Thiessen’s definition of ‘radical’

THIESSEN’S DEFINITION OF ‘RADICAL’…. If you haven’t seen Marc Thiessen’s appearance on “The Daily Show” last night, it’s worth watching the full, unedited version. If it seemed as if Jon Stewart wasn’t fully prepared for John Yoo a few weeks ago, he clearly had done his homework before last night’s interview.

The two covered a fair amount of ground, but there was something Thiessen said early on that stood out for me. In the process of defending the smear campaign against nine Justice Department attorneys, the speechwriter-turned-columnist insisted those attorneys who successfully challenged Bush administration detainee policies deserve to be attacked.

“Some of these people have very radical views. Jennifer Daskal is one of these lawyers who has been raised questions about. She has written that any terrorist who is not charged with a crime, even though they’re being held as lawful combatants, should be released from Guantanamo and set free — even though we know they may go out and kill American soldiers.”

Thiessen was referring to Jennifer Daskal, an Obama-appointed Justice Department attorney, who worked on detainee issues at Human Rights Watch during the Bush/Cheney era. I can’t say for certain if Thiessen characterized her writings accurately, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

Stewart responded by arguing that Daskal’s position had been bolstered by Supreme Court rulings. But let’s go one step further, and note that none other than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) articulated a position on national television that was identical to the Daskal position that Thiessen described on “The Daily Show.” McCain said on “Meet the Press” in 2005:

“Now, I know that some of these guys [at Guantanamo] are terrible, terrible killers and the worst kind of scum of humanity. But, one, they deserve to have some adjudication of their cases. And there’s a fear that if you release them that they’ll go back and fight again against us. And that may have already happened. But balance that against what it’s doing to our reputation throughout the world and whether it’s enhancing recruiting for people to join al Qaeda and other organizations and want to do bad things to the United States of America.

“I think, on balance, the argument has got to be — the weight of evidence has got to be that we’ve got to adjudicate these people’s cases, and if it means releasing some of them, you’ll have to release them… [E]ven Adolf Eichmann got a trial.”

What’s the difference between McCain’s post-9/11 position and the one Thiessen ascribed to Jennifer Daskal? There isn’t one.

As such, by Thiessen’s logic, John McCain is a dangerous “radical,” whose opinions on national security disqualify him from having a role in shaping government policy. Indeed, to hear Thiessen tell it, Liz Cheney should start smearing McCain immediately.

Of course, the real radical here is Thiessen — he supports torture, McCarthyism, and moral bankruptcy. It was heartening to see Stewart make that plain.