to be saying that Christian Republicans who are anti-war and anti-greed are an exception to the rule that Republicans are pro-war and pro-greed. Do you really believe that? I am a Republican who believes we need to stay in Iraq until it is stabilized — does that make me pro-war? Similarly, I am a Republican who does not believe that our huge modern government, which has grown accustomed to acting coercively to take hard-earned money from one politically disfavored person to give to another politically favored person, is in the best interests of our nation. I believe it is acting unconstitutionally. Does that make me “greedy”?

  • Jonathan

    Don S – My opinions of your political views are unimportant. My point was only that American Christians should stop acting as if the fruit of the Spirit includes not just love, joy, peace, etc., but also memberhip in the GOP. We ought to say that a Christian with good conscience can join any political party, except perhaps one, if there is one, that explicitly denounces the gospel.
    I’m glad Utahrainbow posted the Geo. Will column. It’s thoughtful writing by a conservative who, in this instance, knows what’s important to conserve.

  • Jonathan

    Don S – My opinions of your political views are unimportant. My point was only that American Christians should stop acting as if the fruit of the Spirit includes not just love, joy, peace, etc., but also memberhip in the GOP. We ought to say that a Christian with good conscience can join any political party, except perhaps one, if there is one, that explicitly denounces the gospel.
    I’m glad Utahrainbow posted the Geo. Will column. It’s thoughtful writing by a conservative who, in this instance, knows what’s important to conserve.

  • Don S

    Fair enough, Jonathan. I’m not arguing with your point that Christians can inhabit both parties or that you must be a Republican to be a true Christian. I was only a bit taken aback by your apparent view that most Republicans are both greedy and pro-war.

  • Don S

    Fair enough, Jonathan. I’m not arguing with your point that Christians can inhabit both parties or that you must be a Republican to be a true Christian. I was only a bit taken aback by your apparent view that most Republicans are both greedy and pro-war.

  • CRB

    utahrainbow,
    I also watched this excellent series. Did you gather from it that Adams was a Christian? I don’t think it was very clear that he not that far removed from the theological mind-set of Jefferson, a deist.

  • CRB

    utahrainbow,
    I also watched this excellent series. Did you gather from it that Adams was a Christian? I don’t think it was very clear that he not that far removed from the theological mind-set of Jefferson, a deist.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Don S (@8), what wars have you opposed?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So Don S (@8), what wars have you opposed?

  • utahrainbow

    CRB,
    I am not completely finished watching it, but from what I’ve seen, I agree, there’s nothing explicitly Christian in what is said. Many very moral pronouncements both in his public life and private life, but none (that I can recall) explicitly about Christ and specifically His redemptive work for humanity. On the other hand, his view of human nature seems in line with original sin.

    Now that I look at my originial post, I might have (not intentionally) implied that Adams was a Christian. I really have no idea, but apart from that, I do think defense attorney a good Christian vocation.

  • utahrainbow

    CRB,
    I am not completely finished watching it, but from what I’ve seen, I agree, there’s nothing explicitly Christian in what is said. Many very moral pronouncements both in his public life and private life, but none (that I can recall) explicitly about Christ and specifically His redemptive work for humanity. On the other hand, his view of human nature seems in line with original sin.

    Now that I look at my originial post, I might have (not intentionally) implied that Adams was a Christian. I really have no idea, but apart from that, I do think defense attorney a good Christian vocation.

  • S. Bauer

    Perhaps the reason so many of the Gitmo prisoners are not being convicted en masse is that so many of them are innocent (as the last sentence of the second to last paragraph of this post indicates is the case with this individual) and have been “detained” (and tortured) for the last six or seven years without the government having to give the least bit of justification for such injustice.

    I’m baaack. Didja all miss me?

  • S. Bauer

    Perhaps the reason so many of the Gitmo prisoners are not being convicted en masse is that so many of them are innocent (as the last sentence of the second to last paragraph of this post indicates is the case with this individual) and have been “detained” (and tortured) for the last six or seven years without the government having to give the least bit of justification for such injustice.

    I’m baaack. Didja all miss me?

  • Don S

    tODD @ 10, I am not “most Republicans”. Moreover, as I am sure you understand, there is a middle ground between “pro-war” and “anti-war”, so just because someone is not “pro-war” does not mean they are necessarily opposed to a particular war. Sometimes war is a necessary evil. However, to answer your question, I would have opposed Vietnam, had I been old enough (particularly the unfortunate way in which it was fought), and did oppose Bosnia and Kosovo. I supported Desert Storm, but was not particularly high on invading Iraq in 2003. However, once we went in, with the support of 85% of the American population and virtually all of Congress, I swung to supporting completion of the mission there, because I can’t stand the thought of abandoning the Iraqis the way we abandoned the Vietnamese. We’re better than that (I hope).

    So, do you agree with Jonathan that most Republicans are greedy?

  • Don S

    tODD @ 10, I am not “most Republicans”. Moreover, as I am sure you understand, there is a middle ground between “pro-war” and “anti-war”, so just because someone is not “pro-war” does not mean they are necessarily opposed to a particular war. Sometimes war is a necessary evil. However, to answer your question, I would have opposed Vietnam, had I been old enough (particularly the unfortunate way in which it was fought), and did oppose Bosnia and Kosovo. I supported Desert Storm, but was not particularly high on invading Iraq in 2003. However, once we went in, with the support of 85% of the American population and virtually all of Congress, I swung to supporting completion of the mission there, because I can’t stand the thought of abandoning the Iraqis the way we abandoned the Vietnamese. We’re better than that (I hope).

    So, do you agree with Jonathan that most Republicans are greedy?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@13), I do not expect you to represent “most Republicans” — though your views do not seem atypical, all the same. But you’d said “I am a Republican who believes we need to stay in Iraq until it is stabilized — does that make me pro-war?” I figured a better question was what wars you’d actually opposed.

    Like many Republicans I’ve heard from, you seem to oppose wars when they are Democratic wars (I realize the Vietnam War was the fault of both parties, but it seems to have grown most under Democrats). Maybe there’s a different causation, but there’s that correlation. If a given Republican never met a Republican-led war he’d oppose, I’d still get the impression he’s fairly pro-war. Same goes for Democrats, of course.

    You mention opposing Vietnam for the “unfortunate way in which it was fought”, implying that you may not have opposed its start, but you would have opposed it once we were there — even though you decry how we “abandoned the Vietnamese”. How is your (theoretical?) opposition to Vietnam, mid-war, different from current opposition to the Iraq War, which has also been fought “unfortunately” (at least for much of its many years)? It seems inconsistent. I’d also like to know more about why you opposed the Balkan actions.

    And as to your oft-quoted “with the support of 85% of the American population and virtually all of Congress” … are you reading from a script or something? Is it a nervous tic? Popularity doesn’t retroactively make a bad idea good. And what percentage of the American population in 2003 believed Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11? Any chance those percentages were both so high for similar reasons?

    Finally, if I had to guess, I’d say most people are greedy, and that would necessarily include Republicans, although I doubt that answer interests you. I do think that many Republican policies are designed to benefit businesses and the rich, and that those recipients are more often than not driven by greed. I also think that many Republican economic tactics not aimed at businesses or the rich are aimed at people’s sense of greed, though usually not so overtly.

    A few years back, Republican congresspeople wanted to cut every citizen a check to alleviate the pain at the pump. Was that good policy? Did it make good economic sense? Or was it more or less a bribe to make us think highly of Republicans? How about the (frankly, ridiculous) “gas tax holiday”? Is that good policy? Or is it a cheap stunt to appeal to our wallet, economics be cursed? (The fact that Clinton also supported this idea doesn’t mean it is not an appeal to greed.)

    How about the idea, popular only among Republicans as far as I can tell, that tax cuts will solve nearly any problem — if it were accompanied by spending cuts, I might believe it was high-minded theory, rather than pandering to greed. But who was the last Republican president to cut taxes and spending in a serious way (seriously, maybe I’m ill-informed; who was it)? Cutting my taxes (and making me more likely to vote for you) at the expense of our nation’s massive debt seems pretty greed-oriented.

    Oh, I know, I’m fairly ignorant on these matters, but that’s where I’m — and maybe others are — coming from.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@13), I do not expect you to represent “most Republicans” — though your views do not seem atypical, all the same. But you’d said “I am a Republican who believes we need to stay in Iraq until it is stabilized — does that make me pro-war?” I figured a better question was what wars you’d actually opposed.

    Like many Republicans I’ve heard from, you seem to oppose wars when they are Democratic wars (I realize the Vietnam War was the fault of both parties, but it seems to have grown most under Democrats). Maybe there’s a different causation, but there’s that correlation. If a given Republican never met a Republican-led war he’d oppose, I’d still get the impression he’s fairly pro-war. Same goes for Democrats, of course.

    You mention opposing Vietnam for the “unfortunate way in which it was fought”, implying that you may not have opposed its start, but you would have opposed it once we were there — even though you decry how we “abandoned the Vietnamese”. How is your (theoretical?) opposition to Vietnam, mid-war, different from current opposition to the Iraq War, which has also been fought “unfortunately” (at least for much of its many years)? It seems inconsistent. I’d also like to know more about why you opposed the Balkan actions.

    And as to your oft-quoted “with the support of 85% of the American population and virtually all of Congress” … are you reading from a script or something? Is it a nervous tic? Popularity doesn’t retroactively make a bad idea good. And what percentage of the American population in 2003 believed Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11? Any chance those percentages were both so high for similar reasons?

    Finally, if I had to guess, I’d say most people are greedy, and that would necessarily include Republicans, although I doubt that answer interests you. I do think that many Republican policies are designed to benefit businesses and the rich, and that those recipients are more often than not driven by greed. I also think that many Republican economic tactics not aimed at businesses or the rich are aimed at people’s sense of greed, though usually not so overtly.

    A few years back, Republican congresspeople wanted to cut every citizen a check to alleviate the pain at the pump. Was that good policy? Did it make good economic sense? Or was it more or less a bribe to make us think highly of Republicans? How about the (frankly, ridiculous) “gas tax holiday”? Is that good policy? Or is it a cheap stunt to appeal to our wallet, economics be cursed? (The fact that Clinton also supported this idea doesn’t mean it is not an appeal to greed.)

    How about the idea, popular only among Republicans as far as I can tell, that tax cuts will solve nearly any problem — if it were accompanied by spending cuts, I might believe it was high-minded theory, rather than pandering to greed. But who was the last Republican president to cut taxes and spending in a serious way (seriously, maybe I’m ill-informed; who was it)? Cutting my taxes (and making me more likely to vote for you) at the expense of our nation’s massive debt seems pretty greed-oriented.

    Oh, I know, I’m fairly ignorant on these matters, but that’s where I’m — and maybe others are — coming from.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Moreover, there are many good Christians who are pro-life Democrats.”

    What does this mean? What is meant by a “good Christian”? What is meant by a “pro-life Democrat”? The party platform has had a pro-abortion position for thirty years.

    Does a “good Christian” or “pro-life Democrat” vote for a pro-abortion Democrat, including a pro-abortion presidential candidate, who supports or has voted for pro-abortion legislation? If so, then “pro-life Democrat” is an oxymoron just like “patriotic traitor”.

  • Carl Vehse

    “Moreover, there are many good Christians who are pro-life Democrats.”

    What does this mean? What is meant by a “good Christian”? What is meant by a “pro-life Democrat”? The party platform has had a pro-abortion position for thirty years.

    Does a “good Christian” or “pro-life Democrat” vote for a pro-abortion Democrat, including a pro-abortion presidential candidate, who supports or has voted for pro-abortion legislation? If so, then “pro-life Democrat” is an oxymoron just like “patriotic traitor”.

  • Don S

    tODD, I’ve never really thought of wars as “Democratic”, or “Republican”. I find it interesting that you do. Once we’ve committed our troops to a war effort, it is, clearly, an “American” war.

    The reason for mentioning the 85% support, is to point out that all but a small portion of the naysayers now are hypocrites. They are right there, gung ho, let’s go get ‘em. Then, when war inevitably gets messy and expensive, both in blood and treasure, “we’re outta here”. Sorry, but it’s not that simple. Once you make a commitment to destroy the existing government and infrastructure of a country, you had better stay until it is fixed. For the sake of the population of the country you invaded, of course, as well as for your own country’s reputation and its moral character.

    As for Vietnam, I was 5 when it started. So, obviously, I wasn’t a supporter or in opposition. But, had I been older, and had I known that we were going to fight the war for no particular purpose and with no particular urgency or commitment, and sacrifice 55,000 American lives in the process, I would have opposed such an effort at the outset. Again, though, once you’re in, you have to play to win. We didn’t, we bailed, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodians paid the price. Our reputation and moral character was shattered. Shameful.

    Bosnia and Kosovo — what exactly was the point in intervening in that particular civil war, and not all of the others in the world? And if NATO wanted to do it, why didn’t we let them? Why did we have to take the lead? Wag the dog? Who knows, but it never really made sense to me.

    I believe it was the Democrat congress that initiated the silly “stimulus” checks this year. How is that different from the “pain at the pump check”? How does that make Republicans greedy and Democrats not?

    And since when is it “greedy” to oppose the confiscatory taking by a huge bureaucratic coercive government of between 1/3 and 1/2 of YOUR hard earned money? Is it because we consider our hard earned money our’s, rather than the government’s. Should we be grateful that dear old Uncle Sam lets us keep 1/2 of it? You have a very funny definition of greed.

    By the way, were the six Democratic senators who got VIP loans from Countrywide before pushing through a $300 billion mortgage bailout bill greedy?

  • Don S

    tODD, I’ve never really thought of wars as “Democratic”, or “Republican”. I find it interesting that you do. Once we’ve committed our troops to a war effort, it is, clearly, an “American” war.

    The reason for mentioning the 85% support, is to point out that all but a small portion of the naysayers now are hypocrites. They are right there, gung ho, let’s go get ‘em. Then, when war inevitably gets messy and expensive, both in blood and treasure, “we’re outta here”. Sorry, but it’s not that simple. Once you make a commitment to destroy the existing government and infrastructure of a country, you had better stay until it is fixed. For the sake of the population of the country you invaded, of course, as well as for your own country’s reputation and its moral character.

    As for Vietnam, I was 5 when it started. So, obviously, I wasn’t a supporter or in opposition. But, had I been older, and had I known that we were going to fight the war for no particular purpose and with no particular urgency or commitment, and sacrifice 55,000 American lives in the process, I would have opposed such an effort at the outset. Again, though, once you’re in, you have to play to win. We didn’t, we bailed, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodians paid the price. Our reputation and moral character was shattered. Shameful.

    Bosnia and Kosovo — what exactly was the point in intervening in that particular civil war, and not all of the others in the world? And if NATO wanted to do it, why didn’t we let them? Why did we have to take the lead? Wag the dog? Who knows, but it never really made sense to me.

    I believe it was the Democrat congress that initiated the silly “stimulus” checks this year. How is that different from the “pain at the pump check”? How does that make Republicans greedy and Democrats not?

    And since when is it “greedy” to oppose the confiscatory taking by a huge bureaucratic coercive government of between 1/3 and 1/2 of YOUR hard earned money? Is it because we consider our hard earned money our’s, rather than the government’s. Should we be grateful that dear old Uncle Sam lets us keep 1/2 of it? You have a very funny definition of greed.

    By the way, were the six Democratic senators who got VIP loans from Countrywide before pushing through a $300 billion mortgage bailout bill greedy?


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