Marc Thiessen defends the “al-Qaeda 7” attack ad by likening the attorneys who defended detainees in Guantanamo, as well as José Pedilla, John Walker Lindh, and others to “mob lawyers” and “drug cartel lawyers.”
Setting aside the obvious point that even mobsters and drug lords deserve representation in a court of law, we should not get sucked into Thiessen’s argument that The Public Has a Right to Know when Justice Department lawyers have experience advocating the rights of the accused. He’s created a false equivalency that would seem to mine new depths in intellectual dishonesty were it not for this next question:
Where was the moral outrage when fine lawyers like John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Jim Haynes, Steve Bradbury and others came under vicious personal attack?
That is the dumbest question I have ever read in the pages of WaPo — a feat, given the other members of the op/ed brain trust over there. But I’ll humor him. Here’s the obvious answer: we were too busy being outraged by the unethical and illegal advice the “fine lawyers” gave to an administration too eager to apply techniques favored by the Khmer Rouge and Augusto Pinochet’s thugs. Besides, it is hard to get too vicious in attacking a guy like John Yoo who can be so cavalier about massacring villagers and crushing little boy’s testicles.
UPDATED to include this excellent riposte by Dahlia Lithwick:
Ten years ago, if some paranoid hysteric accused you of being an al-Qaida sympathizer or a jihadist, you could find a lawyer to help you make the case that you were not. But in the ever-expanding war on the Bill of Rights being waged by Liz Cheney, once you’re designated a terrorist, you lose your Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Because just by representing you—even if you’re acquitted—your lawyers become terrorists, too!