Saturday, March 13, 2010

Required Reading for Lawyers (and Everyone Else)

The group Keep America Safe recently ran an ad pressuring the Obama Administration to reveal the names of seven Justice Department lawyers (appointed under this Administration) who in the past volunteered to represent Guantanamo detainees. In this weekend's Wall Street Journal, in the Weekend Journal section, are two essays on the subject.

One essay is written by Stephen Jones, the lawyer who represented, upon judicial request,Timothy McVeigh. Mr. Jones' essay is in line with the published opinions of many other lawyers regarding the propriety of the Keep America Safe ad. But his essay also includes harrowing details of Mr. Jones' life during and after his representation of McVeigh.

The other essay is written by Andrew C. McCarthy, who as an A.U.S.A. in the Southern District of New York prosecuted Omar Abdel-Rahman, known as the Blind Sheikh, and his co-conspirators, for the so-called Bridges and Tunnels terrorism plot. Whatever its prescriptive merit, McCarthy's essay is certainly courageous, as he stakes out a position strikingly at odds with the near-universal opinion (shared by lawyers on both sides of what may loosely be called the national security debate) that the Keep America Safe ad was out-of-bounds. McCarthy does a service at least to this extent: he points out a number of relevant legal distinctions between the circumstances of the detainees and the so-called "al Qaeda Seven" on the one hand, and prior defendants and their attorneys on the other hand, that lawyers like Mr. Jones, for example, have used to substantiate the out-of-bounds nature of the Keep America Safe ad. McCarthy writes more extensively on his views here.

The best and most balanced thing I have read on the subject was written by former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. That essay calls foul both the demonization of the likes of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, and of the so-called "al Qaeda Seven." And for the same reason.

1 comment:

David Hutchinson said...

I somehow forgot to add the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as being an aspect of the case that McCarthy prosecuted. Sorry.