In the months after the Republicans' electoral loss in 2008 (you do remember they lost, right?), former Vice President Dick "Shooter" Cheney tossed aside years of decorum and tradition to emerge as one of the most vocal and harshly partisan critics of President Obama and the way he's been conducting the country's defense.
It is clear once again," Cheney said, "that President Obama is trying to pretend that we are not at war."
Since Shooter was on Fox News when he said this, no one there bothered to point out that President Obama had stepped up troop levels in Afghanistan, that he'd increased cooperation with Pakistan (resulting in the capture of the Taliban's operational commander) and that strikes by high-tech Predator drones were knocking off senior terrorist leaders at a fearsome rate.
Because who needs a bunch of pesky facts and follow-up questions, anyway? Certainly not Faux News.
Then Dick's daughter Liz started chiming in, singing the same song, and encountering the same lack of challenge from the so-called "liberal" media. But when Liz, her buddy Bill Kristol and their organization "Keep America Safe" started running ads about a group of Justice Department lawyers they dubbed the "Al-Qaeda Seven," even some voices on the far right cried foul
The ad, in fine McCarthyite style, criticizes Eric Holder's Justice Department (which they refer to as the "Department of Jihad") for employing "nine lawyers who represented or advocated for terrorist detainees." Holder, the ad says ominously, has only provided the names of two of the lawyers, leaving the so-called "Al-Qaeda Seven."
"Whose values do they share?" the ad asks, then urges people to call AG Holder and demand that he reveal their names. Or fire them. Or something. The ad also provides directions to KAS's Web site, where, with a simple mouse click, one can make donations of anywhere from $10 to $5,000, depending, one supposes, on the level of panic the ad manages to to create
Even some former Bushistas said "whoa" to this one. Michael Mukasey, who took over as attorney general after Alberto Gonzales resigned in disgrace, called the ad campaign "both shoddy and dangerous," going on to say that lawyers aren't "automatically to be identified with their former clients and regarded as a fifth column within the Justice Department."
In March 8, a letter signed by 19 former Bush administration lawyers, including former Solicitor General Ted Olson, stated that the attacks were "both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications," and stated that the Cheney witch hunt "undermined the justice system."
Moving farther right, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said, "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." Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a wingnut's wingnut if ever there was one, agreed that calling the DOJ the Department of Jihad is "over the top and unjustified."
I've got to tell you, folks, if you're too far out there for Jeff Sessions, you're so far beyond the horizon you may never make it back to sanity.
Both Graham and Sessions, it should be noted, supported the Military Commissions Act. You know, the one that provides for those "tribunals" of which the Right is so enamored. The one that provides for - guess what? A right to counsel for detainees
I will answer one of the ad's questions, which is "whose values they share." They share the values of an American who jeopardized his reputation and his livelihood to take on the case of several men accused of an infamous crime in which American patriots died. Not because he didn't love freedom, but because he did.
His name was John Adams, and he agreed to defend the British soldiers accused of cold-blooded murder in the Boston Massacre because, he said, "no man in a free country should be denied the right to counsel and a fair trial." He was threatened, both politically and physically, and he reportedly lost up to half of his law practice for a time, but he later called taking (and winning) the case "the greatest service I ever did for my country."
Part of me is sorry that Adams is not here today to remind us of where real American values lie. Part of me is glad he's not here to see what some people are advocating, supposedly in the name of freedom. I think he'd be ashamed.