Cheney and her small but highly vocal group Keep America Safe know how to prey on people’s worst fears and prejudices. So I’m not all that surprised by their attack on lawyers like Neal Katyal, a Georgetown law professor, now Principal Deputy Solicitor General, who previously argued that the Bush administration’s military commissions were unconstitutional — and convinced a conservative U.S. Supreme Court that he was right.
But there’s another reason Cheney’s latest attack should not have come as a surprise. Consider the timing: late on Friday, February 18, the Department of Justice released a long-delayed report that set out the details of how two Justice Department lawyers, in close contact with the Vice President’s office, wrote a series of legal memos that grossly perverted existing law and longstanding legal precedent to justify some of the most heinous acts of torture and institutionalized abuse of U.S. prisoners in American history.
Yoo and Bybee were in the spotlight, but so were Bush and Dick Cheney’s sanctions for torturing those merely suspected they might be terrorists. Imagine if the same standards were applied to Conservative groups like the Campaign for Liberty to which the shooter in the recent Pentagon shooter belonged. Bedell certainly committed an act of terrorism. This get a mob together, find’em and hang’em mentality is not a train that a rational citizen wants to attach their political beliefs. Historically it has always gotten out of hand and eventually the rope swings in directions that were not intended. That OLC report was not exactly a glowing review of John Yoo or Bybee,
The final OPR report chastises the two OLC lawyers for reaching bizarre legal conclusions that were wholly unsupported by the law.
[ ]…Justice Department lawyer Patrick Philbin at one point asked John Yoo why he included a wholly unsubstantiated section in one of the memos that concluded that the president of the United States, as commander in chief, can completely ignore any law he wanted – such as the prohibition against torture. Yoo said it was in the memo because “they want it in there” — “they” presumably being whoever had requested the opinion.
[ ]…In concluding that Yoo and Bybee exercised “poor judgment” rather than “professional misconduct”, Margolis emphasizes that “his decision should not be viewed as an endorsement of the legal work that underlies these memoranda,” which he notes were “seriously flawed” and represent “an unfortunate chapter in the history of the Office of Legal Counsel.” In Yoo’s case, his conclusions represented a “loyalty to his own ideology and convictions” which “clouded his view of his obligations to his client” and led him to author opinions reflecting “extreme” views of executive power.
The Dick and now Liz Cheney bizarre and sadistic legal mentality has been defeated. Oops, lets start calling Republican lawyers that defended detainees jihadist sympathizers, that’s the ticket to shifting attention away from a deeply troubling and repugnant chapter in U.S. history. Liz Cheney says terrorists have no rights. Also, you’re a terrorist.
When the “al-Qaida Seven” and their two DoJ colleagues fought to defend alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, they weren’t fighting to protect jihadist murderers. They were defending the U.S. Constitution—the great whomping chunks of the Bill of Rights that Cheney and her friends are so eager to write out of existence. They did it because that’s what lawyers are ethically obligated to do. They did it because—as Spencer Ackerman points out—the Military Commissions Act of 2006 expressly provided that detainees get defense lawyers. And they did it, as Jay Bookman notes, for the same reason John Adams agreed to represent British soldiers charged with killing civilians during the Boston Massacre in 1770. Because long before Liz Cheney was born and long after she’s gone, the Bill of Rights requires serious people to take it seriously.
Certainly some serious people have thoughtful differences of opinion on interpretations of the Bill of Rights, but Liz Cheney and her co-conspirator Bill Kristol are tossing it around like a ball of playdough. It’s not that mailable in regards torture. There is an element of gallows humor here. As the tea baggers and other assorted unhinged wing-nuts accuse President Obama of abusing his powers of office, Liz Cheney and Bill Krsitol are still arguing that the office of the president and his appointees have unlimited powers. What they really mean is that anything a conservative does is legal while everything a Democrat does is outside the main stream. Cons like Cheney and Kristol live in a pretty fetid stream.
I demand to see Glenn Reynolds birth certificate and more importantly his law degree, Glenn Harlan Reynolds: Consent of the governed – and the lack thereof
Well, the Declaration of Independence allows for the prospect of altering or abolishing the government we have in order to get a government that’s closer to what we want. That needn’t involve anything as violent as the American Revolution or the Civil War, but the need for change — real, structural change as opposed to campaign-slogan “change” — is becoming more obvious.
In the past, America has managed to reinvent itself without transformations as wrenching as the Civil War or the Revolution. As the legitimacy of our current arrangements becomes increasingly threadbare, it is perhaps worth thinking about how this might be accomplished again. Because when a great beer dies, it’s sad. But when a great nation dies, it’s tragic.
Jesse Taylor rips Glenn a new one here – The Consent Of The Glibertarian and unbossed uses Glenn’s inane logic him in addition to pointing out that Reynolds obviously did not read the entire poll or look up the history of the findings of similar polls ( like when Bush and Reagan were in office) – Further Annals of Illiteracy. The short version is Reynolds rally hated the results of the 2008 elections and hopes we can all remedy the situation without wink-wink, resorting to violence. Reynolds teaches at a law school. The U.S. as beer thing might have worked in better hands such as The Onion, but it dies a horrible death at Reynold’s hand, his talent for droll wit died in infancy.