Liz Cheney's group Keep America Safe, which has led the resurgent Republican attacks on President Obama's national security policies, is releasing a video this morning that questions the loyalties of Justice Department lawyers who advocated for detained terror suspects during the Bush Administration.
The group has been hammering Attorney General Eric Holder for months on the issue, which has drawn increasing attention from Senate Republicans. Senator Charles Grassley last month pushed Holder to identify any lawyers who had represented detainees, and the Department said last month that nine Justice Department appointees filled that category -- but he refused to name those whose work hadn't been previously reported. Conservatives view the partial disclosure as another Holder misstep, and in a new video, the group is going on offense.
"Holder will only name two. Why the secrecy behind the other seven? Whose values do they share?" asks the video, suggesting that the lawyers support terrorism. "Americans have a right to know the identity of the Al Qaeda Seven."
Battling Guantanamo had, by the end of the Bush years, become a common cause for many lawyers who objected to detention policies on Constitutional grounds, and Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote Grassley that 34 of America's 50 largest law firms represented detainees or filed amicus briefs on their behalf.
Weich compared the terror cases to other prosecutions.
"For example, lawers in the Antitrust and Tax Divisions often come ot the Department with prior experience representing corporations and/or individuals in antitrust or tax litigation against the Government," he wrote on February 18.
Critics have noted that there are limits to this policy. The government does not, for instance, hire mob lawyers -- though very few detainee lawyers have evinced any sympathy for terrorism, and none have suggested terrorists should walk free.
"Holder has hired lawyers who used to represent terrorists to work in President Obama's Justice Department, and he won't tell the American people who they are," said Keep America Safe spokesman Michael Goldfarb. "These lawyers did far more than represent criminals. They have propagandized on behalf of our enemies, engaging in a worldwide smear campaign against the CIA, the U.S. military and the United States itself while we are at war."
Patriots or traitors? You decide.
The always amazing Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent [and Attackerman] takes this slander head on:
In the latest bit of brazen slander from the right, Republican Senators are trying to invent a scandal about Justice Department lawyers who — horror — represented Guantanamo detainees. You know, provided the representation that the Rehnquist and Roberts Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled those detainees are entitled? And which even the military commissions provide for? Instead, there’s this McCarthyite tactic of calling Justice Department lawyers the “Gitmo Nine,” a name that oh-so-cleverly suggests that those lawyers were themselves detained at Guantanamo.