Liz Cheney and her organization, Keep America Safe, seem to be playing defense because of the backlash from their latest ad, which accuses Justice Department lawyers who represented accused terror detainees terrorist sympathizers.
Yesterday, Keep America Safe Spokesman Aaron Harison, in an interview with Main Justice, struggled to argue that, in fact, they weren't suggesting that at all:
Harison said that private attorneys advocating for detainees raised a lot of questions because “sometimes you can’t make the distinction” between representation and being “soft on terror.” Harison also said the organization was more concerned that the DOJ lawyers are soft on terror than that they hold sympathetic views about al Qaeda.
The ad refers to the attorneys as "the al-Qaeda Seven", and asks "Whose values do they share?" over images of Osama bin Laden. KAS Spokesman Michael Goldfarb told POLITICO that, "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."
Well, what the ad does — and actually it doesn’t question anybody’s loyalty. What the ad does is it says that there are nine lawyers in the Justice Department who used to represent al Qaeda terrorists and the Attorney General will only tell us who two of them are and we want the American people to have the right to know who the others are.
Amazing. Only two days after suggesting that the Justice Department is "the Department of Jihad", Cheney doesn't even have the courage to back up her own absurd, morally depraved argument. If you're going to go the full Joseph McCarthy, you should at least have the chutzpah to be honest about it.
Keep America Safe says that it exists to ""make the case against President Barack Obama's moves to wrench America away from Bush era foreign policy." That's absurd, because the Bush policy post-2006 is Obama administration policy.
But as long as we're following Bush's lead, in 2007 former Undersecretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Charles Stimson resigned after he made accusations similar to the ones Cheney's ad has leveled. This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for Keep America Safe to show how committed they are to Bush-era standards of accountability.
UPDATE: Spencer Ackerman points out that in 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was a terrorist sympathizer:
And you know who agreed with the Post? No less a law-breaking, impunity-loving executive-power-drunk official than soon-to-be-disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. “Good lawyers representing the detainees is the best way to ensure that justice is done in these cases,” Gonzales told The New York Times. Even Alberto Gonzales thinks that Guantanamo detainees deserve good legal counsel!
Tell me again how this is about preventing a departure from "Bush-era policy" and not political gamesmanship and character assassination.
-- A. Serwer