CHENEY FACES BLOWBACK OVER CHEAP DOJ SMEAR…. This week, a right-wing outfit called “Keep America Safe,” led in part by Liz Cheney, launched a pretty disgusting smear against nine Justice Department attorneys. The group includes lawyers working in the Department of Justice who fought the Bush administration’s treatment of suspected terrorists as unconstitutional.
The vile attacks from Cheney and her cohorts seek to characterize the attorneys — who actually deserve the nation’s thanks — as terrorist-sympathizing traitors. Following Cheney’s lead, Fox News called the Justice Department officials the “al Qaeda Nine.” (Cheney’s ad refers to the attorneys as “the al Qaeda Seven,” and asks, “Whose values do they share?”)
Ken Gude, a human-rights expert with the Center for American Progress, said the other day, “This is exactly what Joe McCarthy did. Not kind of like McCarthyism; this is exactly McCarthyism.”
In a development that helps bolster some of my faith in humanity, more than a few voices on the right are declaring, publicly, that Liz Cheney has gone too far. Her attacks actually seem to have generated a backlash.
On Friday, the conservative blog Power Line put up a post titled, “An Attack That Goes Too Far.” Author Paul Mirengoff, called Cheney’s effort to brand DoJ officials the “Al Qaeda 7,” “vicious” and “unfounded” even if it was right to criticize defense lawyers for voluntarily doing work on behalf of Gitmo detainees.
Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, declaring that what Cheney was doing was comparable if not potentially worse than the notorious anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
Peter Keisler, a former assistant attorney general in the Bush administration who led the administration’s defense against lawsuits filed by Gitmo detainees, also denounced the “Keep America Safe” efforts to attack the Justice Department attorneys. John Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said he, too, deplores Cheney’s smear job.
Retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor of the Cheneys’ beloved military commissions, went even further, calling the attacks against the attorneys “absolutely outrageous.”
The president of the American Bar Association has also weighed in, describing Cheney’s hatchet job as “a divisive and diversionary tactic” to impugn “the character of lawyers who have sought to protect the fundamental rights of unpopular clients.”
And as far as ideological consistency is concerned, if the “Keep America Safe” ad is to be believed, former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson are also terrorist sympathizers.
I realize the political establishment and the mainstream media have limitless tolerance for even the most vile right-wing hacks, but if there’s still a line of decency that even the most contemptible Republicans cannot cross, Liz Cheney and “Keep America Safe” have crossed it. If it’s possible for far-right voices to be permanently discredited in the eyes of the chattering class, Cheney seems to fit the bill.