As Glenn Greenwald and Jamison Foser have pointed out, The Washington Post suggested that right-wing attacks on Department of Justice attorneys who have represented terror suspects are based on "ignorance," "fear," and "hysteria" and published an op-ed calling the attacks "shameful," even though Bill Kristol, one of the leading proponents of the smear, writes a regular column for the Post.
But Kristol is not alone.
Marc Thiessen, a weekly columnist for the Post has not only attacked the DOJ attorneys who represented terror suspects, but has also attacked "senior partners" at law firms in which other lawyers took on such cases for allowing "work on behalf of America's terrorist enemies" to continue.
From a chapter titled "Double Agents" in Thiessen's book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack:
Some argue that, with the exception of [Neal] Katyal, none of these lawyers directly represented terrorists, so they should not be held responsible for the actions of other lawyers in their firms. That might be true for a junior partner. But the fact is, [Department of Justice officials Eric] Holder, [Lanny] Breuer, [David] Ogden, [Thomas] Perrelli, and [Tony] West were all senior partners at their firms at the time when these firms were deciding whether or not to accept terrorist clients. They had the power to say no and stop this work on behalf of America's terrorist enemies. They chose not to do so.
I spoke to several partners at major law firms that have chosen not to represent terrorists. None wanted to criticize their competitors on the record, but all agreed that the work would not have gone forward without the approval of Holder and his colleagues. One attorney explained that law firms pride themselves on collegiality, and if one or more partners expressed opposition, that is sufficient to kill a pro bono project. He said the reason his firm does not represent terrorists is because partners like him spoke up and made clear they opposed the firm doing such work. If such opposition could stop this work at his firm, this lawyer says, Holder could have done the same at Covington. "Eric Holder's law firm did this with the full blessing and support of Eric Holder," he says. "He's responsible for it." [Pages 257-58]
At the end of the chapter, Thiessen claimed that the attorneys who took on the cases of terror "are aiding and abetting America's enemies," which is pretty close to the constitutional definition of treason -- providing "aid and comfort" to America's enemies:
The attorneys fighting these cases -- some intentionally, others unwittingly -- are practicing what has come to be called "lawfare." They are aiding and abetting America's enemies by filing lawsuits on their behalf, and turning U.S. courtrooms into a new battlefield in the war on terror. These lawsuits tie our government in knots and make it more difficult for our military and intelligence officials to defend our country from terrorist dangers. And they undermine America's moral authority by echoing the enemy's propaganda that America systematically abuses human rights. [Page 274]
Regarding the attacks against lawyers who represented terror suspects, the Post March 5 editorial stated:
It is important to remember that no less an authority than the Supreme Court ruled that those held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, must be allowed to challenge their detentions in a U.S. court. It is exceedingly difficult to exercise that right meaningfully without the help of a lawyer. It is also worth remembering that the Bush administration wanted to try some Guantanamo detainees in military commissions -- a forum in which a defendant is guaranteed legal representation. Even so, it took courage for attorneys to stand up in the midst of understandable societal rage to protect the rights of those accused of terrorism. Advocates knew that ignorance and fear would too often cloud reason. They knew that this hysteria made their work on these cases all the more important. The video from Keep America Safe proves they were right.
The Post also published a March 5 op-ed by Walter Dellinger, former head of DOJ's office of legal counsel and former acting Solicitor General stating that "[t]he only word that can do justice to the personal attacks on these fine lawyers -- and on the integrity of our legal system -- is shameful. Shameful." From Dellinger's op-ed:
It never occurred to me on the day that Defense Department lawyer Rebecca Snyder and Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler of the Navy appeared in my law firm's offices to ask for our assistance in carrying out their duties as military defense lawyers that the young lawyer who worked with me on that matter would be publicly attacked for having done so. And yet this week that lawyer and eight other Justice Department attorneys have been attacked in a video released by a group called Keep America Safe (whose board members include William Kristol and Elizabeth Cheney) for having provided legal assistance to detainees before joining the department. The video questions their loyalty to the United States, asking: "DOJ: Department of Jihad?" and "Who are these government officials? ... Whose values do they share?"
That those in question would have their patriotism, loyalty and values attacked by reputable public figures such as Elizabeth Cheney and journalists such as Kristol is as depressing a public episode as I have witnessed in many years. What has become of our civic life in America? The only word that can do justice to the personal attacks on these fine lawyers -- and on the integrity of our legal system -- is shameful. Shameful.
Under the headline "Is Harry Reid Losing It?" Fox Nation linked to a March 5 Hot Air blog post that grossly distorted video of Sen. Harry Reid saying it is "good" news that the economy lost only 36,000 jobs in February -- an assessment many economists agree with. The video cut out Reid's accurate explanation that the "good" news was that unemployment and job losses were lower than economists had expected.
From Fox Nation:
Gen. McPeak also claims there is no evidence that troops will fight more effectively when the gay ban is repealed. In fact, research shows that the ban itself undermines cohesion and readiness. A bipartisan study group of Flag and General Officers which took a year to assess all of the evidence on "don't ask, don't tell" found that commanders in Iraq are ignoring the policy and choosing to keep their teams together rather than firing loyal gay troops. A recent Military Times poll confirms that many commanders know of gays and lesbians serving in their units, but choose not to discharge them, suggesting that these leaders believe that known gays help rather than hurt the force.
Finally, Gen. McPeak has acknowledged publicly that when there is a tradeoff between pursuing moral values and military effectiveness, he prefers the former, even at the expense of the latter. He opposed women in combat in the 1990s, saying he had "personal prejudices" against expanding combat roles for women, "even though logic tells us" that women can conduct combat operations just as well as men. He actually told Congress that he would choose an inferior male flight instructor over a superior female one even if it made for a "militarily less effective situation." "I admit it doesn't make much sense," he said, "but that's the way I feel about it." Elsewhere he repeated that his position did not meet "strict evidence standards for logic," but that that did not change his position, a direct contradiction to his claim that he seeks to engage in an enlightened debate.
Under the guise of protecting unit cohesion, defenders of the gay exclusion rule would have us believe that they are simply looking out for the nation's defense. What they are actually doing is using government policy to express moral animus. The reason to be disappointed by Gen. Merrill McPeak and others sharing his strategy is that their views have little to do with unit cohesion, and everything to do with an effort to encode prejudice into law and make the public believe that there is a national security rationale for doing so. That is a dangerous precedent.
The article is headlined "The White House Scramble to Tame the News Cyclone," and examines today's incessant news cycle, driven faster and faster by the Internet, which has turned the cycle "into a more ferocious beast."
From Time [emphasis added]:
the White House has proved to be a harder perch from which to dominate the conversation. Last summer, a single phrase - "death panels" - nearly derailed health care reform, as town halls were flooded with angry voters who got their information online. That there was no proposal for anything that resembled a death panel did not matter; the idea went viral anyway.
Ugh. Those GOP mini-mobs last summer were fueled by the Internet? The "death panels" nonsense got traction because of the Internet?
In truth, it was Fox News, along with right-wing AM talk radio, that drove both that stories last summer. But too often the Beltway press doesn't like the shine a spotlight on Fox News' open advocacy role. Because it's just a news outlet, don't you know.
From a March 5 post to Andrew Breitbart's twitter account:
In an appearance on Friday's Fox & Friends, Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano claimed that it may be illegal for Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) to vote for the health care reform proposal because of his brother Scott Matheson's nomination to the federal bench. After being asked if it puts "more pressure on the congressman, the brother, to vote no on health care, because now it's being exposed," Napolitano declared: "Yes. There's a statute called the honest services law, which basically makes it a crime to do the right thing for the wrong reasons."
Don't bother trying to figure out what Napolitano is talking about. It's a bizarre and baseless claim.
The larger point here is that there is no evidence that, if Rep. Matheson voted for the health care reform proposal, it would be for the "wrong reasons." In fact, basically everyone involved in the nomination has stated that the idea that Scott Matheson's nomination has anything to do with Rep. Matheson's vote is ridiculous. According to Politico, Rep. Matheson's spokeswoman "called the question 'patently ridiculous,' saying there was no deal made between her boss and the president that guranteed [sic] Scott Matheson's nomination in exchange for Rep. Matheson's vote." Politico also reported that a "White House official calls the charge 'absurd.' 'Scott Matheson is a leading law scholar and has served as a law school dean and U.S. Attorney. He's respected across Utah and eminently qualified to serve on the federal bench,' the official said."
But you don't have to take the White House's and Rep. Matheson's word for it. According to Politico, a spokesperson for Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah said the exact same thing: "Sen. Bennett has heard of all kinds of pressure being applied and offers being made to Democrats for votes on health care, but Scott Matheson's nomination is not one of those because it has been in the works for a long time."
To be clear, neither Napolitano nor anyone else has pointed to any evidence whatsoever that Scott Matheson's nomination may cause Rep. Matheson to cast his vote on health care for the "wrong reasons." Indeed, all available evidence indicates that the nomination and Matheson's vote have nothing to do with each other. Nevertheless, Napolitano has launched the desperate attack that if Matheson votes a certain way on the health care reform bill, he may be a criminal.
From the Fox Nation, accessed on March 5:
Laura Bush's former flak steps in it (again!) while heaping credit on Fox News for uncovering the damaging DUI story back during the final days of the 2000 campaign. (The controversy's back in the news because of Karl Rove's forthcoming book, in which he addresses it.)
Malcolm's misleading headline:
The Fox News story that nearly sank a Bush presidency before it began
And lede [emphasis added]:
One of the overlooked details of the forever-fight over the widely-debated conservative leanings of the Fox News Channel (besides the fact that a third of its viewers are Democrats) is that it was Fox that broke the then-shocking story in 2000 of candidate George W. Bush's 24-year-old DUI charges.
OMG, Fox News can't really be an unprofessional bastion of conservative advocacy because it broke the DUI story ten years ago! If Fox News was deeply in the tank for the GOP, why did Fox News break the story that almost cost Bush the WH? It really is "fair and balanced."
Here's why: It was a local Fox affiliate, WPXT-TV in Portland, Maine, that uncovered the DUI story, not the partisan, national operation run by Ailes. (Traditionally, local TV Fox News outlets have been far more down-the-middle with their mostly local news coverage, and don't act as RNC outlets.)
As I detailed at Salon a few years ago, once the local Fox courthouse reporter stumbled onto the DUI story, word began to spread and other reporters started chasing it that day, which meant Fox News in NYC could not kill the story. Carl Cameron, who covered the Bush campaign for Fox News, was given the job of getting a comment from the Bush team about the local Maine scoop, and that's how Fox News came to air the story.
But please, anyone who thinks Ailes and company, desperately trying to push Bush across the finish line in 2000, dug this story up and then pushed it out, is delusional. In fact, immediately after the story broke -- a story that Rove admits nearly cost Bush the WH -- look at how national Fox News personalities shifted into damage control:
*Bill O'Reilly: "It is a non-issue in my opinion. The DUI incident has no relevance to the campaign."
*Brit Hume: "My sense is that there's no indication it hurt anybody or helped anybody in the polling. I think it's a wash."
*Cameron: "A lot of people are saying, '24 years ago? We knew the governor has already disclosed his alcohol problem. What's the big deal?'"
*Fox guest Matt Drudge: "We're talking tonight about a story about a guy pulled over for driving too slow with a little too many beers. This is amateur chump stuff."
*Fox News guest Mara Liasson: "I think it's going to have little effect on George W. Bush's chances for the White House. It's not a bombshell."
*Fox News contributor Mort Kontracke: "I think this is a minor story."
Fox News only 'broke' the DUI story because, thanks to the diligent work of a local Maine reporter, it had no choice. But then after airing the blockbuster, Fox News did its best to downplay its own 'scoop.'
But hey other than that, Malcolm got everything right.
When the Washington Post hired the habitually-wrong Bill Kristol to write misinformation-laden columns, Post opinion boss Fred Hiatt explained "I think he's a very smart, plugged-in guy," adding "I thought he wrote a good column" at the New York Times, which tired of Kristol after only a year. Hiatt even suggested that the Times dumped Kristol merely because its readers disagreed with his opinions:
"It seems to me there were a lot of Times readers who felt the Times shouldn't hire someone who supported the Iraq war," said Hiatt, adding that he wants "a diverse range of opinions" on his page.
But the real problem with Kristol is that, unlike a broken clock, he's rarely right twice in one day. And that he often seems enthusiastically dishonest. And that he loves war and torture the way chocolate loves peanut butter. And... well, you get the point.
Anyway: Salon's Glenn Greenwald points out that the Washington Post editorial board -- which Fred Hiatt runs -- has now denounced a video attacking the Obama administration as a "smear" that plays on "ignorance and fear" at the expense of reason. Oh, and Bill Kristol is among those responsible for the video. Here's Greenwald:
So according to the Post Editors, this "Department of Jihad" ad is a "smear" campaign based in "hysteria, ignorance and fear" that is designed to "cloud reason." Yet those very same Post Editors continue to employ as a Columnist one of the primary parties responsible for this "smear" campaign. That's a strange thing to do. Once a newspaper's editors decide that someone is responsible for what they themselves denounce as a repugnant "smear" that traffics in fear, hysteria and ignorance and is designed to "cloud reason," one would think they'd no longer want to provide a forum to the person responsible. Why would a newspaper want to amplify and elevate a person who they know smears others using fear, hysteria and ignorance?
It's hardly news that Bill Kristol is a rank propagandist responsible for some of the most destructive falsehoods in our political culture, but now that the Post Editors explicitly recognize this, doesn't it speak volumes about them if they continue (as they will) to employ such a person as a regular Columnist?
Why does the Washington Post employ a columnist who is responsible for what it believes are nasty smears on honorable public servants? Simple: Because the Washington Post's opinion pages under Fred Hiatt are a cesspool of lies and propaganda and fear-mongering; a safe haven for those who endorse (or turn a blind eye) to torture, political thuggery, and everything in between.