In a great post at NRO, Andy McCarthy corrects Lindsey Graham.
“I've been a military lawyer for almost 30 years, I represented people as a defense attorney in the military that were charged with some pretty horrific acts, and I gave them my all[.]... This system of justice that we're so proud of in America requires the unpopular to have an advocate and every time a defense lawyer fights to make the government do their job, that defense lawyer has made us all safer.”
“This is specious. 'The unpopular' are not 'required' to have 'an advocate' if (a) "the unpopular' include war prisoners seeking to challenge their status as enemy combatants (or unprivileged belligerents) and (b) by 'advocate,' Graham means a lawyer. In fact, Sen. Graham was a sponsor of the Military Commissions Act which not only endorsed a system that did not provide counsel for detainees but further (and quite properly) sought to deny those detainees access to the federal district courts.”
Being a military lawyer assigned to defend a particular serviceman, or to defend a particular terrorist detained before a military commission, is distinguishable from volunteering pro bono on behalf of yourself and your law firm on behalf of a terrorist detainee. McCarthy also considers just how wonderful for our nation those pro bono lawyers for al Qaeda terrorists are, and he finds a strong witness against them: Lindsey Graham.
Here’s Graham in the Senate debate over the Military Commissions Act:
If I could add one thing on this point: perhaps the best evidence that the current Rasul system undermines effective interrogation is that even the detainees’ lawyers are bragging about their lawsuits’ having that effect. Michael Ratner, a lawyer who has filed lawsuits on behalf of numerous enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay, boasted in a recent magazine interview about how he has made it harder for the military to do its job. He particularly emphasized that the litigation interferes with interrogation of enemy combatants:
"The litigation is brutal [for the United States]. We have over one hundred lawyers now from big and small firms working to represent these detainees. Every time an attorney goes down there, it makes it that much harder [for the U.S. military] to do what they’re doing. You can’t run an interrogation … with attorneys. What are they going to do now that we’re getting court orders to get more lawyers down there?"
So it seems like Lindsey Graham in 2006 would disagree with Lindsey Graham's assessment in 2010 that these defense lawyers really “made us all safer.” Leaving aside the broader question of whether representing terror detainees is generally admirable, the fact is (as noted here many times before) that some of the pro bono terrorist lawyers have behaved badly; some of these lawyers and their organizations have trashed the military and the CIA and the U.S. government, going well beyond merely providing full and fair representation for their clients. That’s one reason why it was important to know who the terrorists' lawyers now at the Justice Department are, and what they’re working on. Which Eric Holder was refusing to tell the American people.