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.