Diana West

And woe to anyone whose heart doesn't swell at the sight. The notion, as imagined by Mr. Stimson, that a non-terrorist client might actually disapprove of this enthusiastically offered legal largesse was depicted as downright un-American. For that matter, so was Mr. Stimson. Not even his colleagues at the Pentagon supported him for suggesting that the veritable stampede of white shoes to Gitmo was the least bit unseemly.

Then, quite suddenly, Cully Stimson changed his mind. In a letter to the Washington Post, he recanted all. "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 questioned the integrity of those engaged in the zealous defense of detainees in Guantanamo. I do not ... I apologize for what I said to those lawyers who are representing clients at Guantanamo. I hope that my record of public service makes clear that those comments do no reflect my core beliefs."

I guess that's what they call an about-face. What's more interesting than the dust kicked up, though, is the nave notion that got Cully Stimson into trouble in the first place. This would be his apparent belief that in 21st-century America there still exists what we think of as an establishment that automatically identifies American interests with victories against terrorists. The fact is, a victory for Gitmo due process isn't the same as a victory in the "war on terror." What probably eluded Mr. Stimson is that along with the very nature of the establishment, the definition of victory has also changed. Even more confusing is that so, too, has the definition of the enemy.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).