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Tilting at Windmills

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March 5, 2010

CHENEY FACES BLOWBACK OVER CHEAP DOJ SMEAR.... This week, a right-wing outfit called "Keep America Safe," led in part by Liz Cheney, launched a pretty disgusting smear against nine Justice Department attorneys. The group includes lawyers working in the Department of Justice who fought the Bush administration's treatment of suspected terrorists as unconstitutional.

The vile attacks from Cheney and her cohorts seek to characterize the attorneys -- who actually deserve the nation's thanks -- as terrorist-sympathizing traitors. Following Cheney's lead, Fox News called the Justice Department officials the "al Qaeda Nine." (Cheney's ad refers to the attorneys as "the al Qaeda Seven," and asks, "Whose values do they share?")

Ken Gude, a human-rights expert with the Center for American Progress, said the other day, "This is exactly what Joe McCarthy did. Not kind of like McCarthyism; this is exactly McCarthyism."

In a development that helps bolster some of my faith in humanity, more than a few voices on the right are declaring, publicly, that Liz Cheney has gone too far. Her attacks actually seem to have generated a backlash.

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, declaring that what Cheney was doing was comparable if not potentially worse than the notorious anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

Peter Keisler, a former assistant attorney general in the Bush administration who led the administration's defense against lawsuits filed by Gitmo detainees, also denounced the "Keep America Safe" efforts to attack the Justice Department attorneys. John Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said he, too, deplores Cheney's smear job.

Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor of the Cheneys' beloved military commissions, went even further, calling the attacks against the attorneys "absolutely outrageous."

The president of the American Bar Association has also weighed in, describing Cheney's hatchet job as "a divisive and diversionary tactic" to impugn "the character of lawyers who have sought to protect the fundamental rights of unpopular clients."

And as far as ideological consistency is concerned, if the "Keep America Safe" ad is to be believed, former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson are also terrorist sympathizers.

I realize the political establishment and the mainstream media have limitless tolerance for even the most vile right-wing hacks, but if there's still a line of decency that even the most contemptible Republicans cannot cross, Liz Cheney and "Keep America Safe" have crossed it. If it's possible for far-right voices to be permanently discredited in the eyes of the chattering class, Cheney seems to fit the bill.

Steve Benen 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Inasmuchas there as still lots of prominent rightwingers (Buchanan, Coulter) who openly admire McCarthy, it will be interesting so see if the backlash gathers momentum. I guess we have to wait for grand marshal Rush to pick a side.

Posted by: martin on March 5, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Dick and chick Cheney are revolting and mean and ruthless. Again, every false to fact report and characterization these people put forth must be countered instantly lest the idea get embeded in the popular mind. This also means repetition of the facts. "they lie and here's the facts," No need to repeat the lie.

Posted by: Kurt on March 5, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Let's face it, she's a freak and the news media has become a side show. They're a perfect match.

Posted by: SaintZak on March 5, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Most teabaggers think that McCarthy has been vindicated (as does the Texas school board and the text book they are pushing) so I don't thin this is going to hurt anyones feelings.

The Chaney's will wear the label like a medal.

Posted by: phg on March 5, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile the Democrats have been cowering in fear and waiting for the likes of Ted Olson to defend them. They are terrified of resisting the fear campaign, and are shredding the constitution under Republican pressure.

Posted by: Joe Buck on March 5, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Who the f is Liz Cheney?

Posted by: The Lucky Sea Men on March 5, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

United States President Barack Obama contributes to this slide into McCarthyism and worse when he:

1) Denigrates civil servants in the US government to stake a "Clintonian sweet spot" with disingenuous triangulatin' as he did yesterday in his "ferverent" speech on health care; and, especially, in this case,

2) setting up a military tribunal instead of the ny city based criminal trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

With the President of the United States already Republican-Lite, who gives a god damn about upcoming elections, the health care reform bill, or any damn thing. Incrementally going in the wrong direction, Mr. President, daily, weekly...

Posted by: neill on March 5, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, thanks to Liz Cheney Rachel Maddow was arrested on her own show and escorted off set in handcuffs!

How far has this infiltration gone?

Surely there must be at least 200 names on a list somewhere, if, indeed, the list made it out of the 1950s!

Posted by: kevo on March 5, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Has anyone anywhere ever explained what "expertise" Liz Cheney brings to the table? Why is she considered an expert on anything? Is having a world-reviled war criminal in the family now a qualification for pundit status?

Posted by: Gummo on March 5, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Cheney will be on one of the weekend shows to expound. There is no such thing as permaently branded as horrible if you are on the right.

Posted by: Argle Bargle on March 5, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

If anyone thinks this permanently discredits Cheney in the eyes of the chattering class, they haven't been paying attention.

Posted by: karen marie on March 5, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you and everyone else giving Kristol a pass on this? Isn't this his handiwork as well as Cheney the Younger's?

Posted by: Jim Pharo on March 5, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

So she is beneath contempt ... which Sunday morning show is she booked for this weekend?

Posted by: Baldrick on March 5, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

This is all part of the same Cheney family defense of torture and the complete twisting of our nation's values while Dick Cheney was vice president.

In their twisted reasoning, anyone that is anti-Cheney, or were against his warped policies while vice president, must be pro-terrorist.

Thus, anyone who was against torture (by whatever name) were anti-Cheney and therefore pro-terrorist, like all those at the FBI who refused to participate in the Cheney/Bush/Rumsfeld/Tenet-authorized use of torture. On the other hand, all the CIA agents and private contractors who tortured detainees (as well as medical "professionals" who monitored the torture sessions) must have been for Cheney's torture revisionism, and therefore staunch anti-terrorists.

Now the lawyers who defended suspected right-wing religious terrorists, as per our most important constitutional provisions, are the targets of this same Cheney family spin.

The solution?

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder should launch comprehensive investigations, in the open, of all Bush/Cheney administration officials who either authorized or participated, from the highest to the lowest, including private contractors, in these U.S. Constitution-busting torture sessions.

Otherwise, the Cheney families' U.S. Constitution-busting attacks will continue and their McCarthyite smears will be repeated over and over again. Either all the torture-culpable parties are held accountable, reaffirming our U.S. Constitution in the process, or the torture culprits will continue to get a free pass, a keep-out-of-jail-free card.

Posted by: The Oracle on March 5, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Look, since Liz Cheney believes in swift punishment and all, without worrying about the details of due process, we need to set the world a good example of how this sort of justice works.

Liz's father, the former vice president, has publically admitted to waterboarding people, and the proper legal punishment for that crime is already on the books and part of the legal record.

So, let's hang this admitted felon from a public gallows next week and thank Liz for giving us the courage to take swift and sure action against heinous criminals.

Posted by: Midland on March 5, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

One point that's been overlooked is that KAS added another grim ornament to their smear campaign yesterday with the allegation that "many" of the prisoners defended by the DOJ lawyers "killed Americans". That's simply false, as I pointed out here:


I wrote to KAS spokesman Aaron Harison asking him to explain which of these "terrorists" killed Americans, and which DOJ lawyers represented them. No surprise, he didn't respond.

Posted by: smintheus on March 5, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

If it's possible for far-right voices to be permanently discredited in the eyes of the chattering class . . .

It's not.

Posted by: Jon on March 5, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

So she is beneath contempt ... which Sunday morning show is she booked for this weekend?
Posted by: Baldrick on March 5, 2010 at 3:38 PM

Hahaha! Though don't be the least bit surprised if she gets her own show, probably within the month on CNN. Along with Wolf Blitzer's shameful performance, that network's long slide into the gutter of McCarthyist trash will be complete.

Posted by: electrolite on March 5, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Who Knew?

Posted by: Liz' sister is a fag on March 5, 2010 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

There's an easy way to shut them up: indict some more hillbillies for torture and make them finger their superiors. Follow it up the line. Cheney would decompensate with panic and discredit himself, in his pants. But that takes a president with something remotely like balls.

Posted by: ~(~balls) on March 5, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kurt @2 - Dick and chick Cheney. HAHA!

Posted by: Gridlock on March 5, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

you have to remember that these kids think McCarthy was praiseworthy

Posted by: Jamie on March 5, 2010 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Who the f is Liz Cheney?"
Liz who?

Posted by: EC Sedgwick on March 5, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Jamie @ 5:44 - It'd break their hearts to learn McCarthy was just another bothersome drunk praying on unassuming Americans to buy him another drink! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 5, 2010 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I happen to belong to a 12-step program (OK I'm a recovering alcoholic) and I few weeks ago I heard a "qualification" (that's when you tell your story) that included a stint at CNN in Atlanta. It explained a good deal, since according to this person most of the staff was both sleep-deprived and coked up for a good deal of the time.

Occasionally I watch Rick Sanchez in the hopes of catching a moment when reality intrudes. But as for the others, if I have the TV on as background when I work, it's usually Law and Order reruns...they seem to catch some of the truth in their fiction (I particularly enjoyed their riff on the Kerik case) while Blitzer and Company just make me nauseous.

Posted by: jrosen on March 5, 2010 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

You know whose values those attorneys share? Those of our Founding Father, John Adams, who defended the British soldiers who perpetrated the Boston Massacre.

One of the commenters at Balloon Juice is trying to birth a meme calling them the "John Adams Seven."

Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Posted by: hamletta on March 5, 2010 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

I think Liz's main goal, in reality, is to make her father seem less repulsive in comparison.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on March 5, 2010 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is kicking Bush/Cheney's ass at terrorist-hunting.

The only way the Obama administration could be more effective in its war on terror would be to arrest Liz's father and try him for war crimes.

That would send a message that people yearning for freedom around the world could truly celebrate.

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