Foreign Terrorists Deserve Representation; but the Cheneys are Nonpersons: Meltdown with(out) Keith Olbermann Part 38


Under Stalin—and the Soviet system in general—someone who fell into disfavor by the ruling Party could become a “nonperson.”  They weren’t just thrown out of power or persecuted, it was as though they did not exist.

While MSNBC hosts pay a lot of attention to Dick Cheney, making him a nonperson is their goal.  Once, while teasing an upcoming segment concerning CHEE-ney as Chris Matthews always sneeringly pronounces it, he muttered “What’s this guy doing still around, anyway?”  Somehow, that didn’t make MSNBC’s transcript of the show.

The Soviets often purged by family rather than individual, and Liz Cheney is getting the treatment. Mostly because she’s great at skewering the Left; but part of the rebuttal is always an emphasis on her family ties to the He Who Must Be Slandered.

Keith Olbermann had the week off to tend to his father, but Laurence O’Donnell kept slinging the slander—and the fact that pomposity has replaced rage doesn’t make it any better, just more boring.

To hear O’Donnell and his guest, David Corn of Mother Jones late of The Nation, talk, you would think that Liz Cheney was the only person in the United States who thought badly of lawyers who defend terrorists, try to give them extra-Constitutional rights, and free them to kill again.

CORN: I think it really took a Cheney to cook up this kooky crusade that is really offending everybody except a small circle

Everybody Lawrence knows, at least, thinks defending al Qaeda is a noble calling—worse,  Eric Holder thinks it is a top credential to be a Justice Department Prosecutor.

O‘DONNELL:  Earlier this week, Liz Cheney‘s group Keep America Safe put out a new Web video suggesting that Justice Department lawyers previously involved in defense work for detainees share the values of al Qaeda.  The video called these lawyers the “al Qaeda 7” and implied they could not be trusted to uphold this nation‘s laws and defend its security as part of the Justice Department.  Forget all the Bush military lawyers who defended terrorism defendants.  Forget that the Bush Justice Department itself hired three attorneys who worked defense on terror cases.

The Cheney attack is, on its face, vicious, offensive, unfounded, outrageous and wrong.  And that‘s just what conservatives are saying.

The conservative “Power Line” blog used the words “vicious” and “unfounded.”  Quote, “It is entirely inappropriate to suggest that these lawyers share the values of terrorists.”

Want more?  A former Bush White House lawyer, quote, “The video is truly offensive.  It‘s beyond a cheap shot to suggest that a lawyer is an al Qaeda sympathizer because he advocates a detainee‘s position in the Supreme Court.”

The Bush assistant attorney general who led the defense against Gitmo legal challenges, quote, “It‘s wrong to suggest that people who sought judicial review are somehow sympathetic to al Qaeda.”

The Bush Pentagon‘s former chief prosecutor, quote, “It is absolutely outrageous for the Cheney crowd to try to tar and feather them.  If you zealously represent a client, there‘s nothing shameful about that.  That‘s the American way.”

And what does it say when Bill O‘Reilly won‘t play?

Okay, a bunch of lawyers want to stand up for the idea that you shouldn’t be judged by the clients you take—and Bill O’Reilly misses the point.  Big surprise.

But this blog in general and David Horowitz in particular, National Review, former World Trade Center bombing prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, The Weekly Standards Steve Hayes and Bill Kristol (and probably everyone else at WS) and too many prominent conservative opinion leaders to count have taken this position.

O‘DONNELL:  In 2007, Bush‘s former Solicitor General Ted Olson defended detainee lawyers writing about another attorney who defended the British soldiers in the Boston massacre case.  Olson quotes the lawyer as calling his work “one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country.”  Remarkable because that lawyer made his assessment after becoming President John Adams.

Right.  Same thing.  The British troops were basically innocent, goaded into firing by an angry mob, and not even SAM Adams ever charged that it was a premeditated act of deliberate slaughter.  Oh, and those were not foreign troops at the time.  During the Boston Massacre, Massachusetts was a BRITISH COLONY, Lawrence.

CORN: I mean, this is a clear case when Liz Cheney has crossed a line.  And let‘s not just blame Liz Cheney.  The other board member—there are three board members of Keep America Safe.  Another one is Bill Kristol, who, you know, is often on FOX, runs the “Weekly Standard” and was Dan Quayle‘s chief of staff.  You know, I haven‘t seen him out there swinging away with this in the last day or two, but he should be held accountable and anybody else associated with Keep America Safe.

O‘DONNELL:  You know, in my own feeling, Liz Cheney has crossed this line so many times before this week.  That—you know, that the fact that this was what it took to get responsible Republicans to counter her, I think, is worth noting.

But the notion that lawyers—that American lawyers representing constitutional positions and constitutional arguments in court in some way share the values of al Qaeda, I haven‘t seen, David, what exactly the al Qaeda judicial system is, what exactly their notion is of defendants‘ rights, of the right to counsel.  How can they—

CORN:  It‘s probably—it‘s probably pretty similar to the Cheney view now which is—you know, by any means necessary.  And you don‘t put principles first. [DF—Yes, those evil Cheneys don’t think Americans should die by the thousands to protect the right of foreign terrorists to get civilian representation in federal court.  For shame!]

I mean, I—look, I think it really took a Cheney to cook up this kooky crusade that is really offending everybody except a small circle.  I haven‘t seen too many conservatives rushing to her defense. [ DF-- Or, to put it another way, once again Liz Cheney has said something that has THIS conservative cheering out loud.]

And—you know, and it follows.  I mean, it is an extrapolation of the Dick Cheney view that we saw again and again through the Bush-Cheney years that constitutional rights don‘t really matter. [DF--Otherwise known as the MAJORITY American view that the ACLU version of the Constitution does not actually exist]

Barack Obama, Eric Holder and every ventriloquist’s dummy for the Administration has been parroting the line that “We tried the first World Trade Center terrorists and it worked out fine.”

Funny, none of these propagandists ever asks the PROSECUTOR of the original World Trade Center gang if he agrees—because they know he does NOT.  And it’s not like National Review’s Andrew McCarthy is shy about his opinion, or hard to find.

Here’s what McCarthy said in a no-holds barred commentary at National Review Online: about lawyers so eager to represent al Qaeda that the will do it for free:

McCARTHY: This is not that hard. The salient issue in the controversy over Justice Department attorneys who formerly represented our terrorist enemies detained at Guantanamo Bay is this: They were volunteers.

The lawyers and their lefty legions expect you to overlook that. Lawyers presume that they have an elite status in our litigious society and that their superior knowledge of the law will intimidate critics into silence. Since they are trained advocates, they figure that if they feign enough indignation over somebody’s “questioning their patriotism,” then Americans will shrink from asking, “How is it patriotic to go out of your way to help America’s enemies in wartime?”

…The legal profession’s depiction of these lawyers as heroic servants not of the enemy but of the Constitution is unmitigated nonsense: You can’t be performing a vital constitutional function when the function is not required by the Constitution. They can repeat the lie a million times, but that won’t make it a fact. These lawyers made a conscious decision to contribute their services, usually gratis, to enemy combatants with whom the American people are at war.

But then a former federal prosecutor who obtained convictions of the Blind Sheikh and his bloodthirsty band after they bombed the World Trade Center certainly wouldn’t know as much about the Constitutional requirements of foreign illegal combatants as Lawrence O’Donnell and David Corn… would he?