This is some truly despicable stuff.
In fact, this is why politics matters so much, because it is crucial to keep people like this as far away as possible from the levers of power. They are truly dangerous to those things that make America great.
The video below was put together by Keep America Safe, a group led by Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol. It attempts to create political leverage from the fact that nine attorneys who volunteered to represent detainees at Guantanamo have since been hired as lawyers at the Department of Justice. The Washington Times editorial board has labeled the lawyers as “The Gitmo Nine.” Investors Business Daily has renamed the DOJ as the “Department of Jihad” and wondered “just whose side are they on?”
Two of the nine attorneys have been named — Neal Katyal and Jennifer Daskal. But in the video, the Keep America Safe crowd wants to know why the names of the other seven haven’t been made public by Attorney General Eric Holder. “Bring them out,” they seem to say, as if they were a lynch mob demanding satisfaction.
“Why the secrecy behind the other seven?,” the narrator intones ominously as footage of Osama bin Laden flashes in the background. “Whose values do THEY share? Tell Eric Holder that Americans have the right to know the identity of the al Qaeda Seven.”
“The al Qaeda Seven.” Lovely. Absolutely lovely.
Under the military commission system established by Congress and the Pentagon at the insistence of the U.S. Supreme Court, the so-called “al Qaeda Seven” did their patriotic duty as Americans and as officers of the court. Their values are deeply American values, and they have acted on them. Without pay and often at substantial personal sacrifice, they committed time, resources and reputation to ensure that the U.S. judicial system worked as our Founding Fathers designed it to work.
I have talked with several attorneys who volunteered their services to defend detainees, although none to my knowledge is among “the al Qaeda Seven.” Each time, I came away impressed by their devotion to the Constitution and by their patriotism.
This isn’t the first time this issue has arisen. Back in 2007, a Pentagon lawyer named Charles D. “Cully” Stimson named a dozen major law firms that had volunteered lawyers to serve as pro bono defense counsel for Gitmo detainees. Corporate CEOs, Stimson snidely suggested, should “make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.”
Those comments set off a stir of controversy, and to their immense credit corporate leaders made clear their support for the pro bono work done by their lawyers. Stimson was quickly forced to backpedal, noting that “I believe firmly that a foundational principle of our legal system is that the system works best when both sides are represented by competent legal counsel…. I believe that our justice system requires vigorous representation.” Two weeks later, he was forced to resign in shame.
Air Force Col. Morris Davis, now retired, was the military’s chief prosecutor at Guantanamo from 2005-2007. In an interview with Spencer Ackerman, Davis has denounced the attacks on the “Gitmo Nine.”
“It is absolutely outrageous for the Cheney-Grassley crowd to try to tar and feather (these attorneys) and insinuate they are al-Qaeda supporters. You don’t hear anyone refer to John Adams as a turncoat for representing the Brits in the Boston Massacre trial,” Davis said. “If you zealously represent a client, there’s nothing shameful about that. That’s the American way.”
As it happens, Friday will be the 240th anniversary of the Boston Massacre. As you no doubt recall, British troops facing an angry crowd of Boston residents shot and killed five civilians in 1770. The shooting galvanized American public opinion against British rule and the redcoats, hastening the onset of the American Revolution still six years away.
As Davis notes, John Adams served as the defense attorney for the six British soldiers charged with murder in the case. Threatened with a ruined business and the end to his political career, the future president nonetheless argued the case before a Boston jury. Adams won acquittals of the commanding officer and three of the soldiers; two others were convicted of manslaughter.
In his journal a few years later, Adams recalled the difficulty of fulfilling that mission:
“I. . .devoted myself to endless labour and Anxiety if not to infamy and death, and that for nothing, except, what indeed was and ought to be all in all, a sense of duty. In the Evening I expressed to Mrs. Adams all my Apprehensions: That excellent Lady, who has always encouraged me, burst into a flood of Tears, but said she was very sensible of all the Danger to her and to our Children as well as to me, but she thought I had done as I ought, she was very willing to share in all that was to come and place her trust in Providence….
“The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.”
That is courage and duty. That is American values at work.
The values motivating Keep America Safe, on the other hand, are those of the craven mob. And we as a nation have been and I hope always will be so much better than that.