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Home Page Official Publication of the State Bar of California March2007
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Karen J. Mathis
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Due process on battlefield

ABA President Karen Mathis’ editorial (February) objecting to criticism of law firms that lend “legal” representation to enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay should be required reading at law schools, not for its conclusions, but as a jaw-dropping example about how to cram the maximum number of logical fallacies into an eight-paragraph editorial.

The real issue is not commitment to justice, but whether superimposing civilian “due process” safeguards upon a battlefield makes any sense. Are American soldiers to be expected to gather evidence during a firefight lest the non-uniformed enemy shooting at him today will be released from Guantanamo next month due to the lack of such evidence? Shall we reduce unit strength by airlifting individual soldiers out of the war zone to testify at a detention “trial” at Guantanamo? Should we release a captured enemy combatant because one of his colleagues betrayed his whereabouts without being given a “Miranda” warning? Never before has such a preposterous legal construct ever been proposed much less required to conduct a war.

Since I find it hard to believe anyone elected to be president of the American Bar Association could be so bedeviled by utopianism as to believe such a system actually would work, I suspect Ms. Mathis wrote her editorial with the specific intent that such a system would NOT work. In other words, Ms. Mathis’ unstated purpose was to drum up support to institute a system which would so hobble our military’s war effort from a practical standpoint such that continuing to fight the war would become an impossibility. 

Perhaps Ms. Mathis would better serve her constituents by being honest and freely admitting she believes America is an unjust imperial power that should lose this war.

Barry Sullivan
Burbank

A nit to pick

Ellen Peck’s article (January) concerning people with disabilities was a good one. The only minor nit I have to pick is that the piece might have highlighted that people with disabilities are lawyers, judges, expert witnesses and jurors – not just clients or potential clients.

Debbie Cauble
San Jose

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