Liz Cheney isn't careful about the words she throws around. She uses terrorist and killer the way normal people use words like salt and pepper. To her, they are just words. That's probably the scariest part of all.
When the "al-Qaida Seven" and their two DoJ colleagues fought to defend alleged terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, they weren't fighting to protect jihadist murderers. They were defending the U.S. Constitution—the great whomping chunks of the Bill of Rights that Cheney and her friends are so eager to write out of existence. They did it because that's what lawyers are ethically obligated to do. They did it because—as Spencer Ackerman points out—the Military Commissions Act of 2006 expressly provided that detainees get defense lawyers. And they did it, as Jay Bookman notes, for the same reason John Adams agreed to represent British soldiers charged with killing civilians during the Boston Massacre in 1770. Because long before Liz Cheney was born and long after she's gone, the Bill of Rights requires serious people to take it seriously.
I should probably disclose at this juncture that I know several members of the nefarious "al-Qaida Nine." If I ever get to meet the rest of them, I will buy them a beer. Which, through the magic of Liz Cheney's transitive guilt property, doubtless makes me a jihadist as well.
Liz Cheney will weasel her way out of this week's hyperbole. She's already trying to parse her way out of the embarrassing fact that the Bush Department of Justice and Rudy Giuliani's law firm also housed traitorous Gitmo lawyers. Now, Keep America Safe says its problem is only with pro bono Gitmo lawyers. Yesterday, Cheney told Washington Times radio she "doesn't question anybody's loyalty." She just objects to the criminal justice model of dealing with terror. Those words jihad and al- Qaida? Having helped make them the foulest words in America, she wants you to think they're mere words.
Too late. Wednesday night, Liz Cheney told Bill O'Reilly that Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr "killed Americans." His trial doesn't start until July. So before you call the Justice Department to question the loyalty of the "al-Qaida Nine," ask yourself whether you really want to take the Bill of Rights out of the hands of the lawyers, courts, and officials sworn to defend it. Having worked for years to ensure that the word jihadist is legally synonymous with guilty, Cheney cannot be allowed to use it casually to describe anyone she simply doesn't like.
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