Last year I was at a private dinner with a friend who had been deployed by the U.S. Navy off the coast of Somalia fighting the pirates. He told me the story of one occasion when they had confronted and forced the surrender of a small dingy with a half dozen pirates on it. With the pirates in custody, they radioed back to headquarters. "What do we do with them?" was the question. The answer is all too familiar to those who know how the United States Government works: "You have to let them go." It appears that because they were not caught in the act of piracy, they were to be released. But the orders did not stop there. Because the dingy had not been certified by the U.S. Navy inspectors as seaworthy, the U.S. warship had to make a special port-call to deposit the would-be-pirates safely on shore. The navy was worried that the boat would sink and the pirates would sue the USG for wrongful death.
I'm sure the astute reader notices that bad guys seem to get the best defense. When the underwear bomber, or the shoe bomber, or any other apparel terrorist get caught they most often do not have to rely upon court appointed council -- they get the best lawyers that fame can provide. Too often they win.
I've often been baffled that the same is not true when it comes to defending the good guys. When USG employees get in trouble following orders (which happens more often that one would care to admit); or when CIA, USAID or other USG contractors are arrested overseas, where are the big guns who dive into the fray to defend lady liberty and her servants?
This last week I attended one of many daily events in Washington, this one to introduce to the world a new law firm to answer just this concern. Fluet, Huber + Hoang bills itself as the country's first "national security law practice." It is made up of former White House, Special Operations Forces, Intelligence Officials and other warrior-lawyers who are focused on using their skills to protect the country (battling those who would only do her harm). At the inauguration of the law firm I got a chance to talk to the firm's leadership of Joe Fluet, Jennifer Huber and Francis Hoang and listen to (literally) their war stories about fights in the world's hotspots, places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Having myself served in many of these places (albeit not as a soldier but an aid worker), and understanding the vulnerability of those who strive to do good and too often go under the bus to appease bureaucrats or fame-seeking lawyers, I was heartened to find out that there are people out there who have the nation's best interests at heart. I wish them the best in their efforts.