The conservative media's witch hunts against President Obama's nominees and appointees has recently focused on Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terror suspects, as well as judicial nominees Goodwin Liu and Robert Chatigny, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) nominee Robert Harding. The cases against all of these targets are falling apart.
On March 3, The Washington Times published an editorial misrepresenting Liu's record in order to call him a "radical." Sean Hannity also joined in the dishonest attack on Liu -- a law professor at Berkley and a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since then, conservatives including Liu's colleague at Berkley, John Yoo, and the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick have vouched for Liu. Bolick wrote: "Having reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court." And according to the Los Angeles Times, Yoo -- the Bush administration lawyer who authored the infamous torture memos -- said of Liu's nomination: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice." Liu has also reportedly received the support of James Guthrie, education policy studies director at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.
So much for the idea that Liu is a radical leftist.
Today, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson claimed that "some are concerned" that Chatigny -- a federal trial judge who Obama has nominated for elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit -- "may be biased in favor of sex offenders." Carlson's allegation was based on Chatigny's actions during the appeals of a death penalty case involving convicted serial killer and rapist Michael Ross. Chatigny strongly expressed concern that Ross' lawyer was not sufficiently investigating evidence regarding Ross' mental competency. Later, an ethics complaint was brought against Chatigny. But here's the important thing that Carlson left out: a panel of judges cleared him of charges and declared his actions "reasonable." And this wasn't a whitewash by a bunch of leftists; the panel included Michael Mukasey, who went on to become President Bush's attorney general. According to media reports, several legal experts have also defended Chatigny's actions in the case.
So much for the idea that Chatigny is "biased in favor of sex offenders."
The attack on Harding -- a retired Army general -- is unlikely to fare much better. As we've pointed out, in a March 8 article, WorldNetDaily wrote that Harding has "controversial" views on the need for diversity in the intelligence community. WND claimed that Harding "long has pushed for 'ethnic diversity' as a determining factor in hiring new teams for U.S. military and intelligence agencies." The article quoted November 2003 written testimony Harding gave to a Senate subcommittee stressing the need for diversity hiring in the intelligence community. But Harding's views are neither controversial nor unique. Indeed, President Bush's Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said during a conference, "It is now our policy across this [intelligence] community that we do not screen out first generation Americans. The very people that we need in this community to speak the languages, understand the cultures, are the ones who have come to America from the distant shores." He later said, "[O]ur focus is to get a more diverse culture," and that "[w]e have got to have more diversity." Other intelligence officials have made similar statements.
So much for the idea that Harding has controversial views on diversity.
Which brings us to the ridiculous attacks on DOJ lawyers who once represented detainees: Fox News, Investor's Business Daily, and Washington Post columnists Bill Kristol and Marc Thiessen have all participated in the attacks. Several of the attackers have suggested that -- in the word of Fox contributor Monica Crowley -- the DOJ lawyers are "terrorist sympathizers." These attacks have not led to any firings, but they have resulted in condemnation from the media and from several prominent conservative lawyers as well as Mukasey. Indeed, even former independent counsel Ken Starr has slammed these attacks and compared the DOJ lawyers to John Adams and Atticus Finch.
When the attacks on the Obama administration officials lead Ken Starr to compare the targets of the attacks to Atticus Finch, it's time for the witch hunters to pack it in and go home.
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen appeared on Fox & Friends to promote his attacks on Department of Justice lawyers who previously represented or advocated for terror suspects and other detainees. Thiessen claimed the lawyers were "trying to spring terrorists out of Guantanamo" and again distorted DOJ lawyer Jennifer Daskal's past legal arguments.
In his March 8 Washington Post column, Marc Thiessen made a series of false and misleading attacks in an attempt to defend the witch hunt against Department of Justice lawyers who represented terror suspects in U.S. courts. One other argument Thiessen made also leaps out at me: Thiessen compares the DOJ lawyers who represented detainees to "mob lawyers." Thiessen wrote:
Would most Americans want to know if the Justice Department had hired a bunch of mob lawyers and put them in charge of mob cases? Or a group of drug cartel lawyers and put them in charge of drug cases? Would they want their elected representatives to find out who these lawyers were, which mob bosses and drug lords they had worked for, and what roles they were now playing at the Justice Department? Of course they would -- and rightly so.
Yet Attorney General Eric Holder hired former al-Qaeda lawyers to serve in the Justice Department and resisted providing Congress this basic information. In November, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Holder a letter requesting that he identify officials who represented terrorists or worked for organizations advocating on their behalf, the cases and projects they worked on before coming to the Justice Department, the cases and projects they've worked on since joining the administration, and a list of officials who have recused themselves because of prior work on behalf of terrorist detainees.
When someone uses the phrase "mob lawyers," what comes to mind? The first image that I thought of was that of Tom Hagen, the attorney (or consigliere) for the Corleone crime family in the Godfather saga. Hagen was intimately involved in the Corleones' crimes. It turns out that so-called "mob lawyers" have been convicted themselves for criminal activities. Of course, there is no evidence that the lawyers Thiessen is targeting have been involved in any criminal activity.
I don't mean to suggest that people accused of being involved in organized crime aren't entitled to an attorney. They are. And lawyers who have representing a person accused in an organized crime case should not be disqualified from joining the Department of Justice and being "put ... in charge of mob cases."
But Thiessen did not refer simply to "lawyers who represent defendants in organized crime cases"; he used the phrase "mob lawyers," with all the suggestion of criminality that that loaded term entails.
It also bears noting that The Washington Post itself has condemned the people involved in the attacks on the DOJ lawyers for acting as if those lawyers "had committed a crime:"
It is an effort to smear the Obama administration and the reputations of Justice Department lawyers who, before joining the administration, acted in the best traditions of this country by volunteering to take on the cases of suspected terrorists. They now find themselves the target of a video demanding that they be identified, as if they had committed a crime or needed to be exposed for subverting national security.
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.
Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen defended the witch hunt against Justice Department attorneys who previously represented terror suspects and other detainees, falsely suggesting that criticism of the witch hunt has come only from progressives, when, in fact, conservatives have also condemned the attacks.
Fox & Friends again attacked the Department of Justice for hiring lawyers who previously represented terror suspects or supported their legal arguments. But as a FoxNews.com article has noted, Bush administration lawyers also represented Guantánamo Bay detainees before working for the Justice Department, and several past Bush and Clinton DOJ officials have called these attacks "shameful" and "wrong."
From the March 4 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
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Guest-hosting Fox News' Your World, Eric Bolling asserted that "a couple months ago, the Obama administration empowered the EPA to declare five gases as dangerous gases." In fact, in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that GHGs "fit well within" the Clean Air Act's "definition of 'air pollutant' " and ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency is required under the Clean Air Act to examine the science on the effects of greenhouse gases and to issue appropriate regulations based on that assessment.
From the February 4 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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A RedState post -- advanced by the Fox Nation -- cited a recent Department of Homeland Security report noting that "[d]ependence on fossil fuels and the threat of global climate change" threatens "America's national interests" to question whether "DHS is more serious about Homeland Security than they are about advancing Obama Administration policy goals." However, defense and intelligence experts -- including a National Intelligence Council chair under President Bush -- have previously said that climate change and fossil fuel consumption are relevant to national security.
Fox News host Bill Hemmer raised the tired specter of ACORN receiving federal funding to attack Department of Housing and Urban Development funding included in President Obama's 2011 budget proposal. Conservatives in the media have exhaustively cited the possibility of federal money going to ACORN to attack health care reform legislation, the financial bailout bill, and the economic recovery act.
On February 1, Ben Stein falsely claimed that charges were not filed against "a gang of men calling themselves Black Panthers" outside a polling place on Election Day 2008 and that the decision not to prosecute was made by Attorney General Eric Holder. In fact, the Bush administration made the decision to file a civil complaint instead of criminal charges, and the Obama administration did not drop the civil case -- rather, the Justice Department "sought and obtained" the "maximum penalty" against one of the two individuals.
From the January 31 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
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Sean Hannity falsely claimed charges were dropped against a member of the New Black Panther Party who was "carrying a nightstick" outside a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008. In fact, the Obama administration won an injunction against that person.
From the January 21 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
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From the January 18 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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