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Michael Sean WintersMarch 08, 2010

They say that the fruit does not fall far from the tree. It took me a few days to actually watch the controversial ad run by a group, Keep America Safe, which was co-founded by Liz Cheney, former deputy assistant secretary for Near East Affairs and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Repulsive is the first work that comes to mind. It is one of the finest attributes of our civilization - the right to a lawyer - that is being attacked here. Where would our judicial system be without the application of this right? In fact, that is not an entirely rhetorical question because there was a time in our not so distant past when what claimed to be justice overlooked the right to legal representation or even a trail for that matter: Lynch mobs dispensed with the right to legal counsel. I do not anticipate seeing a photograph of Ms. Cheney in a white hood, but let’s be clear: She and Joe McCarthy would have spoken long in to the night.

I especially liked the reference to the "Al-Qaeda Seven" in the ad, a not very subtle, or very applicable, reference to the Chicago Seven, the group of protesters arrested at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. Of course, the Chicago Seven refers to the alleged perpetrators of the riots, not to their lawyers, but it is one of the hallmarks of these kinds of McCarthyite smears (whether they come from the right or the left) that such niceties are overlooked in the crafting of metaphors. Of course, Cheney and her group would do well to remember that two of the Chicago seven were acquitted and the convictions of the others were thrown out.

To be commended are those conservative, Republican leaders who have come out and denounced this outrageous attack. Such legal notables as Ken Starr, Larry Thompson and John Bellinger III are among the signatories of a letter that stated "We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications." They correctly cite one of the earliest, and foundational, examples of a patriot taking on a controversial client when John Adams, future second President of the United States, defended the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre. It will be curious to see which of our friends in the conservative Catholic blogosphere join Starr et al., in denouncing Cheney's vicious attacks.

Shame on Liz Cheney. Of course, we know where she got it. Her father treated American laws against torture cavalierly and presided over an administration that turned signing statements into an unconstitutional form of veto. Mr. Cheney will go down in history as one of the most sinister men to ever hold office in the United States and it appears his daughter wishes to join him in the annals of political shame.

Michael Sean Winters


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12 years 8 months ago
It is good to see some conservatives objecting to Ms. Cheney's position.  If you think of American politics as being a dialectic between liberals talking about what government can and should do for the common good and conservatives warning against the abuses or potential abuses of government, it really should be conservatives leading the criticism of Ms. Cheney.  Her position seems to assume that the government nevers makes a mistake and never abuses its authority in matters of criminal justice, and the whole notion of an infallible and always benevolent central government should be anathema to any conservative (and really to just about all liberals as well).
Jim McCrea
12 years 8 months ago
Liz Cheney seems to be caught in a kind a familial dysfunction to "protect the parent".
She must secretly think she is a Catholic bishop and is protecting the Good Name and Reputation of Holy Mother The Church.
Beth Cioffoletti
12 years 8 months ago
Our legal system is complex and a lot more powerful than any individual, which is why the Constitution guarantees the right to counsel.
Evidently the Cheneys have never personally known anyone accused of a serious crime without the means to pay for an attorney. 
I think that this kind of callous blindness comes with wealth and power, and is at the heart of why it is almost impossible for a wealthy man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  They are somehow totally insulated from the reality of injustice and oppression in the world.
Liz Cheney seems to be caught in a kind a familial dysfunction to "protect the parent".
It's ironic that Dick Cheney is now the one being accused of serious crimes, and he has plenty of well paid attorneys representing him.
Helena Loflin
12 years 8 months ago
Liz is just another conservative without a conscience.  It sure is scary that there's a segment of our society that cheers her on.  I wonder if Liz has a law degree and has been a practicing attorney.  If she does and has, then her comments make her even more of an embarrassment to herself.  Josephine McCarthy.  Sadly, I don't expect too many more conservatives, Catholic or otherwise, to join in on the condemnation of her unAmerican behavior.  Not too many conservatives are up to enduring Rush Limbuagh's wrath.  He shuts them up pretty quick. 

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