Ken Starr defends lawyers who represented Gitmo detainees

It started with a political noise machine.  Before their appointments to the U.S. Department of Justice, it seems that several current DOJ lawyers defended Gitmo detainees on a pro bono basis.

Apparently former Vice President Cheney’s daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, is connected to the group that posted this YouTube video smearing lawyers who dared to represent Gitmo detainees.

It’s a bit shameless because Ms. Cheney apparently employs a double standard on terrorism.  It seems amazing that her group attacks Department of Justice Lawyers.  Remember the white supremacist who attacked the Holocaust museum, killing innocents? Ms. Cheney held forth on that one, discounting the connection between “political discourse,” terrorism,  and the white supremacist who shot and killed people there.

Her attack on lawyers who served the system annoyed me to no end. That’s why I was heartened to see this video clip of former Whitewater Special Prosecutor Ken Starr explaining why Cheney and her ilk are so very wrong.

Let’s be clear.  Those who slaughter innocents should be tried. And if convicted they should be punished. But let us not forget that we pride ourselves as being a nation founded on the rule of law.  I suppose Ms. Cheney falls victim of that great myth that anyone accused must be guilty. So if that’s true, had her father been indicted for war crimes, would she simply agree that he was guilty? Of course not.  That can’t really be different because this is a hard case. We either presume innocence, or we don’t. No double standards. No special exceptions for accused terrorists.

Those who presume that anyone at Gitmo is guilty are taking the government at its word.  Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s such a good idea.  I prefer trials. With evidence. And judges.  Yes, I am totally old fashioned.

Rev 10 March 2010

Lee Keller King says

Here, here!

Any one of us could a criminal defendant tomorrow; our attorney being the only thing standing between us and prison.

If we assume the detainees are guilty, why should we get the benefit of the presumption of innocence?


David Sugerman says

Thanks Lee-
I suppose those who led us into this mess would quickly retort that there are no constitutional rights for an "enemy combatant." But of course, that's a new category and label that is neither fish nor fowl.

In pre-911 days, those who fought against the U.S. and who were captured at war were prisoners of war subject to the protections of the Geneva Convention. We were told that these people weren't soldiers, so POW rules did not apply.

Fine. If they aren't enemy soldiers and they are supposedly attacking us, then their conduct falls into the criminal justice system, where the presumption of innocence, mandamus and the Fourth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments apply. Seems pretty clear that Ms. Cheney and her ilk would say that's wrong, too. So if they are neither POWs protected by the Geneva convention nor criminal defendants subject to constitutional protections, where are we?

health insurance says

Obama is probably the most centrist president we have had in the last 10 administrations. You need to look at what he is doing and not the way it is spun on TV. The crime here is that Americans have become so hypnotized by the box in our living rooms that we no longer think about the actions of our leaders. Obama is just as plugged into the Military Industrial Complex as Bush was. Obama is continuing almost all of the Bush era policies (except for Nukes and Gays in the Military). He is even expanding Afghanistan and now opening up more oil drilling of all things. Americans need to get informed rather than hypnotized.

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