Saturday, March 06, 2010


"The right is treating the lawyers who came up with the justification for torture as heroes, and the lawyers like Katyal who helped restore the rule of law as villains," says Frakt. "They've just got their heads screwed on backwards."
The New McCarthyism is becoming increasingly disturbing. This neo-McCarthyism seemed at first like yet another whackjob meme drooling out of the mouths of the nuttier rightwingers. But it has caught on. Andrew McCarthy (appropriate name, Andy!) last year wondered aloud about terrorist sympathizers in the Obama administration. That meme has apparently captured the fearful imaginations of many on the right. Adam Serwer shows how the terrorism lawyers theme has since unfolded. Then...
On Tuesday, all attempts at subtlety were abandoned. Keep America Safe, the conservative advocacy group which was founded by Liz Cheney to defend torture and oppose civilian trials for suspected terrorists and which has close ties to McCarthy, turned the Gitmo Nine into the "al-Qaeda Seven." The group put out a Web video demanding that Holder name the other Justice Department lawyers who had previously represented terrorist detainees or worked on similar issues for groups that opposed the Bush administration's near-limitless assumption of executive power. "Whose values do they share?" a voice asks ominously. "Americans have a right to know the identity of the al-Qaeda Seven." The ad echoed McCarthy's references to the "al-Qaeda bar" from months earlier.
Liz Cheney (also at TPM), Chuck Grassley, and the Washington Times lead the McCarthyite charge. Then CNN mainstreams it. What's next, Saddam-like executions of lawyers for treason?

My God. These people are irresponsible monsters. What can one say? Do we have to fight against something this ignorant, absurd, and reckless?


Anonymous said...

Joseph McCarthy was ultimately proven to be correct about communists in the US State Department. He was censured, because he could not substantiate his claims at the time. After the fall of the Soviet Union, many of the KGB's records were made public.

The NKVD had agents in the US as early as 1934. They curtailed some operations during WWII, because the US was allied. It has since been confirmed that Alger Hiss was indeed a communist agent, along with John Abt, and Lee Pressman with Whittaker Chambers as their courier. Robert Soblen infiltrated Sandia National Laboratories in the 1950s. They had also infiltrated NACA (the predecessor to NASA) and stole much of our fighter plane designs. Over a dozen communist agents infiltrated the Treasury Department as part of the Silvermaster ring.

Of course, it's well known that the Hollywood Ten were all communists too. So McCarthy was basically proven right. Why use his name to try to lambaste people?

helmut said...

Everything's just all roses on the right, eh? Everything's got an excuse. Torture, McCarthyism, increasingly violent demagoguery,....

Sorry, I'm not interested in attempts to whitewash history in order to rehabilitate people, methods, and events that are plainly on the wrong side of moral decency.

Yup, there were Soviet agents in the US, and vice versa. Some people read Marx!

McCarthyism, however - given its name because of the fanaticism of its godfather - was an anti-democratic and homophobic attempt to purge the country of anyone leaning to the left. It demagogically whipped up fear of teh evil in our midst. Kind of like today.

Followers of such demagoguery don't get that it's almost never about rooting out some genuine evil but about political control of the followers themselves by charismatic demagogues.

The result of McCarthyism was not simply a handful of commies flushed out of their hiding places, but the ruining of thousands of people's lives through baseless character attacks and accusations.

It led to privacy invasions and spying on citizens. This practice has been revived over the past eight years.

It wrecked the rule of law which - it apparently needs constant reminding today - is at the very core of the foundational principles of the country.

It criminalized any political views on the left. It also apparently bears reminding that freedom of thought and speech are also foundational principles of American democracy. You might not like it. But a citizen is free to think about, talk about, and believe in ideas on the political left as well as wacky ideas like, oh, McCarthy being a bang-up guy.

troutsky said...

As the first comment ably demonstrates, the attack is on nuanced thought itself. "Commie spies justify the dismantling of civil rights". All tension between competing concepts ( the essence of democracy) must be banished. Welcome to my world.

Helmut is correct about control.This is simply a warning to all who would stray from the Patriotic fold."Trouble ahead, trouble behind"

Anonymous said...

Justifying left-wing or right-wing views isn't the point. If one speaks of increasingly violent demagoguery of late, one would be more inclined to think of SEIU operatives at a health care debate, rather than some right wing nut job. Another example would be the Bush-hating, Catholic-hating left winger who just flew his airplane into IRS headquarters.

That said, spying is an act of war. It is not a civilian crime. Foreign spies under international law may be executed. In practice, they usually aren't executed, because captured spy exchange is preferable--e.g., the Francis Gary Powers incident.

Yes, America has spies in foreign lands too. That does not mean that foreign spies operating in the US are entitled to civilian trials. The reasons for employing American citizens as spies--e.g., usually news reporters--was clearly to muddy the legal picture, just as it is with state-sponsored terrorism, which is also a war crime.

There is a significant difference between espousing ones private political beliefs publicly, and espousing a foreign government's political beliefs under the pretense of espousing ones own beliefs whilst in the pay of the said foreign government. There is also a significant difference between holding left wing points of view while in the employ of the US government, and holding left wing points of view while in the employ of the US government AND leaking sensitive information to foreign governments hostile to the US government.

This is the white wash that occurred against the anti-communists in America. The point was and is that McCarthy's charges weren't baseless. They simply weren't provable beyond a reasonable doubt in the context of a civilian trial.

There was a significant effort by the Soviet Union to infiltrate Hollywood and to make films critical of the US and of private businesses. How often do we see business executives portrayed in a positive light these days? They aren't all bad, so why the stereotyping? And why keep on using the term "McCarthyism" when it is clear that he did in fact have a basis for his charges, and they were well established by the publishing of KGB archives after the fall of the Soviet Union?

Cheryl Rofer said...

Even conservatives think Cheney's gone too far. There is this little matter of legal ethics that says a lawyer represents whoever asks for her help, with a very few exceptions.

MT said...

>And why keep on using the term "McCarthyism" when it is clear that he did in fact have a basis for his charges

Was he a vegetarian too?

Anonymous said...

First of all, Liz Cheney is not a congressman or Senator running a committee. She's a private citizen and she is entitled to express a political point of view. Her point was that these lawyers took on these cases pro bono. It wasn't just opposition to Bush policies, but rather providing financial aid to the defendants in the form of free legal defense. That suggests prejudice, although I don't necessarily agree with her statement. However, that doesn't mean she is Joseph McCarthy, and it doesn't mean Joseph McCarthy was wrong. He was proven right in the end.

Violent extremism these days is coming from the political left. Stack (IRS plane bombing) and Biddell (Pentagon attack) were registered Democrats that hated George Bush. The knee-jerk attempt to tie them to the political right doesn't bear out under the evidence.

Obama is being called on by members of his own administration to scrap civil trials--effectively overriding Holder. It was Holder's decision to withhold identities of Justice Department lawyers that gave rise to this incident. So much for the most transparent administration in American History.