Early on in the Bush administration, the enemy combatants detained by the United States at Guantanamo Bay became a cause of the left. In particular, they became a cause of the American bar, which is itself a subset of the institutional left. From the American Bar Association, to the elite law firms, to the American Civil Liberties Union, to the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild and others, the advancement of the rights of Islamist terrorists became a celebrated cause.
I saw the phenomenon with my own eyes when I spoke on a panel with Lynne Stewart at the 2003 national convention of the National Lawyers Guild in Minneapolis. I wrote about the experience at the time in “Face to face with Lynne Stewart.”
Why the alliance between Islamist terrorists and the institutional left? The left has no interest in the promotion of Sharia law per se, or jihad, or the subordination of women, or the suppression of homosexual conduct. The terrorists couldn’t care less about “human rights” or socialism or the nationalization of the health care system. There is no doctrinal alliance between the left and Islamist terrorists.
Rather, in my view, the alliance is a marriage of convenience. It is an alliance is based on mutual hatred of the United States. The Islamist terrorists and the left share a peculiar animus that overcomes their other differences for limited purposes.
Debra Burlingame and Thomas Joscelyn adduce evidence bearing on the alliance in “Gitmo’s indefensible lawyers” and Andrew McCarthy adds a footnote in “What’s a modern John Adams to do?” McCarthy links to Bill Gertz’s Washington Times article “Justice, CIA clash over probe of interrogator IDs.” (McCarthy also makes necessary distinctions among the attorneys representing Guantanamo detainees in this post.)
PAUL adds: The piece by Burlingame and Joscelyn is excellent. One of its virtues is that it focuses on lawyer conduct — mainly that of Julia Tarver Mason. It does not label Mason, nor does it speculate about her sympathy, if any, with al Qaeda’s program or the extent, if any, to which she can be considered aligned with al Qaeda. The facts speak for themseles, and are plenty damning.
For the record, Mason is not a Justice Department lawyer. However, Burlingame and Joscelyn also mention a DOJ lawyer — Jennifer Daskal. Here, the focus is on policy positions she has taken. According to the authors, Daskal wants to close Guantanamo Bay, shut down military commissions, and set detainees who cannot be tried in civilian courts free on the theory that the attendant risk is one we must assume to cleanse the nation of Guantanamo’s moral stain. Reasonable people can disagree about closing down Gitmo, but releasing detainees who can’t be tried in civilian courts would, I think, be an outrage.
I understand that Burlingame and Joscelyn are not finished writing about the actions of Gitmo lawyers. I look forward to reading their upcoming writing on the subject.
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