Liz Cheney’s ‘Al-Qaeda seven’ revealed
Yesterday, this page posted a piece on the disturbing and despicable tactics being employed by Liz Cheney’s ‘Keep America Safe’ gang in seeking the names of seven Justice Department attorneys accused by the organization – and others – of aiding terrorist detainees.
Today, the Justice Department released the names. Let’s take a look at who they are and what they have done that has caused Ms. Cheney and her ilk to impugn these government employees by calling them “The Al-Qaeda Seven“.
Jonathan Cedarbaum and Eric Columbus – Cedarbaum is currently an attorney in the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel while Columbus serves as senior counsel in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. Both men, while attorneys at the white shoe law firm, WillmerHale, participated in providing a legal defense to six Bosnian-Algerian detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay. In that matter, these men were part of the team that brought Boumediene v. Bush before the Supreme Court in the effort to establish the terrorist detainees had the right to challenge their incarceration via a writ of habeus corpus. Cedarbaum, Columbus and their co-counsel won the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Karl Thompson – Also an attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel, Thompson, while working at the ultra-white shoe firm of O’Melveny & Myers, was one of seven attorneys to represent Canadian Omar Khadr, the Canadian born citizen who was captured in Afghanistan when 16 years old and remains at Guantanamo Bay.
Joseph Guerra – Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General, Guerra, while an attorney at uber-white shoe firm, Sidley Austin, representing three civil liberties groups, including the conservative Rutherford Institute, on whose behalf he filed a brief on behalf of Jose Padilla, the U.S. citizen held in Guantanamo. The brief urged the Supreme Court to hear Padilla’s case as to why he should be tried in a civilian court rather than a military tribunal. The case became moot when the Bush Administration voluntarily decided to try Padilla in a civilian court.
Tali Farhadian – An attorney in the Office of the Attorney General, while working at Debevoise & Plimpton, Farhadian filed an amicus brief (friend of the court) with the U.S. Court of Appeals, in support of their hearing the case of Ali al-Marri, an alleged enemy combatant who was being held on U.S. soil rather than Guantanamo.
Beth Brinkmann - Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the DOJ Civil Division, while a partner with the firm Morrison & Foerster, helped write two Supreme Court legal briefs involving issues relating to terrorist detainees.
Tony West – Assistant Attorney General in the DOJ Civil Division, West provided a defense for famous American Taliban, John Walker Lindh, while employed as an attorney at Morrison & Forrester. Note that this was no secret and was a matter of some controversy when his nomination to his current position was sent to the Senate for confirmation. While West’s confirmation was delayed a few months, he was ultimately confirmed, with full knowledge on the part of the Senate, in April, 2009.
I’ve already written about the two Justice Department attorneys whose names were previously disclosed.
There are few things that jump out as we review the list. For starters, each and every attorney in question provided their legal assistance while working at the nation’s largest and best-known law firms. Having worked in this environment, I can tell you for a certainty that matters such as this are not taken on without the full approval of the managing board of the firm. I can also tell you that each and every one of these firms has clients that, by no stretch of the imagination, would be identified as being ‘okay’ with their law firm sympathizing with terrorists.
So, why did these attorneys get involved? Because the nation’s best lawyers and law firms will always be attracted to the most interesting and important legal issues of our time. And these issues were –and are- huge.
Since writing my article on this yesterday, I’ve received some comments indicating that the purpose of Cheney’s advertisement was to get the names of these lawyers so that a determination could be made as to whether or not they belong in the Justice Department. Nonsense. She could have done that without impugning these people by calling them terrorist sympathizers and “The Al-Qaeda Seven” without even knowing their identities.
I can hear my more conservative anti-Obama Administration friends thinking that nothing I’ve written here necessarily convinces them that people who have been involved defending terrorists should be working at the Department of Justice. Indeed, The Weekly Standard has even accused me of missing the point of Cheney’s advertisement in rising to her defense.
Those of you who believe that the Obama DOJ is harboring terrorist sympathizers – and that includes The Weekly Standard- might want to read the following information provided courtesy of Fox News. It turns out that the Obama DOJ is not the first to employee attorneys who fit this bill – something Ms. Cheney and friends didn’t bother to learn before launching their outrageous attack -
Pratik Shah, an assistant to the Solicitor General hired by the Bush Administration, was part of the WilmerHale team that put together arguments for the Boumediene v. Bush case. Trisha Anderson, an adviser in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel who was also hired by the Bush Administration, was previously an attorney at Attorney General Eric Holder’s former firm, Covington & Burling, where she helped represent 13 Yemeni detainees. Varda Hussain, an attorney hired in 2008 with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, was an associate with the Washington-based firm Venable when she helped represent three Egyptians being held at Guantanamo Bay. ”Varda has spent over 500 hours in the past year fighting to bring due process to our clients,” a firm newsletter said in 2006.
Despite this information, Michelle Malkin, who has previous labeled the current crop of DOJ attorneys who worked on detainee cases as ‘jihadist’, made a lame attempt to put a positive spin on the Fox report, despite the fact that Fox News was pouring cold water all over the whole jihadist lawyer thing. Apparently, Michelle can’t be bothered with confusing a good trashing with the truth – even when that truth is reported by her own allies. Somehow, attorneys who work for the Bush Administration, having previously represented terrorist detainees, are patriotic Americans. Attorneys in the same shoes working for the Obama Administration are a part of Eric Holder’s “national security cover-up.”
The bottom line here is that, no matter who you are or what ideology you subscribe to, failing to condemn Cheney, Bill Kristol and the rest of the folks at Keep America Safe, not to mention Michelle Malkin and others of her ilk, is simply an exercise in failing to understand American principles and values. And that condemnation should be loud and it should be clear.
We don’t do McCarthyism anymore and anyone who would stand up for an individual or organization looking to bring back one of the most horrendous chapters of American history not only doesn’t get it but is guilty of the most egregious disregard and denial of American ideals and values.