Debra Burlingame and Thomas Joscelyn have a op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning, which I find despicable and demagogic. Sugary excerpt:
In the last several days, the debate has taken a detour about what some have called a "shameful attack" on the "noble attorneys" who have chosen to defend "unpopular people." A national security organization, Keep America Safe (of which Ms. Burlingame is a board member), used the phrase "Al Qaeda 7" in an Internet ad to describe seven unnamed Department of Justice political appointees who previously represented or advocated on behalf of terrorists.
The purpose of the ad was to prod Attorney General Eric Holder to disclose to the public which detainee attorneys he has hired to work on behalf of the American people, and whether they are involved in the policy-making decisions that will affect the nation's safety and security while we are at war. He was asked for this information by several members of the U.S. Senate, and he was stonewalling.
The attorney general has the right to select whomever he chooses to work in his department, and to set policy as he sees fit. He does not, however, have the right to do it in the dark. The policies he advances must face the scrutiny of the American people, his No. 1 client.
The public has a right to know, for instance, that one of Mr. Holder's early political hires in the department's national security division was Jennifer Daskal, a former attorney for Human Rights Watch. Her work there centered on efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, shut down military commissions—which she calls "kangaroo courts"—and set detainees who cannot be tried in civilian courts free. She has written that freeing dangerous terrorists is an "assumption of risk" that we must take in order to cleanse the nation of Guantanamo's moral stain. This suggests that Ms. Daskal, who serves on the Justice Department's Detainee Policy Task Force, is entirely in sync with Mr. Holder and a White House whose chief counterterrorism official (John Brennan) considers a 20% detainee recidivism rate "not that bad."
I find those arguments not only troubling, and ideological, but more importantly unconvincing. They are are made in a vacuum and with the implicit assumption that it is un-american to defend alleged or known terrorists and that there are times when the rule of law should become the rule of men especially if means shutting up or killing the lawyers who dare to question the actions of their government. The central issue of this whole debate isn't about a few lawyers who can easily be scapegoated as defenders of Al Qaeda, but rather whether, even in times of crisis and of great uncertainties, America still believes in its own laws and will view as normal Americans, its citizen, who hold the rule of law as sacred, and who choose to defend that principle above all else when their government isn't, . It's always easy to blame the lawyers when the politics of terrorism have become almost so one-sided and Manichean and, that thus, only radicalism can help score political points.