Ever since Liz Cheney & Bill Crystal, through their neoconservative group Keep America Safe, aired this ad against Obama's Justice Dept. lawyers -- see here in Rachel Maddow's reporting of it, as well as in this Countdown segment with Lawrence O'Donnell & The Nation's David Corn -- all hell has broken loose as Conservatives turn on little Dick for betraying two centuries of legal tradition going all the way back to President John Adams & the Boston Massacre trials, labeling the attacks as worse than McCarthyism.
After calling the Justice Department, the "Department of Jihad," ultra conservative Powerline Blog called Liz's attack as bad as McCarthy (via Sam Stein):
Then, 9 prominent Bush administration officials (as well as other lawyers) denounced Liz Cheney in a statement condemning the ads as a "shameful series of attacks...both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications, " referring to John Adams & the Boston Massacre trial:
On Friday, the conservative blog Power Line put up a post titled, "An Attack That Goes Too Far." Author Paul Mirengoff, called Cheney's effort to brand DoJ officials the "Al Qaeda 7," "vicious" and "unfounded" even if it was right to criticize defense lawyers for voluntarily doing work on behalf of Gitmo detainees.
Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, contrasting what Cheney is doing to the anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and, in some respects, finding it worse.
"It could be worse than some of the assertions made by McCarthy, depending on some of the validity of those assertions," Mirengoff said, explaining that at least McCarthy was correct in pinpointing individuals as communist sympathizers. "It is just baseless to suggest that [these DoJ officials] share al Qaeda values... they didn't actually say it but I think it was a fair implication of what they were saying."
Sen. Lindsey Graham condemned the ad, telling The Cable on Tuesday, thgouh I'm not sure rabic conservatives take anythign Graham says at this point seriously: "I'm with Kenneth Starr on this one.
The past several days have seen a shameful series of attacks on attorneys in the Department of Justice who, in previous legal practice, either represented Guantanamo detainees or advocated for changes to detention policy. As attorneys, former officials, and policy specialists who have worked on detention issues, we consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications.
The American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients is at least as old as John Adams's representation of the British soldiers charged in the Boston massacre. People come to serve in the Justice Department with a diverse array of prior private clients; that is one of the department's strengths. The War on Terror raised any number of novel legal questions, which collectively created a significant role in judicial, executive and legislative forums alike for honorable advocacy on behalf of detainees. In several key cases, detainee advocates prevailed before the Supreme Court. To suggest that the Justice Department should not employ talented lawyers who have advocated on behalf of detainees maligns the patriotism of people who have taken honorable positions on contested questions and demands a uniformity of background and view in government service from which no administration would benefit.
Such attacks also undermine the Justice system more broadly. In terrorism detentions and trials alike, defense lawyers are playing, and will continue to play, a key role. Whether one believes in trial by military commission or in federal court, detainees will have access to counsel. Guantanamo detainees likewise have access to lawyers for purposes of habeas review, and the reach of that habeas corpus could eventually extend beyond this population. Good defense counsel is thus key to ensuring that military commissions, federal juries, and federal judges have access to the best arguments and most rigorous factual presentations before making crucial decisions that affect both national security and paramount liberty interests. To delegitimize the role detainee counsel play is to demand adjudications and policymaking stripped of a full record. Whatever systems America develops to handle difficult detention questions will rely, at least some of the time, on an aggressive defense bar; those who take up that function do a service to the system.
John Bellinger III
Kenneth W. Starr
Charles "Cully" D. Stimson
"I've been a military lawyer for almost 30 years, I represented people as a defense attorney in the military that were charged with some pretty horrific acts, and I gave them my all. This system of justice that we're so proud of in America requires the unpopular to have an advocate and every time a defense lawyer fights to make the government do their job, that defense lawyer has made us all safer."Here's Ken Starr expressing his dismay with her on Countdown late last week to Lawrence O'Donnell. Yes, that Ken Starr:
Starr speaks out against Liz Cheney attack on DOJHere’s nutter neo-con Lawyer David Rivkin turning on her on last night's Countdown:
March 8: Former Independent Special Counsel Ken Starr explains why conservative lawyers and policy experts accuse the ad by Liz Cheney’s “Keep America Safe” organization of undermining the American justice system.
Cheney keeps America scaredWell, Jon Stewart is now warning Liz Cheney's conservative critics of Justice Department lawyers who defended terrorist detainees as "the Al-Qaeda Seven": "Someone's Getting Invited On A Quail Hunt!"
March 9: Lawyer David Rivkin explains the danger of Liz Cheney’s legal opinions.
The Hurt Docket
Liz Cheney wants to know the identity of Justice Department lawyers who represented terror detainees.
Add former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey to little Dick's critics, denouncing the ad campaign:
Most recently, lawyers now employed at the Justice Department who, while in private practice, volunteered to represent suspected terrorist detainees, or argued legal positions supporting various rights of such detainees, have been portrayed as in-house counsel to al Qaeda.
This is all of a piece, and what it is a piece of is something both shoddy and dangerous. A lawyer who represents a party in a contested matter has an ethical obligation to make any and all tenable legal arguments that will help that party.