March 11, 2010


Liz Cheney accused of McCarthyism over campaign against lawyers (Chris McGreal, 3/11/11,

Liz Cheney and her organisation, Keep America Safe, have dubbed lawyers who acted on behalf of accused terrorists, and who now work for the department of justice, the "al-Qaida seven". The group has rebranded the justice department the "department of jihad".

Liz Cheney, who trained as a lawyer and served as a deputy assistant secretary of state in the same administration as her father, is backed by some Republican members of congress, relatives of 9/11 victims and parts of the conservative press who have accused the lawyers, some of whom worked pro bono, of "coddling" and "abetting" terrorists.

Keep America Safe – whose mission statement says the current administration is "unwilling to stand up for America" – has recently launched a television attack advert questioning the loyalty of the targeted lawyers and sinisterly asking: Whose values do they share?

But the assault has prompted an unexpected backlash from some former Bush administration lawyers and officials who have joined liberal critics in denouncing the campaign as unAmerican and violating the principle that even the most unpopular defendant is entitled to a lawyer. [...]

The targets of Keep America Safe's campaign include the deputy solicitor general, Neal Katyal, who represented Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan, in a case that led the supreme court to declare the Bush administration's original plan for military tribunals to be unconstitutional.

Even by the normal standards of competing BDS and Conservative Derangement syndromes this topic is generating an usual number of dubious arguments by both sides. Ultimately the big problem is not with the ethics of lawyers choosing to represent despicable clients but with the Justice Department choosing to put them in positions where they may then have influence over the prosecutions of like defendants and attempting, to some degree or another, to obscure the fact that it did so. In other words, it's a huge political problem, regardless of where you come down on the legalisms and professional standards.

Here's the great thing though, this is a president and a party that has argued that serving as a lobbyist leaves one so tainted by association that one is rendered unfit to serve in government in any capacity, whether related to the lobbying activity or not. But, on the other hand, they now insist that having defended terrorists ought to have no influence on whether one is suited to a government position directly related to prosecution of terrorists.

That's just funny.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 11, 2010 7:25 PM
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