by Satyam Khanna
A few months ago, the Cheneyites, led by Liz Cheney, released a notorious “Al Qaeda 7” ad questioning the loyalty of administration lawyers who previously represented Guantanamo detainees. The ad was so vile that it was condemned across the board by conservatives and former Bush officials; after the near-unanimous criticism, I think everyone thought the issue had died.
Apparently not. Steve Vladeck reports that buried on Section 1037 of the Defense Authorization Act is a provision titled “Inspector General Investigation of the Conduct and Practices of Lawyers Representing Individuals Detained at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba”:
As set forth in the bill, the lawyers subject to such an investigation are military or civilian lawyers for whom there is “reasonable suspicion” to believe that they have:
(A) interfered with the operations of the Department of Defense at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, relating to [non-citizens detained at Guantánamo];
(B) violated any applicable policy of the Department;
(C) violated any law within the exclusive investigative jurisdiction of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense; or
(D) generated any material risk to a member of the Armed Forces of the United States
Vladeck notes how far reaching the “reasonable suspicion” standard (also used in the Arizona immigration bill) and the individual bullet points are, since any lawyer could be said to be “interfering” with the Gitmo or putting troops at risk by simply conducting an investigation.
The DOD budget bill is a pretty huge document; so I would hope this was furtively slipped in by some GOP staffer, to be removed shortly. But if not, it is seriously disturbing. The lawyers who most famously represented Gitmo detainees include administration officials like Neal Katyal and Jennifer Daskal. But so have dozens of military officers that we don’t hear about in the news regularly but are still fighting the same constitutional battles. So the DOD is potentially launching an investigation into its own officers for doing their jobs: being zealous advocates for their clients.
The McCarthy-ite attacks from Cheney and her cabal were vile and disingenuous. Now, it’s apparently being debated by Congress. I’m not sure how much closer to a real witch hunt we could get.