When Kenneth Starr is on your back for obstructing due process, you know that your circle of allies is shrinking.
Liz Cheney 'Al-Qaeda 7' Ad Disgusts More Conservatives
A group of 19 prominent Bush administration officials and other lawyers launched an offensive Monday, attacking Liz Cheney for a recent ad by her group, Keep America Safe, that questioned the loyalties of Department of Justice lawyers that had represented Guantanamo detainees.
In a statement signed by nine former Bush officials and 10 other lawyers, critics condemned the ads as a "shameful series of attacks...both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications."
The letter defends the current selection of Department of Justice attorneys saying that "the American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients is at least as old as John Adams's representation of the British soldiers charged in the Boston massacre ...To suggest the Justice Department should not employ talented lawyers who have advocated on behalf of detainees maligns the patriotism of people who have taken honorable positions on contested questions and demands a uniformity of background and view in government service from which no administration would benefit."
Perhaps the most unexpected signature is that of Charles "Cully" D. Stimson, who stepped down from the top Pentagon position determining detainee policy in 2007 following a radio interview in which he said that companies shouldn't hire law firms that provide pro bono services to detainees.
He told Newsweek's Declassified blog that attacks such as Cheney's latest ad were "below the belt," because they "question the integrity" of lawyers for representing their clients.
The Declassified blog also breaks down some of letter's lineup of signatories:
Among the signers of Wittes's letter are a virtual "who's who" of officials who worked on counterterrorism policies under President Bush. In addition to Stimson, they include: John Bellinger, former chief counsel to the National Security Council and the State Department; Larry Thompson, former deputy attorney general; Charles Rosenberg, former chief of staff at the Justice Department; Peter Keisler, former assistant attorney general at the civil division and the official who was in charge of representing the government in cases brought by Guantánamo detainees; Daniel Dell'Orto, former general counsel at the Pentagon; Matthew Waxmann, former deputy assistant secretary of defense in charge of detainee affairs; and Bradford Berenson, former White House associate counsel.
Former solicitor general Kenneth Starr, as well as two key proponents of George W. Bush's terror policies, David Rivkin and Lee Casey, also round out the list.
I found the historical point about John Adams a nice touch. Just as freedom of speech covers unpopular speech, due process covers unpopular clientele.