by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
I cannot agree that Mr. Potemra makes a valid point. I do not see any legitimate policy dispute giving rise to the demand for these attorneys' names. What they did was advocate for the due process rights of their clients, arguing against indefinite detention and trial by military tribunals which lacked basic procedural protections. That such representation could be described as "highly controversial" by Mr. Potemra only serves to show how far afield the far right has become. Have we really gotten to a place where it is debatable whether those we are detaining for years, possibly forever, should actually receive competent legal counsel to assert whatever modicum of rights they may have?
In essence, this quest for these attorneys' names is merely a political play by Grassley, Cheney, et al. to paint this administration as pro terrorist by claiming that they are now employing ("harboring") al-Qaeda sympathizers in the Justice Department. There is no legitimate policy dispute to be found in all this posturing.
If there was, then every lawyer that has ever represented a criminal defendant, that later seeks to work for the government in a role other than as a public defender, should be investigated publicly for any potential conflict of interest between their past clients and their future work for the state or federal government which incarcerated them. This is just simply ridiculous. The EPA has certainly hired many lawyers that used to represent polluters, because they are intimately familiar with the environmental laws that the EPA is charged with enforcing. I actually have several law school classmates who were very concerned with environmental issues and went work for corporate firms representing polluters because they hoped to gain the necessary legal expertise to one day work for the EPA. When is the last time that you heard a public outcry to expose such individuals?
I do not doubt that Grassley is playing a political game here. But I still think it was a valid point because even Holder acknowledged potential conflicts of interest (though of course he could have been simply placating Grassley). Also, the reader insists that the attorneys' opposition to indefinite detention is not controversial, yet the Obama administration itself is holding nearly 50 detainees indefinitely.
Transparency is always my default preference. Having the names become public is not a smear unto itself; it is the dark insinuations that make demands for transparency deplorable. (Though of course, in the political arena, "simply asking questions" is often a smear unto itself.)
By the way, for a great reax of the controversy, see Max Fisher.