Far Right conservatives such as Marc Thiessen, Andrew McCarthy and Liz Cheney do have values. They just happen to the values of some of history’s worse regimes and tyrants. The United States has a history which includes lynchings and internment camps. Horrible blemishes on our values. Those kinds of incidents are supposed to serve as history’s warnings, examples of taking the wrong turn and losing sight of ideals. Incidents that happened partly because some Americans let their fears and hate get in the way of basic morality and fidelity to founding principles of justice. Thiessen’s Inconsistency Undermines Claim That Detainee Lawyers Can’t Be Compared To John Adams
Thiessen’s argument that Adams was defending “fellow countrymen” and “not foreign enemies” is clever, but it’s undermined by the fact that some of the lawyers Thiessen and the ad impugn did work on behalf of American citizens. In a National Review blog post promoting his PostPartisan column, Thiessen directly attacks a lawyer who advocated on behalf of a detained American citizen:
Eric Holder vs. John Adams [Marc Thiessen]
I have a piece up for the Washington Post explaining why the al-Qaeda lawyers are wrong to wrap themselves in the mantle of John Adams. Thanks to the spade work of Bill Burck and Dana Perino, we now know why Holder was stonewalling on the identities of the “Al Qaeda 7” — he was one of them! If Holder and co. are simply carrying on the traditions of John Adams, why were they hiding their roles in seeking the release of enemy combatants? If they are proud of their work, why don’t they stand up and say so?
Yesterday, Perino and Burck published an article on National Review Online detailing how Holder contributed to, but neglected to tell the Senate about, an amicus brief to the Supreme Court supporting Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was held as an enemy combatant. Another one of the lawyers smeared by the ad, Joseph Guerra, now Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General, worked on a brief urging that the Supreme Court hear Padilla’s case. Another DoJ lawyer, Assistant Attorney General Tony West, worked on the case of “American Taliban” Johh Walker Lindh, an American citizen.
The discrepancy between Thiessen’s Post Partisan argument and the facts is indicative of his arguments in general. In discussing another one of Thiessen’s inconsistent arguments, Time’s Michael Scherer — who considers Thiessen’s vocal crusade to defend the Bush administration’s torture policies “a good thing” — remarked that he was “disappointed with the quality of Thiessen’s arguments, which seem to be designed more for cable news soundbites than for serious discussion.”
Theissen also does not make the distinction, as fine as it may be, that American colonists were a special type of British subject and the colonies had charters and agreements with King George that those who protested at the Boston massacre though the King had betrayed. The British soldiers fired on civilians. Rowdy civilians, but civilians. The colonists did ot decide as the pro tortrue/ pro assumption of guilt far Right conservatives such as Theissen would do – skip the trial and hang the soldiers immediately. The soldiers were indicted not by King George, but by the colonial government. Many Conservatives are constantly rewriting history to serve their agenda.
Orin Kerr also has a post up responding to Theissen, Lawyers, Treason, and Deception: A Response to Andrew McCarthy
Consider McCarthy’s basic argument that lawyers who represented detainees “aided the enemy in wartime,” and should normally be guilty of treason. If that’s true, isn’t the federal judiciary, and aren’t the Justices of the Supreme Court, also guilty of treason? In fact, aren’t the judges the kingpins of this treasonous plot to “hurt the war effort”? After all, lawyers only make arguments to judges. It doesn’t actually help detainees to make argument courts reject. It’s up to the judges to rule one way or the other. If the lawyers are aiding the enemy, they’re only minor players: It’s the judges, and especially the Justices, who are the real guilty parties, as they’re the ones that actually help the detainees by ruling in their favor. Does McCarthy think the Justices of the Supreme Court are guilty of aiding the enemy, and that (if we treat them like everybody else) they should be “indicted for coming to the enemy’s aid during wartime”?
Second, McCarthy’s claims about the right to counsel strike me as just wrong. The Bush Administration had initially taken the view that Yaser Hamdi, detained as an enemy combatant, did not have a right to counsel. The Administration caved when the case got to the Supreme Court, though, and the Supreme Court had this to say about Hamdi’s right to counsel….
A decidedly conservative and usually wankish Supreme Court ruled,
Hamdi asks us to hold that the Fourth Circuit also erred by denying him immediate access to counsel upon his detention and by disposing of the case without permitting him to meet with an attorney. Brief for Petitioners 19. Since our grant of certiorari in this case, Hamdi has been appointed counsel, with whom he has met for consultation purposes on several occasions, and with whom he is now being granted unmonitored meetings. He unquestionably has the right to access to counsel in connection with the proceedings on remand. No further consideration of this issue is necessary at this stage of the case.
Kerr also points out that the same court decided that yes non-citizens also have a right to counsel. The instance in which an innocent Afghanistan taxi driver was picked up and tortured is one of many testaments to the bone headed view of the law taken up by Theissen, McCarthy and Cheney. A view which assumes guilt in each and every circumstance where someone is arrested. Think of the millions we could save by doing away with the courts or correctional facilities and just having assassination squads.
David Luban at Balkinization also responds to right-wingers Andrew McCarthy, Marc Thiessen and former AG Michael Mukasey, A False Analogy: Detainee Lawyers and Torture Lawyers
Thiessen has no use for moral equivalence: for him, torture lawyers are good and detainee lawyers are the equivalent of mob lawyers. But, like Mukasey, he sees a parallel between the two sets of criticisms, and agrees that those who criticize the torture lawyers but not the detainee lawyers are using a double standard, probably for illicit political reasons.
That would include me, since I called the Cheney attacks McCarthyism and have criticized the torture lawyers for years.
But in fact, the parallel is completely bogus. What makes the Cheney attacks McCarthyism is guilt by association, wrapped in innuendo, and cynically appealing to paranoia: Because you represented a detainee, you very likely sympathize with Al Qaeda, and we need to smoke you out.
Nobody ever criticized the torture lawyers because of who they represented, and nobody questioned their loyalty. The criticisms were on three completely different grounds: first, that they made frivolous arguments to get around the law; second, that they violated their ethical and constitutional obligation to give candid, independent advice to the president; and third, that they facilitated a misbegotten plan to torture captives.
Yoo, wrapped in a blanket of arrogance has admitted he found justification for torture because the administration “they want it in there”.There was no legal reasoning behind Yoo and Bybee’s. They took the desires of their boss, wrote them down and passed purely political opinions off as legal ones.
It is no coincidence that most of those anxious to defend the legal premise that anyone suspected of being a terrorist is not entitled to counsel are also defenders of torture as a matter of policy. Those beliefs are joined at the hip. Assuming guilt is the only way one can remotely began to justify torture. Exploring the Bush Torture Regime’s SERE Origins
As Cato Vice President Gene Healy says “Imagine if, shortly after 9/11, someone had told you that the US government would adopt an interrogation policy based on Chinese Communist techniques designed to elicit false confessions. You’d have thought that person was pretty cynical.” But that’s what they did. Really. SERE training is designed to help stiffen soldiers’ resistance to the sort of torture the North Vietnamese used to “break” John McCain and force him to “confess” to all manner of crimes. It specifically arises out of the experience of American detainees in the Korean War to imitate tactics applied by Communist regimes for the purpose of deriving false confessions. And why shouldn’t it? That’s what torture is good for.