Right-wing targets the ‘Gitmo Nine’

RIGHT-WING TARGETS THE ‘GITMO NINE’…. I mentioned briefly the other day that Liz Cheney’s “Keep America Safe” outfit is smearing Justice Department attorneys with attacks that anyone with even a shred of decency would find contemptible. It’s worth considering in more detail.

Adam Serwer has the definitive piece on this.

The “Gitmo Nine” aren’t terrorists. They weren’t captured fighting for the Taliban. They’ve made no attempts to kill Americans. They haven’t declared war on the United States, nor have they joined any group that has. The “Gitmo Nine” are lawyers working in the Department of Justice who fought the Bush administration’s treatment of suspected terrorists as unconstitutional. Now, conservatives are portraying them as agents of the enemy.

In the aftermath of September 11, the Bush administration tried to set up a military-commissions system to try suspected terrorists. The commissions offered few due process rights, denied the accused access to the evidence against them, and allowed the admission of hearsay — and even evidence gained through coercion or abuse. The Bush administration also sought to prevent detainees from challenging their detention in court. Conservatives argued that the nature of the war on terrorism justified the assertion of greater executive power. In case after case, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the administration’s critics.

“These lawyers were advocating on behalf of our Constitution and our laws. The detention policies of the Bush administration were unconstitutional and illegal, and no higher a legal authority than the Supreme Court of the United States agreed,” says Ken Gude, a human-rights expert with the Center for American Progress, of the recent assault on the Justice Department. “The disgusting logic of these attacks is that the Supreme Court is in league with al-Qaeda.”

The attorneys who challenged the Bush administration’s national-security policies saw themselves as fulfilling their legal obligations by fighting an unconstitutional power grab. At heart, this was a disagreement over process: Should people accused of terrorism be afforded the same human rights and due process protections as anyone else in American custody? But rather than portray the dispute as a conflict over what is and isn’t within constitutional bounds, conservatives argue that anyone who opposed the Bush administration’s policies is a traitor set to undermine America’s safety from within the Justice Department.

The attacks from lowlifes like Cheney and National Review‘s Andrew McCarthy have been even more vile than their typical nonsense. CAP’s Gude told Adam, “This is exactly what Joe McCarthy did. Not kind of like McCarthyism; this is exactly McCarthyism.”

Lt. Col. David Frakt, who has represented detainees both in military and civilian courts, added, “The right is treating the lawyers who came up with the justification for torture as heroes, and the lawyers like Katyal who helped restore the rule of law as villains. They’ve just got their heads screwed on backwards.”

I realize that right-wing political hacks are going to engage in some pretty loathsome tactics from time to time. But the crusade against these Justice Department officials obliterates any lines of decency or modern norms, and should permanently discredit the cheap and tasteless attackers.