Is Colonel Davis Another Cully Stimson?

Colonel Morris Davis, lead government prosecutor for the Guantanamo military commissions, was sharply critical of one of the attorneys representing Guantanamo detainees this past weekend. As reported yesterday in the International Herald Tribune:

The prosecutor, Colonel Morris Davis, said that the lawyer, Major Michael Mori of the U.S. Marine Corps, should not be running about Australia making public appearances in uniform on behalf of his client, David Hicks, and that Mori faced possible prosecution for some of his remarks.

"I don't know what Major Mori's plans are right now, but if he wants to come back home and represent his client, that would be helpful," Davis said in an article published Saturday by The Australian, a daily newspaper in Sydney.

"Certainly in the U.S. it would not be tolerated having a U.S. marine in uniform actively inserting himself into the political process," Davis said. "It is very disappointing to see that happening in Australia, and if that was any of my prosecutors, they would be held accountable."

He added that it would be up to the Marine Corps to decide whether Mori had violated Article 88 of the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, which makes it a crime for a military officer to use "contemptuous words" about the president, vice president, secretary of defense and other high-ranking officials.

Major Mori did not take the criticism well, suggesting Colonel Davis was seeking to intimidate him and compromise his and others' defense of detainees. According to the report, Mori also compared Davis' comments to the now-infamous remarks of former Pentagon official Cully Stimson, who made comments seeking to discourage the private representation of Gitmo detainees. (See here for a chain the VC's posts on the Stimson controversy.)

Based upon this report, Col. Davis' comments are not remotely comparable to those made by Stimson. Davis did not challenge the fact of representation, nor did he suggest that Mori or anyone else should suffer consequences for representing detainees. Rather, he criticized that manner in which Mori is representing his clients. Moreover, Davis is not challenging Mori's legal advocacy on behalf of detainees, but Mori's out-of-court conduct, particularly various political comments Mori has allegedly made overseas. Such criticism is not tantamount to lawyer intimidation, nor does it compromise any detainee's defense. At most, it seems that Davis would like Mori to spend more time preparing his defenses in court, and less time courting international public opinion.