Monday, March 8, 2010

Liz Cheney Criticized For Smearing Attorneys

Liz Cheney is drawing fire for her attack on Justice Department attorneys who have represented Guantanamo detainees. Her group "Keep America Safe" brands the attorneys the "Gitmo 9." In doing so, it has attacked our legal system, a point recognized by the New York Times in "Are You or Have You Ever Been a Lawyer?" The Times also recognized the media outlet that propagates views such as Cheney's:

These voices — often heard on Fox News — are going after Justice Department lawyers who represented Guantánamo detainees when they were in private practice. It is not nearly enough to say that these lawyers did nothing wrong. In fact, they upheld the highest standards of their profession and advanced the cause of democratic justice. The Justice Department is right to stand up to this ugly bullying.

...In order to attack the government lawyers, Ms. Cheney and other critics have to twist the role of lawyers in the justice system. In representing Guantánamo detainees, they were in no way advocating for terrorism. They were ensuring that deeply disliked individuals were able to make their case in court, even ones charged with heinous acts — and that the Constitution was defended.

...If lawyers who take on controversial causes are demonized with impunity, it will be difficult for unpopular people to get legal representation — and constitutional rights that protect all Americans will be weakened. That is a high price to pay for scoring cheap political points.

While Cheney has been taken to task by liberals such as Glenn Greenwald on Salon, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, she's also been criticized by conservatives including Peter D. Keisler, Bush administration attorney general, who stated, “There is a longstanding and very honorable tradition of lawyers representing unpopular or controversial clients. The fact that someone has acted within that tradition, as many lawyers, civilian and military, have done with respect to people who are accused of terrorism – that should never be a basis for suggesting that they are unfit in any way to serve in the Department of Justice.”

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