Liz Cheney’s Real Motives

Liz Cheney has followed a rather predictable path for the offspring of a war criminal. As the daughter of Dick Cheney, she was handed a position at the State Department, then attended law school, followed by more feeding at the tough and plum appointments based on her DNA, including a stint at Dick Armitage’s consulting firm. You might recall Armitage as one of the operatives involved in Iran-Contra, so Liz was pretty much surrounded by people who demonstrated a shocking lack of respect for niggling details like the law, the constitution and basic human decency from diapers through degree.

Liz has, for some time now, been appearing in front of any camera she can find to argue that waterboarding is not torture; that valuable intelligence was gained from torture; that Obama is soft on terrorism and his policies put America at risk, and generally lying her ass off in defense of anything and everything her daddy did.

More recently, Liz has taken to attacking lawyers in the Department of Justice because some of them previously represented detainees held at Gitmo. In ads, press releases and media appearances, she has taken to calling these attorneys “The Al Qaeda 7” and asserting that the DOJ ought to be renamed The Department of Jihad.

Having graduated from law school herself, she surely knows that an accused is entitled to counsel; that lawyers are duty bound to represent clients even when they find their clients distasteful…or even reprehensible. She also knows that in cases involving “enemy combatants”, where the government seeks to try people in secret, withholds evidence, obtains confessions by coercion (read torture), and refuses to grant defendants access to counsel literally for years, it is of paramount importance that able defense counsel ensure that the standards of American justice are met.
None of that gives Liz Cheney the slightest pause. She does not hesitate for one moment to employ the tactics of Joe McCarthy – implying that DOJ lawyers are sympathetic to terrorists.

Now, even Conservative legal heavyweights are calling her out for this play.

On Friday, the conservative blog Power Line put up a post titled, “An Attack That Goes Too Far.” Author Paul Mirengoff, called Cheney’s effort to brand DoJ officials the “Al Qaeda 7,” “vicious” and “unfounded” even if it was right to criticize defense lawyers for voluntarily doing work on behalf of Gitmo detainees.

Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, declaring that what Cheney was doing was comparable if not potentially worse than the notorious anti-communist crusades launched by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

“It could be worse than some of the assertions made by McCarthy, depending on some of the validity of those assertions,” Mirengoff said, explaining that at least McCarthy was correct in pinpointing individuals as communist sympathizers. “It is just baseless to suggest that [these DoJ officials] share al Qaeda values… they didn’t actually say it but I think it was a fair implication of what they were saying.”

In a statement to the American Prospect, John Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, called the effort “unfortunate.”

“It reflects the politicization and the polarization of terrorism issues,” Bellinger said. “Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be attacking officials in each other’s administrations based solely on the clients they have represented in the past.”

Ted Olson — who served as a lead counsel in Bush v. Gore and solicitor general of the United States — co-authored an article for Legal Times in which he said that efforts to demonize detainee defense lawyers are antithetical to American values.

Liz is not backing down. Not for a heartbeat. Her organization released a statement which said, in part: “”The American people have a right to know whether lawyers who voluntarily flocked to Guantanamo to take up the cause of the terrorists are currently working on detainee issues in President Obama’s Justice Department.”

Liz Cheney is, at least on the face of it, not stupid enough to believe there’s an arguable case to make that DOJ lawyers have a conflict of interest. While they would not be able to work on the case of any particular detainee they had represented in the past, the suggestion that having done so renders them incapable of dealing with these matters entirely is not only wrong, it’s 1L ignorant wrong.

The suggestion that she, like Daddy Dearest, is simply an arch conservative who will stoop to any level to muddy up the waters and make life difficult for the current administration certainly has some traction, but if that’s the goal why not recruit someone with rather more experience in handling such matters. Liz’s USAID and Near East portfolios at the State Department certainly don’t give her any claim to expertise in these matters, nor does her total lack of experience at the criminal bar.

I believe Liz Cheney’s motives for this unseemly, rotten, backward, disgusting smear campaign lie much closer to home. The goal is to taint anyone who might, in the process of dealing with Gitmo trials, come across evidence that supports trying her father for crimes against humanity.

If the DOJ is staffed by lawyers who are already intimately familiar with the nature of the abuse suffered by detainees; with the egregious violations of American and international law; with the utter disregard for the demands of justice under the US Constitution, the climate – the work environment created by ethical, experienced lawyers – might well result in any damning materials that are uncovered forming the subject of an investigation.

If, on the other hand, the DOJ is staffed by lawyers more in the style of John Woo and Alberto Gonzalez – people who will write legal opinions justifying anything; look the other way as core principles of American legal process and justice are flogged like a red-headed stepchild, and who were only ever interested in helping to knot the noose around detainees necks, that DOJ is far less likely to draw together or investigate evidence that former Vice President Dick Cheney was personally responsible for war crimes.

Liz knows full well there’s no reasonable grounds to impugn the character of DOJ lawyers. She knows they are not only competent, but in the case of particular named attorneys, they represent the absolute cream of the legal crop. She also knows that none of them are Al Qaeda sympathizers; none are anti-American; none pose any sort of risk to national security. Yet this is precisely the message she intends and implies with this latest media campaign.
She does all of this because Liz, while lacking the sort of experience to make the arguments she is sadly and pathetically making, does know that her father (if the truth is ever fully revealed) stands as good a chance of hanging as Khalid Sheik Mohammad.


3 Responses

  1. Right on the mark Cuz.
    In fact, as soon as Dick started speaking out, my gut reaction was that he was doing it for only one reason — and not “legacy”. Like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, I figured that Dick was doing it so that WHEN, not if, they get smacked down, they can claim that their punishment is due only to the fact that the liberals are trying to shut them up. I could never figure out how one would negotiate that last 16penny when nailing themself to the cross.

    Of course, Dick’s potential smackdown will be much more harsh than some radiowingnuts talking trash. Dick, as you say, might get the chair kicked out from under him. Or bent over one in a Supermax.

  2. The Cheney’s make me vomit out of my asshole.

  3. Oddly enough Zirgar, I was doing that very thing a couple of weeks back.

    Cousinavi gives about the most plausible explanation of Lez Cheney’s actions, along with some good analysis.

    There are only two other plausible explanations/factors I can think of.

    1) Getting paid. Much of what goes on inside the beltway is about advancing your career, no matter how disingenuous you have to be to do it. Maybe she’s just spouting this shit as a way of laying groundwork for a run for political office or a gig at FOX Noise or something.

    2) She just likes torture THAT much.

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