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Tilting at Windmills

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March 4, 2010

RIGHT-WING TARGETS THE 'GITMO NINE'.... I mentioned briefly the other day that Liz Cheney's "Keep America Safe" outfit is smearing Justice Department attorneys with attacks that anyone with even a shred of decency would find contemptible. It's worth considering in more detail.

Adam Serwer has the definitive piece on this.

The "Gitmo Nine" aren't terrorists. They weren't captured fighting for the Taliban. They've made no attempts to kill Americans. They haven't declared war on the United States, nor have they joined any group that has. The "Gitmo Nine" are lawyers working in the Department of Justice who fought the Bush administration's treatment of suspected terrorists as unconstitutional. Now, conservatives are portraying them as agents of the enemy.

In the aftermath of September 11, the Bush administration tried to set up a military-commissions system to try suspected terrorists. The commissions offered few due process rights, denied the accused access to the evidence against them, and allowed the admission of hearsay -- and even evidence gained through coercion or abuse. The Bush administration also sought to prevent detainees from challenging their detention in court. Conservatives argued that the nature of the war on terrorism justified the assertion of greater executive power. In case after case, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the administration's critics.

"These lawyers were advocating on behalf of our Constitution and our laws. The detention policies of the Bush administration were unconstitutional and illegal, and no higher a legal authority than the Supreme Court of the United States agreed," says Ken Gude, a human-rights expert with the Center for American Progress, of the recent assault on the Justice Department. "The disgusting logic of these attacks is that the Supreme Court is in league with al-Qaeda."

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.

The attacks from lowlifes like Cheney and National Review's Andrew McCarthy have been even more vile than their typical nonsense. CAP's Gude told Adam, "This is exactly what Joe McCarthy did. Not kind of like McCarthyism; this is exactly McCarthyism."

Lt. Col. David Frakt, who has represented detainees both in military and civilian courts, added, "The right is treating the lawyers who came up with the justification for torture as heroes, and the lawyers like Katyal who helped restore the rule of law as villains. They've just got their heads screwed on backwards."

I realize that right-wing political hacks are going to engage in some pretty loathsome tactics from time to time. But the crusade against these Justice Department officials obliterates any lines of decency or modern norms, and should permanently discredit the cheap and tasteless attackers.

Steve Benen 10:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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It's amazing that the Tea Party hacks are up in arms because the Obama administration is pushing for better health care insurance, while they were silent during the Bush years when lawyers were cooking up memos to justife torture, FBI agents were looking over people's library records, and civilians were being detained for having the wrong bumperstickers on their cars.

Tell me again, which president was the bigger threat to the constitution?

Posted by: Ian G. on March 4, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

We wouldn't be in this situation if the Justice Department had merely followed the law and international treaty obligations and begun prosecutions of the people who set up the torture regime and carried out the torture. Successful prosecutions would have ended this farce of claiming that torture protected America.

Posted by: Jim Barna on March 4, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently, Cheney and others like her have no faith in the strength of our Constitution.


Posted by: 2Manchu on March 4, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

As long as these vile filth have their masters' money behind them, they'll keep spewing their hatred for the United States of America. So---to shut them down, we have to deny them their "thirty pieces...."

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 4, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

There's not much of a debate going on about torture. Either you believe or you don't. But the Right definitely has the goods when it comes to way Joe Sixpack thinks about it. You don't lose points in this country by appealing to our basest and most fearful instincts. As it stands, this is a test of civilization that can only be won when we shame the Andrew McCarthys and Liz Cheneys out of polite society. Maybe there's some upper-class Klan that can comfortably accommodate these sociopaths. It shouldn't be our discourse that does that.

Posted by: walt on March 4, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Attacking (from your own safe perch) those who speak truth to power is the very definition of immorality. It undermines one of our most important liberties, namely, the equal protection of the weak and unpopular.

The people doing this are nothing but bullies and thugs.

Posted by: leo on March 4, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Decency? Republicans? Shirley, you jest.

Walt sez:" You don't lose points in this country by appealing to our basest and most fearful instincts. "

Exactly right. When Joe Sixpack tunes up the old lady after she steps out of line, he's simply using his God given rights as an American and a MAN.

Constitutional scholarship is for sissies. The neocon motto is "Kill 'em all, and let God sort 'em out."

Posted by: DAY on March 4, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Much like the recently revealed RNC funding strategy document, Republicans are (again) using fear to manipulate voters. Fear of Obama, fear of terrorists being held to the very standard of Law that most other people (i.e., non-oligarch-connected) are held to in this country as making us 'less safe.'

No ideas, just fear. That'd make a nice campaign slogan as we head into the elections, I think.

Posted by: terraformer on March 4, 2010 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Why stop at lawyers who defend accused terrorists? Let's just issue a fatwa against any lawyer who defends a client ruled guilty by a jury.

Posted by: beejeez on March 4, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

They are getting nervous. Good.

Posted by: Maude on March 4, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

But the crusade against these Justice Department officials obliterates any lines of decency or modern norms, and should permanently discredit the cheap and tasteless attackers.

Yes, Cheney and her ilk are cheap, tasteless and profoundly un-American, and their disgusting attacks should permanently discredit them for all time. However, what will happen is that Liz will probably end up with her own show on CNN (desperate as it is to emulate FOX) as well as the usual bookings on the gasbag shows and the teabaggers will hold this modern day McCarthyite up as a hero.

Posted by: electrolite on March 4, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

...the crusade against these Justice Department officials obliterates any lines of decency or modern norms, and should permanently discredit the cheap and tasteless attackers.

Max Cleland

John Kerry

There are no lines of decency, nor is there any word or deed too cheap and tastless to discredit Republicans/Conservatives. Just ask the New York Times and The Washington Post.

The one deadly sin for Republicans is raising taxes to pay for anything that benefits someone else. And even that can be pretended away given enough time (see Ronald Raygun.

Posted by: Winkandanod on March 4, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney is just trying to continue the policies of his administration, which he refuses (like a good Republican) to believe is actually no longer in power. During the Bush regime, lawyers who represented prisoners at Guantanamo were routinely blackballed.

Posted by: T-Rex on March 4, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

The 'legal system' that the Cheneys advocate can take any American citizens off the street, detain them indefinitely for any reason or no reason, keep them in secret prisons, torture them, 'try' them before secret military tribunals with no defense... Is there anyone who doesn't understand what this represents?

Posted by: MattF on March 4, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Cheney in a wig. I guess you can't blame her for being indoctrinated since birth for turning out to be the dumbass she is. Nonetheless Reagan's son somehow found a way to lower the volume on his dad's training and think clearly.

Fox Noise is the big winner. They can lie through their teeth and the Blitzers, Gregorys, Coopers, and the rest of their ilk follow suit. It's amazing that the "silent majority" who voted this socialist in have become muted by the noise...

Posted by: Stevio on March 4, 2010 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

I especially enjoy that I am reading this post and writing this comment from inside the Williams Law Library; who was that, you ask? Why, he was an attorney who represented folks before HUAC and then later was Senator McCarthy's attorney during censure hearings. (Not to mention a bunch of mobsters...but that's another blog post...)

It's almost as if we had some sort of adversarial legal system, wherein people on both sides of the law/issue/crime/whatever would deserve enthusiastic, competent, and fair representation?!


Posted by: alexandrian on March 4, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Is there anyone who doesn't understand what this represents?

Posted by: MattF on March 4, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Teh whole entire South, my friend. The echoes of disgust from the AL conservatives around this lil ole liberal after the June 2008 ruling by the supreme court still ring in my head. These armchair know-it-alls refuse to believe that their personal rights could be in any danger at all.

Posted by: * on March 4, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK


I'm completely on board with your slogan. How's this for a bumper sticker:

"GOP: No Ideas, Just Fear."

Pretty much says it all in five words (even nutwings could probably digest that). I'de buy a dozen.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 4, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

and should permanently discredit the cheap and tasteless attackers.



Posted by: Roddy McCorley on March 4, 2010 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

"They've just got their heads screwed on backwards."

Makes it just that much easier to plant them up their rear ends so they can better fulfill their natural destinies as douche bags.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on March 4, 2010 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but the Cheney family is scum. Every last one of them.

Posted by: kc on March 4, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why does the right wing hate America? And I ask that in all seriousness.

"GOP: No Ideas, Just Fear."

Longer version:

Roosevelt: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
Today's GOP: "We have nothing but fear."
Posted by: noncarborundum on March 4, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I wish somebody would get opposite Liz Cheney on one of those talking head shows and suggest her dad was a Manchurian Candidate groomed for power by Al Qaeda. Every fucking thing Deadeye Dick did--the invasion of Iraq, the proclamation of a "crusade," the torture--was a powerful recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. Every single fucking thing the Bush administration did after 9-11 was exactly the kind of stuff Al Qaeda carried out the attack with a view to manipulating them into. If Dick Cheney hadn't existed, Bin Laden would have had to invent him. I suspect Bin Laden thanked God every night for Dick Cheney.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on March 5, 2010 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK



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