Getting it partly right on the DOJ 7

A group of 19 lawyers, including some prominent conservative ones, has signed a statement criticizing as “unjust” and “shameful,” the video released by Keep America Safe that attacked Justice Department lawyers who represented terrorist detainees. The group is a mixed bag, but it includes such unrelenting critics of Obama/Holder anti-terrorism policy as Lee Casey and David Rivkin.
The statement too is a mixed bag as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think that representing Osama bin Laden’s driver is part of an honorable tradition that extends back to John Adams (though defending someone falsely accused of being bin Laden’s driver might be). We’re not talking merely about unpopular defendants here; we’re talking about folks who are at war with the United States. And al Qaeda cannot be compared to nervous British soldiers who over-reacted when faced by an angry crowd.
I agree that lawyers who defended terrorists should not be subject to a per se bar from employment in high level Justice Department jobs. However, the Keep America Safe video was attempting to acertain who these lawyers were. With their identitiies known, it would then be possible to assess more fully whether, to the extent the lawyers in question may become involved in matters relating to terrorism issues, they are good selections.
The left would want to know whether, for example, high level Justice Department jobs were going to lawyers who, on a pro bono basis, represented clients who aggressively take conservative positions on civil rights issues. And the left would reserve the right to scream if this turned out to be the case. Nor would the left be mollified if the Supreme Court had, by a 5-4 vote, agreed with the aggressively conservative position on civil rights law. The same principle applies here, and perhaps with more force, since our national security is at stake.
However, I agree with the statement to the extent it takes strong exception to the way the seven DOJ lawyers were characterized in the Keep America Safe video.


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