Monday, March 15, 2010

LTG 03/10/10 - Waterboarding litterbugs?

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” – Samuel Johnson

Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney and current conservative political agitator, has thrust herself into the spotlight again. Her political organization, Keep America Safe (not to be confused with Keep America Beautiful, although if she ran that organization she’d be advocating the waterboarding of litterbugs) has run an advertisement critical of Department of Justice attorneys who represented Guantanamo detainees in the past.

Although, to be fair, calling the ad “being critical” really doesn’t do it justice. In the ad, the lawyers who had the temerity to represent Guantanamo detainees were called “war criminals” and “terrorist huggers,” and the ad suggested that the attorneys might be terrorist sleepers and a threat to the country.

So, in the world according to Liz, making sure that people get a fair trial means you’re a threat to national security. If you represent a criminal, you love crime.

This isn’t reasoned debate. This is verbal thuggery. This is a naked and brazen attempt to use fear to damage the public’s confidence in the DOJ and the administration which, surprisingly enough, doesn’t include her father.

It’s not like Clan Cheney doesn’t have experience using fear. For years during the Bush administration, Papa Cheney orchestrated a campaign of darkly worded missives about supervillain terrorists who could break out of normal prisons to convince a nation that torture was acceptable and to create an extrajudicial gulag in Cuba that even George W. Bush realized was a bad idea.

And, to give the devil her due, it works. When Wolf Blitzer ran a story about the Keep America Safe ad, the chyron at the bottom of the screen read “Dept. of Jihad?” Mission accomplished for Liz and company, to be able to take this non-story about attorneys doing what attorneys are supposed to do and stoke the fires of the lunatic Tea Party conspiracy theories about President Obama being a “secret Muslim” out to “steal America” from “real Americans” and give it to “them.”

But, it’s Wolf Blitzer, the nation’s premier embarrassment to journalism. It shouldn’t be surprising that he was distracted by a shiny object like the Keep America Safe ad.

When you take even a moment to think through the ad, though, you realize how offensive it really is. If America really is a free country, one of the bedrock principles of that freedom is that everyone gets a fair trial. In the Soviet Union in its’ heyday, there were plenty of trials that went on. They just weren’t fair trials. People got railroaded in show trials and the enemies of the state got sent to a Siberian work camp or a shallow grave.

This, apparently, is the model Liz wants to adopt for our country. Again, it’s consistent with her father’s “torture and lock up forever whoever I tell you to” philosophy. But to attack an attorney for doing exactly what an attorney is supposed to do – zealously represent their client and let a neutral judge make a fair decision – is even starting to ring hollow in conservative circles.

So, is Liz just dumb? Hardly. Clan Cheney may be many things, but they are very smart. So why would she say something like this when she knows how silly she’ll look?

Well, keep in mind that just before this scary ad came out, the DOJ released a report describing how John Yoo and other Bush-era DOJ lawyers wrote memos justifying torture that they knew were not legally defensible. While the report said Yoo didn’t commit malpractice, the report also was scathingly critical of the legal lynchpins that supported Clan Cheney’s torture program.

That’s not something Papa Cheney would want making the national media cycle. That’s easy to fix. One scary commercial later and CNN has a “Dept. of Jihad?” chyron on the screen. And no one is talking Papa Cheney’s torture program being illegal.

Which is, of course, the ultimate irony. Liz’s commercial calls the DOJ lawyers war criminals for doing their jobs. Liz’s father, though, by spearheading and authorizing an illegal torture program, is the one in jeopardy of war crimes prosecution.

If Papa Cheney gets charged, wanna bet Liz won’t complain about the lawyers defending him?

1 comment:

Glen Thomas said...

I always knew you were a threat to National Security. And a pretty smart guy.