The Gitmo Nine

I posted this at the other site, but thought I’d mirror it here.

Liz Cheney’s group has come out with an ad I find highly disturbing:

It’s one thing to worry about a conflict of interest in the Justice Department. But this goes a step beyond, tarring any lawyer who works on behalf of terror suspects as essentially a member of Al-Quaeda. As such, it’s pure McCarthysim.

The attorneys who challenged the Bush administration’s national-security policies saw themselves as fulfilling their legal obligations by fighting an unconstitutional power grab. At heart, this was a disagreement over process: Should people accused of terrorism be afforded the same human rights and due process protections as anyone else in American custody? But rather than portray the dispute as a conflict over what is and isn’t within constitutional bounds, conservatives argue that anyone who opposed the Bush administration’s policies is a traitor set to undermine America’s safety from within the Justice Department.

“Terrorist sympathizers,” wrote National Review’s Andrew McCarthy in September, “have assumed positions throughout the Obama administration.”

We can disagree about military commissions, civil trials and the extent of terror suspects’ rights. But when you accuse those with whom you disagree of treason, you’ve crossed a line.

Even former military prosecutors have expressed views similar to those of the “Gitmo Nine.” Col. Morris Davis (retired) served as the former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay military commissions and has since argued that they should be abandoned. But initially, when the commissions were formed, he volunteered to be chief defense counsel. “I thought for the good of our system, they needed zealous representation,” says Davis. He dismissed the charge that having represented a detainee indicated “sympathy” for terrorist goals. “I don’t think that anyone, because they signed up to represent a detainee means they’ve signed up with al-Qaeda.”

Davis later points out that John Adams regarded his zealous defense of the British soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre as one of the noblest acts of his life (it’s a highlight of both the book and the mini-series). We’ve had no problems with lawyers who defended Nazi war criminals or commie traitors. But let someone advocate for a terror suspect and the world is ending.

And I want to repeat that: terror suspects. Thanks in part to the efforts of these traitorous lawyers, we’ve found out that many of the “worst of the worst” were, in fact, completely innocent of terrorism. But to the Liz Cheneys of the world, we should lock up and torture anyone who might be a terrorist. We should never even bother to find out if they’re actually, you know, terrorists.

(And please don’t come back with the bogus stats of those released who have “returned to fight” until you’ve read this and this.)

If lawyers defended accused child molesters, would Cheney brand them the “Neverland Nine”? Or would she go after Manson’s defense lawyers and claim they want to murder people? Actually, I don’t really want to know the answer to that.

This is not a trivial thing. When you attack lawyers for arguing a case with which you disagree, you are attacking the rule of law itself.

Post Scriptum — In other Right Wing Terrorism Dementia news, you should read Matthew Alexander’s dissection of Marc Thiessen’s pro-torture book. Alexander if a former military interrogator who helped get Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. Thiessen is … a form speech writer for Dick Cheney. Read the whole thing. And yes, as long as Liz Cheney and her ilk are wielding influence with the GOP, this issue remains highly relevant).

Post Post Scriptum — And while we’re on the subject: our weak, spineless President just sent another high-ranking AQ member to spend eternity with 72 people debating whether Captain Picard or Captain Kirk was better.