In a Chicago Tribune column published today, Seattle attorney Harry H. Schneider Jr. and Chicago attorney Thomas P. Sullivan lambasted Cheney's Keep America Safe group for producing an inflammatory YouTube video tagging the DOJ the "Department of Jihad," and the attorneys the "Al Qaeda Seven."
Schneider and Sullivan write:
It is hard to imagine a more reckless charge. Well, on second thought, we can think of one. Her video is reminiscent of similar tactics used during one of the darker episodes in American history, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy charged that those who insisted on due process for anyone he accused must be a Communist sympathizer or a closet enemy of the U.S.
The two defend the DOJ attorneys' previous work on behalf of military detainees, writing:
Our constitutional system requires that we afford due process to defendants even in times of genuine threat to our nation and attacks on our people. The courts depend on the willingness of lawyers to represent those accused of crimes, although their clients may be feared or hated. We have long since accepted that a lawyer who is acting as counsel for a person accused of a crime does not make the lawyer a criminal.
In an op-ed piece for the Boston Globe, Sabin Willet, an attorney with Bingham McCutchen, who has represented military detainees, wrote, "Some Americans will see the rule of law as a threat, and lawyers as the enemy. Small men with loud voices will exploit their fears on cable television. Petty politicians will mine them for votes."
Leonard Goodman, a lawyer and adjunct professor at DePaul University, who has represented a Guantanamo Bay detainee, in a March 12 Chicago Tribune op-ed took aim Sen. Grassley's efforts to force the DOJ to release names of the attorneys and Cheney's attacks, calling them "contrary to the American legal principle that even unpopular defendants deserve a lawyer."
And earlier this month, Former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, a member of the ACS Board of Advisors, wrote in a column for The Washington Post that the attacks on the DOJ lawyers by the likes of Cheney and others are "as depressing a public episode as I have witnessed in many years. What has become of our civic life in America? The only word that can do justice to the personal attacks on these fine lawyers - and on the integrity of our legal system - is shameful. Shameful."