Terror Suspects' Attorney Getting Adjusted to the Limelight

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 20, 2004 | Go to article overview

Terror Suspects' Attorney Getting Adjusted to the Limelight


Byline: Guy Taylor, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Frank Dunham, the public defender in the cases of terror suspect Zacharias Moussaoui and reputed enemy combatant Yaser Esam Hamdi, acknowledges that he didn't expect the cases to turn out the way they have.

"I didn't anticipate that I would get sucked into a couple of cases that would have the national media spotlight turned on everything we did," said Mr. Dunham, the federal public defender for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2001.

He also did not expect that it would pit him against "an administration that I kind of support, and [become] a thorn in the side to people that perhaps I would rather not be."

But Mr. Dunham, whose efforts to defend the rights of two men deemed terrorists by President Bush have brought one case to a halt and taken the other all the way to the Supreme Court, said, "I'm a Republican who's a die-hard civil libertarian."

"I happen to believe that you find some people that get all teary when they talk about constitutional rights," he said. "You can find some in the Republican Party and you can find some in the Democratic Party, and I happen to be one in the Republican Party that believes that constitutional rights are more important and the government's power is to be feared as much as the founders feared it."

On April 28, Mr. Dunham, 61, will argue before the Supreme Court on behalf of Mr. Hamdi, an American-born resident of Saudi Arabia who was captured in 2001 during the U.S.-led war to overthrow Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which had sheltered September 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

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