Holder on Smeared DoJ Lawyers: "I will not allow their reputations to be besmirched."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, who was the first to request the names of current Justice Department employees who worked on behalf of suspected terror detainees, again reiterated his request to Attorney General Eric Holder in the Senate Judiciary hearing this morning.

Saying that he thought Grassley's request had "come from a good place," Holder said that his concerns about fulfilling Grassley's request had been borne out by the smear campaign waged by Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol's pro-torture advocacy organization Keep America Safe.

“There has been an attempt to “drag their names through the mud," Holder said. Adding that their names are out there now, Holder said, “I am simply not going to be a part of that effort. I will not allow good decent lawyers who have followed the greatest traditions of American jurisprudence. … I will not allow their reputations to be besmirched.”

Grassley appeared to back down from his request but added one parting shot direct from the mouth of newly minted Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen: “I doubt that you would do the same with lawyers who represent the mafia, and I doubt you would allow them to represent the Justice Department,” Grassley said but didn't press the matter further.

Keep America Safe's smear campaign -- and the subsequent conservative backlash -- seems have alienated their allies in Congress after all. You could almost hear the voice of Former Army Head Counsel Joseph Welch asking, "Have you no decency?"

-- A. Serwer

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