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March 09, 2010

What In The World Was Ken Starr Thinking Going On Countdown To Attack The Critics Of The Gitmo Terrorist Lawyers?

Olby wasn’t there but he did phone in a comment to welcome the man he once noted kind of looks like Henrich Himmler to the fight.

After trotting out the John Adams analogy, which I noted yesterday I don’t find very convincing, Starr went on to play the “To Kill A Mockingbird” card*.

We need to encourage young lawyers and law students to do that which all of us who have been in the profession for as i have several decades to know, this is very important. Don't just take on the popular causes. It's the people who really do need representation, who may be excluded from the community.

The great example that a lot of law students have read this, the before law school is the story in "to kill a mockingbird" Atticus Finch defending an African-American defendant. Did that make him popular in that small southern town? Absolutely not. He became a pariah in his own community. But he explained to his children, he explained to his kids I've got to do this as matter of conscience. It wasn't just his conscience. It was the conscience of a profession, a great profession, that John Adams embodied, Thurgood Marshall embodied, and many lawyers day in and day out embody by being willing to stand up to the crowd and saying, no. We stand for the justice system and that everyone has his or her right to representation.

These lawyers went far beyond ensuring the detainees had representation (the military had already provided that). What the lawyers for the detainees did was try (and to a great degree they succeeded) to overturn decades old precedents and expand on the rights detainees had traditionally been accorded.

The real nub of this whole issue is the bolded bit. Non-America terrorists detained and held outside the borders of the United States are by definition ‘excluded from the community’. What the lawyers who volunteered to assist the detainees wanted to do was include them in the American community and accord themthe rights and privileges that go with that status.

These terrorists have placed themselves outside the legal strictures of the international community (the Geneva Conventions) by their own actions. To reward their behavior by enabling them to cloak themselves in the even greater protections of the US civilian court system is a perversion of justice, not a furtherance of it.

Marc Thiessen , the current bête noire of the left (warning Gawker link), gets to the heart of it

The habeas lawyers were not doing their constitutional duty to defend unpopular criminal defendants. They were using the federal courts as a tool to undermine our military's ability to keep dangerous enemy combatants off the battlefield in a time of war.

I know that many lawyers see their work as not simply a profession but almost a priestly calling. Starr wants he and his fellow high priests to set the standards of their conduct and not have to defend their actions in the rough and tumble world of politics. I hate to break it to Judge Starr (actually, I don’t)…the legal profession is just that, a profession. You and your fellows are not the keepers of The One and Only Truth and you are not beyond question and reproach.

Starr is entitled to his opinion on the status of these lawyers and the propriety of their actions but, so too are Liz Cheney, Bill Kristol and the rest of the folks at Keep America Safe. This is a contest of ideas conservatives should welcome. I have no doubt that a majority of Americans will side with those of us take issue with the hiring of these lawyers to work in the Department of Justice.

What I do hold against Starr is the choice of venue. Aside from the personal attack by Olbermann on him and the general contempt in with which conservatives in general are treated on that show, Olbermann pretty much says worse about John Yoo, David Addington and (just one video of Olby) other Bush era lawyers on a nightly basis than Keep America Safe has said about these 7 lawyers. Where was judge Starr's outrage about that? Why reward a program that regularly engages in the behavior you claim to be so bothered by?

Last night’s guest host was Crazy Larry O’Donnell. Maybe the two of them go way back, I don’t know but the fact that Starr went on that show is unforgivable. How long have conservatives and Republicans spent defending Starr’s integrity and reputation only to have him go running to his attackers the first chance he get?

Judge Starr, they only let you on because you were willing to be their pet Republican attacking other Republicans. They’ll turn on you the next time you fail to toe the line. Don’t expect anyone from this side of the debate to come to your defense.

*The Countdown website doesn't have a transcript of last night's show up yet so I used the one at the link. It's a real time transcription so there may be some errors and I cleaned up the capitalization and removed the time code.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:09 PM

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