Liz Cheney and the Lawyers

March 6, 2010

So Liz Cheney (former Vice President Cheney’s darker incarnation) and her pals on the Way Far Right have taken out after lawyers who work for the Justice Department now and used to represent detainees. Never mind that, when lawyers who represented detainees later worked for the Justice Department in the GWB Administration, there was nary a public peep from Ms. Cheney, Bill Kristol (a fellow board member with Ms. Cheney at Keep America Safe) or anyone who talks on Fox News. And never mind the fact that Ted Olson–it was his lawyering that put W over the top in the Supreme Court in the last days of 2000, and it was his wife Barbara who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001–took out after Ms. Cheney for her comments! Never mind all that, because I have but one question for Ms. Cheney and her gang of crazies:

What gives with the criticism of lawyers for supporting a cause, as opposed to simply being in it for the money?

(Supporting terrorism is hardly noble, but if someone thinks terrorism is a worthy cause, we can hardly say they are unprincipled when they support that cause. Misguided, crazy and absolutely best dead, but not unprincipled.)

I’m confused because, for most of my career as a lawyer, I’ve listened to your crowd complain about lawyers only being in it for the money. Y’all have been after trial lawyers for decades. (BTW, every trial I’ve ever been in has always had at least two lawyers, and whenever the crowd you like shows up for court, they’re always represented, and always by well-paid, highly skilled lawyers.) You come at us hard, constantly, as if society’s ills will vanish if we can just get rid of the lawyers!

Have you changed your minds? Decided lawyers really might be principled from time to time. That we might be so scrupulous that we’ll give up money to support a cause? If so, welcome to the right side of the line. Now, just take another step or two in the right direction and consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, the principle these lawyers have advocated, and continue to advocate, is adherence to the law. The law as it is written in the Constitution. The law as the U.S. Supreme Court applied it in case after case, against the Bush Administration, with respect to detainee rights. Maybe, just maybe, that’s the principle these lawyers–these people you claim are so principled that they adopt their clients’ causes, never mind the money–are following!

P.S. When y’all rant about safety concerns if terrorists are tried in the United States, how ‘bout a little candor? The decision to store people at Guantanamo was never based on any worry about U.S. security, and you know it! Guantanamo was always about the oddity that is Guantanamo:  Kind of “U.S. lite,” controlled by us but … not too much, so we can run the place but we don’t have to follow U.S. law when we do it. For pity’s sake, how ‘bout a little bit of honesty? Just a little? Please?

Leave a Reply