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A Telling Slip on Detainees

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"A Telling Slip on Detainees"

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Cesar Conda at NRO tries to stand up for the Cheney/Kristol attack on DOJ lawyers that even the most conservative attorneys around have denounced. His tactic, an epic hair-splitting gambit:

The Supreme Court found that they have a right to bring habeas challenges to their detention. That does not confer a right to representation, and in fact, the vast majority of criminals who bring habeas challenges do so without counsel. The John Adams analogy that Ken Starr and the other lawyers cite in their statement is ludicrous: At the time of the Boston Massacre we were not at war and the British soldiers he defended were in court facing a criminal charge of murder. Adams was not representing prisoners of war, enemies of the nation, trying to get them released in the middle of a war. And Adams wasn’t embarrassed about what he did — if what the terrorists’ lawyers did was so noble, why is the DOJ refusing to tell us what they work on now?

I’m just going to roll my eyes at this. Any analogy can be nitpicked. Congratulations. Realistically, the demagogic nationalists of the time attacked Adams just as today demagogic nationalists at NRO and Keep America Safe are attacking the DOJ lawyers.

Note, though, that in his item Conda appears to imply that al-Qaeda detainees should be treated as prisoners of war! Of course the one point of consensus between liberals and conservatives on this issue is that terrorism suspects aren’t warriors and shouldn’t be treated as prisoners of war. But because liberals believe in the rule of law, we want to treat them like criminals. Conservatives have dreamed up some kind of hazy legal status so absurd that their own writers can’t even remember what it is from day to day, so they accidentally slip-up and wind up referring to them as prisoners of war.

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