by Andy Worthington
hat tip: Campaign for Liberty
Republican Witch-hunters Embrace Dictatorship
Are there no depths to which conservatives will not sink in their ardent embrace of the war on terrorism? The latest monstrosity from the right came courtesy of Keep America Safe, a toxic organization headed by Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently put out a disgraceful TV ad, “Who Are the Al-Qaeda Seven?” The ad questioned the loyalty and patriotism of nine lawyers in the Justice Department who had represented prisoners at Guantánamo before joining the DoJ.
To be fair, Liz Cheney’s ad has backfired badly, drawing the ire not only of those on the left, but also of heavyweight conservatives, nineteen of whom signed a statement last week denouncing it, declaring, “We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications,” and adding that the attacks on the lawyers “undermine the Justice system more broadly,” by “delegitimizing” any system in which accused terrorists have lawyers, whether that system is federal court trials or military commissions.
Those who signed the statement included former Solicitor General Ken Starr, former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, former White House lawyer Brad Berenson, John Bellinger, the former legal adviser to the National Security Council and the State Department, and two former detainee policy officials in the Bush administration, Matthew Waxman, and Charles “Cully” Stimson, who, ironically, was himself forced to resign from the DoD in 2007 after starting a similar witch-hunt against corporate law firms whose lawyers represented prisoners at Guantánamo.
It’s happened again. Another well meaning soul insisting that EveryOne is to blame for the mess that engulfs the U.S. politically, militarily and economically because in our political system, the country gets what it votes for. Therefore, ‘we are all responsible.’
Some may get their kicks from an existential guilt trip, but please count me out.
First, we almost never get what we think we voted for. Just a few examples: Remember George W. saying he’d be a ‘uniter, not a divider’? Before the vote he also said yes to more social programs, lower taxes and a balanced budget. Franklin Roosevelt said he’d keep the U.S. out of foreign wars and Richard Nixon said he’d end the war in Viet Nam.
Before election day, voters are bombarded with ads, negative and positive, and promises, some vague, some not. Complicating the process is the media which prefers sound bites to substance. Voters negotiate the mine field and cast their ballots for the person who does the best job of convincing them that he or she will fulfill their fantasy.
Every few years we go to the polls and pin our hopes on a Rorschach ink blot shaped like a person.
Don’t blame me for this.
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2009 list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” The list, in alphabetical order, includes:
- Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT): This marks two years in a row for Senator Dodd, who made the 2008 “Ten Most Corrupt” list for his corrupt relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and for accepting preferential treatment and loan terms from Countrywide Financial, a scandal which still dogs him. In 2009, the scandals kept coming for the Connecticut Democrat. In 2009, Judicial Watch filed a Senate ethics complaint against Dodd for undervaluing a property he owns in Ireland on his Senate Financial Disclosure forms. Judicial Watch’s complaint forced Dodd to amend the forms. However, press reports suggest the property to this day remains undervalued. Judicial Watch also alleges in the complaint that Dodd obtained a sweetheart deal for the property in exchange for his assistance in obtaining a presidential pardon (during the Clinton administration) and other favors for a long-time friend and business associate. The false financial disclosure forms were part of the cover-up. Dodd remains the head the Senate Banking Committee.
- Senator John Ensign (R-NV): A number of scandals popped up in 2009 involving public officials who conducted illicit affairs, and then attempted to cover them up with hush payments and favors, an obvious abuse of power. The year’s worst offender might just be Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign. Ensign admitted in June to an extramarital affair with the wife of one of his staff members, who then allegedly obtained special favors from the Nevada Republican in exchange for his silence. According to The New York Times: “The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee are expected to conduct preliminary inquiries into whether Senator John Ensign violated federal law or ethics rules as part of an effort to conceal an affair with the wife of an aide…” The former staffer, Douglas Hampton, began to lobby Mr. Ensign’s office immediately upon leaving his congressional job, despite the fact that he was subject to a one-year lobbying ban. Ensign seems to have ignored the law and allowed Hampton lobbying access to his office as a payment for his silence about the affair. (These are potentially criminal offenses.) It looks as if Ensign misused his public office (and taxpayer resources) to cover up his sexual shenanigans.