The words "arbitrary" and "capricious" are too kind to describe the Congressional Research Service's decision to fire Morris D. Davis, a retired Air Force colonel and former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Davis' offense was to speak and write on his own time about a subject on which he is an expert: flaws in the military commission system and the appropriate way to bring accused terrorists to justice. His dismissal reflects a decision by his employers to take a legitimate principle — the importance of not politicizing a nonpartisan agency — to unjust extremes.
The Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress, provides information to members of Congress to aid them in the drafting of legislation. Davis was the assistant director of the service's Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division. A directive put out by the agency says that employees should "think carefully before taking a public position on subject matters for which they are responsible at CRS."
As Davis notes in his lawsuit seeking reinstatement, his division did not deal with questions connected to Guantanamo or military commissions. Questions from Congress about such matters were handled by a different section, the American Law Division. Nevertheless, he was fired after publishing two opinion articles — one in the Wall Street Journal, the other in the Washington Post — concerning the Obama administration's decision to try some accused terrorists in civilian courts and some in military commissions.