Charles "Cully" Stimson

Senior Legal Fellow and Manager, National Security Law Program, The Heritage Foundation

Charles “Cully” Stimson is a widely recognized expert in national security, homeland security, crime control, drug policy and immigration. A senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation since 2007, Stimson became Manager of the National Security Law Program in Heritage’s Institute for Constitutional Government in April 2013 after serving as Heritage’s chief of staff for a year.

Stimson writes and lectures on policy issues such as the law of armed conflict, terrorist detainee policy and interrogations, the Geneva Conventions, military commissions, the Patriot Act and FISA, criminal law and the death penalty, immigration and the war on drugs. As chief of staff to then-Heritage President Edwin J. Feulner, he was a key adviser on public policy matters as well as manager of Feulner’s office staff and Heritage’s day-to-day operations.

Stimson’s many research papers, op-eds and articles include special reports such as “Adult Time for Adult Crime,”  a comprehensive study on the constitutionality of life sentences for teen-age murderers, and Sexual Assault in the Military: Understanding the Problem and How to Fix It, a ground-breaking paper detailing the inner workings of the military justice system compared to its civilian counterpart. His work on criminal and immigration law has been cited in briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

He testifies before the U.S. Senate and House on national security issues, and recently testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Law of Armed Conflict, Law of War, and the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Before joining the think tank in 2007, Stimson served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs. He advised then-Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates and coordinated the Pentagon’s global detention policy and operations, including at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was chairman of detainee-related panels such as the Defense Senior Leadership Oversight Committee, and the Special Detainee Follow Up Group. He represented the United States before the U.N. in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2006 where he led the DOD delegation in defense of the United States’ Second Period Report on the Convention Against Torture.

An accomplished trial lawyer, Stimson worked as a prosecutor at the local, state and federal levels, where he concentrated on violent crimes such as homicide, sexual assault and domestic violence. A third generation naval officer, Cully also served as a military prosecutor, defense counsel, and recently served as Deputy Chief Judge of the Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary. He continues to serve, with the rank of Captain, as the Commanding Officer of the Preliminary Hearing Unit.

Stimson’s thousands of media interviews and appearances include Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, BBC, NPR and C-SPAN. He has been quoted by most major newspapers, including The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and London Times.

A businessman and educator by training, Stimson is Vice Chairman of his family’s commercial real estate company in Seattle. Before 9/11, he was a Vice President at a New York-based global financial services and insurance brokerage firm where ran the private equity mergers and acquisitions D.C. operation.

Stimson holds a law degree from the George Mason University School of Law, where he later taught as an Adjunct Professor of Law. He is a graduate of Kenyon College, where he was Captain of the men’s varsity soccer team and an All-Conference player. He also studied at Harvard and Exeter universities. An avid soccer player and triathlete, he serves as Chairman of the Board of the United States Soccer Foundation, the charitable giving arm of U.S. Soccer.


A person listed as a contributor has spoken or otherwise participated in Federalist Society events, publications, or multimedia presentations. A person's appearance on this list does not imply any other endorsement or relationship between the person and the Federalist Society. In most cases, the biographical information on a person's "contributor" page is provided directly by the person, and the Federalist Society does not edit or otherwise endorse that information. The Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues. All expressions of opinion by a contributor are those of the contributor.

Click to play: Panel One: Detention, Interrogation and Trial of Terrorist Suspects – 10 Years Later

Panel One: Detention, Interrogation and Trial of Terrorist Suspects – 10 Years Later

2012 National Security Symposium

The legal ambiguities associated with the classification, interrogation and adjudication of al Qaeda members alleged...