Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why the "al Qaeda 7" Matters in the Legal War on Terror

Is this a case of smear or transparency?

Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy, The Cable:
Several former Justice Department officials have criticized the group Keep America Safe, which is led by Liz Cheney and William Kristol, for its attacks on the department for hiring lawyers who have defended terror suspects in the past, including one particularly controversial ad calling some of them the "al Qaeda 7."

"The American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients is at least as old as John Adams's representation of the British soldiers charged in the Boston massacre," reads a letter organized by the Brookings Institution's Benjamin Wittes and signed by David Rivkin, Lee Casey, and Philip Zelikow, among other prominent Republican lawyers.

"To suggest that the Justice Department should not employ talented lawyers who have advocated on behalf of detainees maligns the patriotism of people who have taken honorable positions on contested questions and demands a uniformity of background and view in government service from which no administration would benefit."

Why does this matter, and go beyond "talented lawyers taking honorable positions" by lawyering up on behalf of "accused" terrorists who wish to kill Americans? Because in the "war on terror", we may be winning it on the battlefield and in some cases, behind the scenes; but in the court of law, thanks to such organizations as the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU, America has been on the losing side of 3 of the 4 major war on terror cases that have come before the Supreme Court.

And if these are just honorable, patriotic lawyers doing their honorable duties, then Eric Holder and the Obama Administration really should have no objections to the transparency, should they?

Thomas Joscelyn takes a look at their body of work. Marc Thiessen devotes an entire chapter ("Double Agents") in Courting Disaster to the lawyers involved in defending al Qaeda terrorists, and their connections to Eric Holder. (See Thiessen's op-ed in WaPo here; and if you are so inclined, Eugene Robinson's attack on Liz Cheney and Keep America Safe here).

Andrew McCarthy also weighs in on why this issue matters.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Blogger SkyePuppy said...

As I recall from the John Adams mini-series (I read McCullough's biography, but it was too long ago to remember), the British soldiers came to Adams to ask him to represent them.

The Al Qaeda 7 (or their law firm) apparently volunteered to represent the terrorists. Big difference.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 7:30:00 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

SkyePuppy is correct. Plus, in the case of Adams, he didn't work for the government for another 17 or so yrs after representing the soldiers - who were also known as the police at the time.

Monday, March 15, 2010 7:46:00 AM  

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