Even Republican Lawyers Slapping Back at Liz Cheney’s Attack on ‘Al Qaeda Seven’

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After Liz Cheney's "Keep America Safe" group questioned the "values" of the seven members of the Obama Justice Department who had offered services in some way or another to suspected terrorists, she immediately experienced pushback from some fellow members of the right. Over the weekend, nineteen prominent Republican lawyers signed a letter defending the Obama administration workers, who had worked on a pro bono basis at times for Guantánamo detainees and who Cheney et al. had taken to calling the "Al Qaeda seven." The list of GOPers objecting to the attacks by Cheney (and fellow KAS backer William Kristol) include Ken Starr, Philip Zelikow, John Bellinger III, and even Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. According to Politico, even high-ranking members from the Bush administrations, like David Rivkin and Lee Casey, who have been among the most vocal defenders of the Bush detainee policies, call the attacks "shameful."

Here are some of the key sections of the letter, which echo sentiments written in an article by Bush lawyer Ted Olson all the way back in 2007:


The past several days have seen a shameful series of attacks on attorneys in the Department of Justice who, in previous legal practice, either represented Guantánamo detainees or advocated for changes to detention policy. As attorneys, former officials, and policy specialists who have worked on detention issues, we consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications

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. People come to serve in the Justice Department with a diverse array of prior private clients; that is one of the department’s strengths. The War on Terror raised any number of novel legal questions, which collectively created a significant role in judicial, executive and legislative forums alike for honorable advocacy on behalf of detainees. In several key cases, detainee advocates prevailed before the Supreme Court. 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.

For more on Liz Cheney and her relationship with her father, Dick, read Joe Hagan's in-depth profile from this week's New York.

Republicans scold Liz Cheney [Politico]