While DADT might be the major focus of attention for the National Defense Authorization Act being considered now in the House, there's a provision in it that should have some light shined on it.
WASHINGTON — A provision tucked into a defense bill before Congress would direct the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate any suspected misconduct by lawyers for Guantánamo Bay detainees, opening a new chapter in a recurrent political controversy over legal ethics and the representation of terrorism suspects....
The provision would require the Pentagon inspector general to investigate instances in which there was “reasonable suspicion” that lawyers for detainees violated a Pentagon policy, generated “any material risk” to a member of the armed forces, violated a law under the inspector general’s exclusive jurisdiction, or otherwise “interfered with the operations” of the military prison at Guantánamo.
The inspector general would be required to report back to Congress within 90 days after the provision became law about any steps the Pentagon had taken in response to such conduct by either civilian or military lawyers.
Lawyers for Guantánamo detainees have reacted with outrage to the proposal, saying it would have a chilling effect on their efforts to help detainees get habeas corpus hearings or to defend them in military commission trials. They are organizing to try to persuade Congress to strip the language before enacting the final bill, which must also still pass the Senate.
“No lawyers could possibly predict what conduct might fall within the law,” said David Remes, who represents several detainees. “It would therefore be impossible for Guantánamo lawyers to represent their clients effectively and zealously.”
The amendment was introduced by GOP Rep. Jeff Miller, who calls the John Adams Project, the combined effort of the ACLU and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to assist military lawyers defending detainees, a "treacherous enterprise." Democrats worked with Miller in committee to get this in the bill.
Glenn details the background of the efforts by the extreme, Cheneyite Right to attack these lawyers.
This is all an outgrowth of the incomparably repellent McCarthyite, "Al Qaeda 7" campaign by Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney to smear detainee lawyers as disloyal Terrorist lovers, and more broadly, of the endless fear-mongering over Terrorism that continues to grip the U.S. Government. The Weekly Standard has long been targeting the John Adams lawyers for doing their job (, seeking the identity of CIA interrogators who tortured their clients), and that magazine now claims that it's the CIA that is demanding an investigation into these lawyers (Look Forward, Not Backward is, as we've seen repeatedly, only available for torturers and criminal eavesdroppers). Reflecting this intensifying mood is the latest hysterical right-wing book, this one by anti-Islam obsessive (and media favorite) Andy McCarthy, who warns -- in the title -- that "Islam and the Left" are jointly engaged in a "Grand Jihad" to "Sabotage America" (the blurbs and summaries of his book are so inane and extreme that, despite how repulsive is this screed, it's difficult to suppress one's laughter when reading them; based on small book excerpts alone, Conor Friedersdorf documents how McCarthy's book is suffused with lies). This is the McCarthyite fever swamp that is the genesis of this lawyer-targeted provision.
This is yet another example of repellent, fear-based policies that could not be (or at least were not) enacted during the Bush years yet are finding new life under Democratic Party rule. Recall that Bush Pentagon official Cully Stimson was actually forced to apologize for suggesting that lawyers who represented Guantanamo detainees were engaged in disloyal and improper acts. Yet with the Democrats in control of Washington, a provision grounded in exactly that rotted premise has now been unanimously reported out of a major House Committee. There are still barriers it has to overcome in order to become law -- including a House floor vote, a mark-up in the Senate, and then, if it makes it that far, the President's signature -- so it's still possible it can be stopped. But for that to happen, Democrats are going to have to insist on its removal. It remains to be seen if they are willing to do that.
At any one of those points--the House floor vote, the Senate mark-up, conference, or the President's desk--this provision needs to be killed. The attacks on lawyers from Liz Cheney and crew received condemnation from across the political spectrum, including a host of conservative legal scholars. It has no place in this legislation.