Friday, March 12, 2010

Thiessen Rushes to Defend Liz Cheney.

With a large amount of Republicans joining in the condemnation of Liz Cheney and William Kristol's disgraceful McCarthyite advert, it falls to Marc Thiessen and Fox News to attempt to defend the indefensible.

KILMEADE: First off, Marc, do you think -- do you think it's wrong to defend criminals? If you're a defense lawyer for a bad guy, whether it's Sammy the Bull or John Gotti, does that make you bad? Is that what they're doing?

THIESSEN: No, but they - I mean, well, first of all, what these people did, most of them, was not defend people who were in the criminal justice system. The sixth amendment says that if you're accused of a crime, you get to have legal representation. What these people were doing, most of them, was trying to spring terrorists out of Guantanamo who were held under the laws of war. Send them back out to the battlefield where they - where we have evidence they've killed Americans since. And one of these lawyers, Jennifer Daskal, has actually said even if we know that they will go out and kill Americans, we should still release them.

Again, Thiessen - like Liz Cheney - refuses to even acknowledge the presumption of innocence, which is a cornerstone of the American justice system. As far as he is concerned these men were battleground detainees who should never have had any trial whatsoever.

They really are fighting for the kind of world-view expressed by Dick Cheney shortly after 9-11.

Not long after the Twin Towers fell, Dick Cheney declared the death of more than two centuries of American tradition. "It will be necessary for us to be a nation of men, and not laws," he said.

The then vice-president did his best to follow through by riding roughshod over the constitution and international laws by promoting torture, indefinite detention without trial and support for secretive military tribunals in which defendants were stripped of many of their rights.

I am stunned that after so many of the people held at Guantanamo Bay have had to be released due to a lack of evidence that there can still be people making this argument.

But that is essentially the argument that Cheney and Thiesen are still making. Anyone accused of terrorism is a terrorist and it therefore follows that anyone who defends such a person is "trying to spring terrorists from Guantanamo."

It's about as un-American a mindset as it is possible to imagine, it certainly rips up many of the laws and values which I would argue represent America's greatest strengths; and yet the people who espouse these notions consider themselves to be great patriots and, indeed, question the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with them.

Even the man who taught Liz Cheney the law is expressing surprise at her views:
“There’s something truly bizarre about this,” said Richard A. Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor and a revered figure among many members of the society. “Liz Cheney is a former student of mine — I don’t know what moves her on this thing,” he said.
But, maybe she is simply embracing her father's belief that this is a time for the US to be "a nation of men, and not laws".

I am pleased that so many Republicans also recognise this odious argument as the dangerous rubbish which it is.

Professor Epstein, however, said he found it “appalling” to see people equating work on detainee cases with a dearth of patriotism. He was a co-author of a brief in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court case argued by Neal Katyal, now the principal deputy solicitor general and a lawyer under scrutiny from Ms. Cheney’s group. The court ruled that the Bush administration’s initial plans for military commissions to try detainees violated the law.

“You don’t want to give the impression that because you oppose the government on this thing, that means you’re just one of those lefties — which I am not,” he said.

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