Cheney to lawyers: “drop dead”

Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, appears to have inherited her father’s disdain for the niceties of constitutional principles.  The former vice president was well-known throughout his tenure in that job, for missing no opportunity to praise the use of torture (which he referred to euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation techniques”) against those suspected of violating US anti-terrorism laws, and for often belittling those who believed that the Bill of Rights might actually apply to those charged with committing acts of terrorism.

Mr. Cheney’s daughter, now herself a darling of the GOP, has been burnishing her credentials as a chip off the old block.  From her perch as chair of the recently-formed, neo-conservative “Keep America Safe,” Ms. Cheney has publicly mocked lawyers at the US Department of Justice for having engaged in what she believes to have been a most un-American of activities — previously providing legal advice or counsel to persons accused of commiting acts of terrorism in violation of American law.

Apparently, at least for some defendants in our system of justice, the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which among other things, guarantees to those accused of a criminal offense the right to have counsel in their defense, now occupies a place on that lengthening list of rights enumerated in our Constitution that the Cheney clan has decided we no longer need.

In fact, in Cheney World, lawyers who dared to provide legal counsel for those facing such serious charges as committing acts of terrorism should be forever thereafter barred from serving in any government job; and also probably should be branded on their forhead with a scarlet “T” (for “terrorism lover”). 

A recent video solicitation for Keep America Safe made this point graphically, when it chided Attorney General Holder for not “releasing” the names of certain Justice Department lawyers who in their previous careers had something to do with providing legal counsel for alleged terrorists.  The video called these US lawyers serving in the Justice Department, the “Al Qaeda Seven.”

While this disgraceful pandering to the extreme right undoubtedly will resonate with Ms. Cheney’s family — both her biological family and her extended political family — her actions went beyond the pale for at least one group of Republicans.  A group of lawyers who served previously under Republican presidents has issued a public denunciation of Ms. Cheney’s tactics; calling them “unjust,” “destructive” and “shameful.”  The letter was signed by former Independent Counsel Ken Starr and fomer Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, among others.

Unfortunately, the well-reasoned and historially-sound arguments made by these distinguished barristers will likely fall on deaf ears in Republican circles on Capitol Hill.  Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), for example, continues his drive to ferret out terrorist-hugging lawyers in the Obama Administration.  And Liz Cheney already has accepted an invite to speak next month at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, where her cries to tar and feather Justice Department lawyers for having represented individuals she and her father don’t like, will almost certainly be met by rousing cheers.

Former Vice-president and President John Adams, who earlier in his legal career represented the highly-unpopular British “Redcoats” accused of shooting civilians in the Boston Massacre, must be turning in his grave.  But here, above ground, the most recent former vice president beams at his daughter as she trashes public servants for putting constiutional principles to work in our justice system.

142 comments Add your comment

Rightwing Troll

March 10th, 2010
6:29 am

Amen brother.


March 10th, 2010
6:31 am

Maybe Ms Cheney is being a bit extreme, but why are we offering help to these people? I do not believe we should stop them from having representation, maybe even encourage that they find some and offer a way to do so, phone a friend maybe? But provide to provide an American lawyer to defend someone fighting to abolish the American way of life is counterproductive, and is paid for by every soldier who dies protecting us. Wait, this dose define the current democratic party’s way of thinking, lets pay for stupidly with American blood by helping terrorist to become free so they can kill more of us.

Joel Edge

March 10th, 2010
6:43 am

The problem started when they weren’t named. It gave the appearance of hiding something. Did they think the American people would suddenly appear with pitchforks and torches. It’s insulting.


March 10th, 2010
6:44 am

Maybe there is more to the story than what this writer one-sidedly portrays. Civil liberties that U.S. citizens enjoy are probably the best in the world. Our court system is expensive to run. I certainly do not want to pay for multiple trials for terrorists. Leave acts for war left to the military tribunal system.

Jack Larson

March 10th, 2010
6:52 am

Barr, both parties are the bane of this country. Both are self-serving. However, when anyone in government retires or gets voted out, turns around to represent a foreign national because of their connections, then they should be put in long term prison immediately. They have discharged their office at the expense, once again, of the American people. That is treasonous. Lawyers…99.9% are egotistical worthless animals.


March 10th, 2010
7:00 am

In perfect Cheney World, our human rights doctrine would be parallel to the likes of Burma or Belarus. One truth, proudly served by the Master wrapped in American flag. Luckily, we the people still believe in Constitution over dictatorship. Or at least some of us do.

OMG she's 43 WHAT.

March 10th, 2010
7:06 am

When I read she was 43 I was like forty what? that an old looking woman. Oh and she making that money off fearmongering.

William of Orange

March 10th, 2010
7:19 am

When the former Veep is convicted of war crimes in The Hague, I expect Liz to publicly smear the lawyers who tried to defend a convicted war criminal in Court.


March 10th, 2010
7:24 am

There’s nothing wrong with releasing the names of lawyers who have defended terrorists. They decided to take that action, everyone should know about the action they took. It’s known as responsibility – you do something, you take the consequences of what you did.

You reference Mr. Adams. Read the history and you will see that Mr. Adams did in fact suffer great public disdain. He was open in defending the British soldiers on points of law regarding the orders under which they served. One key difference was, and remains, the law of the land applied to the soldiers of the Crown. That’s where the dots no longer connect on the current issue. Terrorists from other countries are not entitled to the protection of USA law.

Bob, I would have liked you to also address the openness of the current DOJ folk regarding making public the names of our CIA and other agents protecting the USA. So, why is it OK to tell the world names/photos of our spies, but not OK to release the names of lawyers who defend our enemies?

You’re way off base on this one Bob.

Face facts, Mr. Holder benefits greatly from defending terrorists – personally, financially and most likely in the future. Unfortunately for us, and criminally for him and his colleagues, that is not his job at present, and it is in direct violation of the oath he swore.

Mr. Holder should be removed from office immediately.



March 10th, 2010
7:24 am

It’s called the 6th Amendment to the Constitution. If you don’t like it, get out of my country, pinko.


A dad

March 10th, 2010
7:27 am

When I law school, I was very surprised to find a classmate of mine was planning on practicing criminal defense. Until that point he had been very conversative in thought and deed, and I thought his career choice odd in light of those facts. When I asked him why, he responded “the system is only as good as it’s weakest link.”
I am no supported of terrorism, and truly believe we are in an undeclared holy war with radical Islam. Do terrorists deserve attorneys like Garland and Shapiro et al on the public nickel? No. But if they can afford them privately, so be it. That’s how our judicial system is meant to work, or at least the last time I was in court Lady Justice still wasn’t peeking out from underneath her blindfold.

An American

March 10th, 2010
7:29 am

It comes down to this, The Bill Of Rights was written in America, by Americans, for Americans. It was intended to protect the rights of Americans, NOT THE WORLD! Their rules, in their country are different. They committed crimes against Americans as FORIGEN NATIONALS. They have NO rights in this country. Our Bill of Rights and our Constitution were written to set US apart from the rest of the world. The same crimes against their country might allow them to speak, or give contradiction in evidence. They might be allowed a court appointed lawyer, who has thier guilty fate pre-decided, and they would face certian death penality when (not if) found quilty.
The terrorists are enemy combatatants, hell-bent on destroying this country, the same as any army attacking this soil. They should be treated as such, in a millitay court, millitary rules, and millitary judgement. It was the road they chose to follow, let them walk it, and when they drop off the edge, others may travel a different route.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 10th, 2010
7:33 am

I respectfully disagree with our esteemed host. I am an attorney, and I have frequently represented criminal defendants. I undoubtedly have a bias formed by those years of representing drug dealers and small time users, a bias that would decriminalize all such victimless crimes. I know many disagree with my use of the term “victimless,” and that is the point of my argument. Those of us with biases ought not be setting policy in the area of our biases. That is it “crime” so cogently exposed by Ms. Cheney.

L A Smith

March 10th, 2010
7:45 am

Barr lecturing on the Constitutional Law is like Bill Clinton lecturing on marital fidelity. It just don’t wash.


March 10th, 2010
7:50 am

I will never understand how someone that calls themselves a Conservative could support the decidedly extreme positions of the Cheney’s. Today’s “Conservative’s” like to hold themselves out as defenders of the Constitution but it seems that only holds true when convenient.


March 10th, 2010
7:50 am

I occasionally agree with you and this is one time that I do. For some folks, the Constitution only applies when it is convenient or easy for them. Why should those lawyers be named unless they want to be? Civil liberties went out the door as well as decency and civlility in the Cheney years.


March 10th, 2010
8:01 am

Leaving aside issues of tone, I think it’s fair to say the issue as the same if mafia defense lawyers were brought in to work on mafia prosecution in the Justice Department. People would want to know who they were and whether they provided defense merely as part of their business as a lawyer or because of related beliefs in the correct punishment of the wrongdoers.


March 10th, 2010
8:02 am

Liz Cheney is the Brittany Spears of he neo-con world. She is a carefully designed character, who spouts sound-bite nonsense to feed a very specific demographic audience. She doesn’t care about America’s “safety” or “terrorism” or the Constitution. She cares about saying what needs to be said (publicly or via DVD) to generate income for her “think tank”. If you replace “terrorism” with “climate change” she’s Al Gore and nothing more. She is an annoying gadlfy. Like him or not (and I do not), at least her father was/is a ruthless, coniving, political operative, and not a whining malcontent.


March 10th, 2010
8:06 am

Laws in this country apply to all those who are within its borders. Not just the residents or the citizens, but the visitors as well, be they tourists, workers, or terrorists. Same goes for other countries (think Haiti missionary “orphan” adoption group).

If by enemy combatant you really mean “prisoner of war we don’t want to afford the rights guaranteed by Geneva”, then yes, they are just that. If this is truly a war that we are in, which I believe it is, then these people should be treated as prisoners of war.

Agreed with the sentiments expressed above about footing the bill for their legal defense. However, if they are guaranteed a trial and we are to actually live by our Constitution, then they must be afforded a defense. If they pay for a Garland or a Shapiro, then best of luck to them. If not, then they should get a public defender, and get to deal with it like those of us unable to afford an attorney. Otherwise, this is just a sham, and there is no justice being served.

Wheat Williams

March 10th, 2010
8:12 am

My God! Bob Barr said something that I agree with. I’m glad that people all over the political spectrum agree that protecting constitutional principles is vital. It is also good to hear a conservative like Barr acknowledge that Cheney (and by extension the Bush administration) often showed little respect for the Constitution. The problem is that since they established a precedent that the Bill of Rights should be flexed and bent whenever an administration felt like it, we might just be doing serious, permanent damage to our principles, our citizens’ rights and freedoms, and our nation.

Dick Cheney

March 10th, 2010
8:19 am

I and my entire family hate America and everything it stands for.


March 10th, 2010
8:21 am

Since when we are paying this much attention to this kid, really? someone forgot to ask for Lindsay Lohan’s opinion?


March 10th, 2010
8:29 am

In reply to the user “An American”:
“We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal.” Does this sound familiar?


March 10th, 2010
8:30 am

Joel asks why the “Al Queda 7″ weren’t named. This is a falsehood that is being sustained by Cheney’s utter disdain for the facts. They were named in amicus and court briefs that are available freely online. Perhaps if Keep America Safe could figure out the technical niceties of “the Google” we wouldn’t be having this conversation. (But that would make it harder for them to slam Obama.)

Final thought. Every individual charged with a crime under the laws of the United States gets representation, one way or another. Everything else to the contrary is just noise. Cheney is an unpatriotic, anti-American, Constitution undermining tool.


March 10th, 2010
8:40 am

What is Cheney channeling Palin?

It might serve to get those red meaters to face some truths about their log cabin ways and recognise that some people, Including their own, are built differently. But that Cheney gene pool is detrimental to the human race and the US in particular.


March 10th, 2010
8:48 am

These terrorists have not been accused of crimes under civil law. The have been held as war criminals in military custody. They have no 6th Amendment rights.


March 10th, 2010
8:48 am

The VAST majority of the men sent to GTMO were released because they were innocent and not AQ/Taliban associated, yet so many brain dead patriots continue to insist that everyone at GTMO is a “terrorist” out to kill Americans and not entitled to even the most basic right of challenging their detention. What are we North Korea? Egypt? Saudi Arabia? What are you so proud of? No, it’s not okay to lock someone up without charge or trial for 10 years, what’s the matter with you? That’s where we’d be without the GTMO attorneys.


March 10th, 2010
8:58 am

Wrong, Ben. Nice try though. The Bushies absolutely failed to categorize the nature of the detention and also reserved the right to prosecute the individuals under the U.S. Criminal Code (not quite the U.S. Civil Code, as you state in your post. Big difference, your education failed you on that one. Look it up now, though.) Being held under threat of Criminal prosecution entitles ANYONE the right to prepare defense. Stupidity is going to destroy this country.

[...] Bob Barr – Atlanta Journal Constitution: Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, appears to have inherited her father’s disdain for the niceties of constitutional principles.  The former vice president was well-known throughout his tenure in that job, for missing no opportunity to praise the use of torture (which he referred to euphemistically as “enhanced interrogation techniques”) against those suspected of violating US anti-terrorism laws, and for often belittling those who believed that the Bill of Rights might actually apply to those charged with committing acts of terrorism. Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey: This is all of a piece, and what it is a piece of is something both shoddy and dangerous. A lawyer who represents a party in a contested matter has an ethical obligation to make any and all tenable legal arguments that will help that party. A lawyer in public service, particularly one dealing with sensitive matters of national security, has the obligation to authorize any step or practice the law permits in order to keep the nation and its citizens safe. And a lawyer who undertakes to represent someone whom his neighbors–perhaps rightly–revile as a threat to the public welfare is obligated to bring his talents to bear just as forcefully in favor of that client as he would if he were representing Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, the French artillery officer who in 1895 was found guilty of treason and sent to Devil’s Island for little more than being Jewish. [...]


March 10th, 2010
9:09 am

Bandwidth – What do you mean, going to?


March 10th, 2010
9:13 am

How can we tell the world that we are the beam of democracy and freedom when we ourselves do not follow it? We keep prolonging this war and we are giving reasons for other to attack us. We open Gitmo and the “others” are given reasons to do same. We torture detainees and others will do the same. And the list goes on. We need to be very careful and think outside the FOX lenses and keep in mind that the whole world knows of a different truth. You can mask this so called Cheney patriotism war anyway you want. But the bottom line remains is that we need to be better than them.
We were raised to do what’s right. To be atatcked for doing a basic legal right is unpatriot.

William G

March 10th, 2010
9:17 am

Bob I never thought I would agree with you on anything. But your point is spot on. Thank God we have folks who are willing to stand up for our Constitution. To view this any other way, while perhaps personally satisfying, is absurd.

The Snark

March 10th, 2010
9:18 am

Somewhere in hell, Joe “Tail Gunner” McCarthy is laughing his head off.


March 10th, 2010
9:22 am

Sorry Bob:

Terrorists caught “out of uniform” (which said “uniform” can be a simple, readily identifiable/observable shoulder patch of their choosing which must be worn 24/7) should be shot just like Gen. Eisenhower had the Germans caught out of uniform shot during the Battle of the Bulge (within 24 hours no less). Since the “field of battle” is also the United States that applies here as well as anywhere else in the world.

If you are captured “in uniform”, you are a POW until your side surrenders. That’s their choice.

The ONLY exception should be a U.S. citizen (but only if caught in the U.S.). Otherwise, bang!


March 10th, 2010
9:22 am

I believe that any foreign terrorist that attempts to kill Americans should be afforded all the rights and priviledges afforded to any US citizen. In fact, they should also have the right to free legal representation and healthcare while awaiting trial. And, to avoid any appearance of improprieties and so as not to offend anyone, the American tax payer will gladly provide comfortable accomodations for the accused at any hotel of their choosing, especially those with award points programs.


March 10th, 2010
9:23 am

The constitution states that all persons, not just citizens, have the right to counsel, just like in other countries, they will appoint counsel to represent you. Far too many ignorant people comment about the constitution, yet failed to read it. Yes, in this climate, I agree with withholding the names of the lawyers representing the defendents. The GOP and fox news have many people, including in these comments angry at public servants, federal employees only doing there job. IRS employees being targeted, Census employees, now Lawyers? Even Jesus ate with the tax collectors…

Mr. Holmes

March 10th, 2010
9:26 am

Yay! Sane Bob Barr is back. We missed ye…


March 10th, 2010
9:28 am

sickofhearingmantra said, “The VAST majority of the men sent to GTMO were released because they were innocent and not AQ/Taliban associated …”

I have no idea where your information originated. However, as the senior FBI Special Agent who was in charge of coordinationg the investigation of over 600 “detainees” immediately following 9/11, I know, for a fact, that wherever your information originated, it is absolutely, false.


March 10th, 2010
9:33 am

It’s frightening and tragic that so many people seem willing to dispose of the Constitution. It’s what keeps our country great.


March 10th, 2010
9:33 am

6th Ammendment only applies to American citizens, not PoWs or war criminals. This IS war, folks, not some mere assault & battery domestic arrest.


March 10th, 2010
9:34 am

Bob is obviously off his meds.


March 10th, 2010
9:36 am

All you rag-head loving, USSA bashing Pinkos seriously need to move to France. You will fit right in.


March 10th, 2010
9:37 am

Why does the title of you blog post indicate that Cheney told Lawyers to drop dead and yet nowhere in your post do you reference that quote. Did she say this? If not, it would seem that your title is nothing more than a lie intended to draw readers. If so, why don’t you reference it?

You’ve wasted my time. I’ve read this story multiple times by better journalist. It’s already stale.


March 10th, 2010
9:43 am

A bill of rights lesson for the apparently constitutionally-challenged commenters here: The 6th Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

There is no limitation to “US citizens” or “non-terrorists,” simply “the accused.” I’m no terrorist lover, but even I can see the importance of bringing these people to justice in a very PUBLIC and CONSTITUTIONAL way. Not only are the rights of the accused preserved, but the WORLD can see that we are consistent in our application of principles of freedom, liberty and justice. Otherwise, we’re just another bunch of hypocrites.


March 10th, 2010
9:43 am

If laws do not apply to everyone, they apply to no one –
since when does it make sense that we deny rights to people based on where they’re from?
To say that America’s laws should only apply to Americans means the laws themselves are based on residency, as opposed to emerging from principles like evidenciary support or the right to face one’s accusers, or the presumption of innocence –

the idea that we are free to deny laws to people because they are foreigners makes a laughing stock of our entire judicial system – if we uphold the principles the laws are based on, then we must apply them fairly, to everyone;
we allow child rapists public defenders for heavens sake, but Cheney thinks she has the right to deny justice to others? Just in the event they may in fact be innocent? These people are profoundly ignorant.


March 10th, 2010
9:43 am

It doesn’t matter if the majority are innocent or not. If there is a chance that one suspect is innocent, then they should all be given fair trials. While terrorism is a real threat, caging innocent men like animals is also a threat.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to Justice everywhere.

Ben Applegate

March 10th, 2010
9:45 am

Are you kidding me? How in the world is it distasteful to not want terrorists to be tried in our court system and be given rights meant to pertain to American citizens? These people want to kill American citizens, so as far as I’m concerned anyone who wants to treat them like victims rather than perpetrators of evil can drop dead.

Frann T.

March 10th, 2010
9:46 am

Ghent, where does it say only American citizens? It’s your attitude and people like you who are giving the terrorists ammunition for their recruiting. You all are actually hurting the war on terror.


March 10th, 2010
9:57 am

If Liz Cheney really wanted to know the names of the attorneys representing the inmates at Gitmo, all she’d have to do is read the briefs which are available on Lexis/Nexis, Pacer, etc.

She could then publicize them, spend a little time to discover their home addresses and publicize that too. Then all you wingnuts can picket their houses, harass their children and use your 2nd Amendment rights to pop a cap or two in them.

That will show the rest of the lawyers at DOJ and elsewhere that we will not tolerate anyone who considers giving the Gitmo inmates an impartial review of their cases.

BTW — if “Don” was the “Senior FBI Agent” in charge of screeing the Gitmo detainees cases, then I’m Napoleon Bonaparte.

Heaven forbid that Americans admit that anyone else is entitled to an impartial review.


March 10th, 2010
10:00 am

I say again:

1) Caught on the field of battle “out” of uniform (including in the U.S.) ………….. shot.
2) Caught on the field of battle “in” uniform (including the U.S.) …..POW status to the end of the war.
3) Caught anywhere as a U.S. citizen (in or out of uniform) ………. military trial ….. then shot.