Eugene Robinson: 'Al-Qaeda 7' smear campaign is an assault on American values

This is from Eugene Robinson's op-ed yesterday about Liz Cheney's and her attacks on the Justice Dept. Lawyers who represent terrorist suspects:

The word "McCarthyism" is overused, but in this case it's mild. Liz Cheney, the former vice president's ambitious daughter, has in her hand a list of Justice Department lawyers whose "values" she has the gall to question. She ought to spend the time examining her own principles, if she can find them.

A group that Liz Cheney co-chairs, called Keep America Safe, has spent the past two weeks scurrilously attacking the Justice Department officials because they "represented or advocated for terrorist detainees" before joining the administration. In other words, they did what lawyers are supposed to do in this country: ensure that even the most unpopular defendants have adequate legal representation and that the government obeys the law.


But there I go again, taking the whole thing seriously. This is really part of a death-by-a-thousand-cuts strategy to wound President Obama politically. The charge of softness on terrorism -- or terrorist suspects -- is absurd; Obama has brought far more resources and focus to the war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan than the Bush-Cheney administration cared to summon. Since Obama's opponents can't attack him on substance, they resort to atmospherics. They distort. They insinuate. They sully. They blow smoke.

This time, obviously, they went too far. But the next Big Lie is probably already in the works. Scorched-earth groups like Keep America Safe may just be pretending not to understand our most firmly established and cherished legal principles, but there is one thing they genuinely don't grasp: the concept of shame.

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