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Conservative author: Liz Cheney ‘worse than Joe McCarthy’

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, March 5, 2010 13:33 EDT
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Liz Cheney is used to drawing the ire of liberals, but her latest attack campaign against the Obama administration has conservatives likening her to one of the most notorious political villains in the last century.

Cheney’s political advocacy group “Keep America Safe” this week launched an ad suggesting that a number of Justice Department officials are terrorist sympathizers for having represented detainees against illegal treatment by the Bush’s administration. The spot labels them the “Al-Qaeda 7.”

The Huffington Post‘s Sam Stein spoke to attorney and author Paul Mirengoff, a fellow at the conservative Claremont Institute, who today blogged that the attack was “vicious” and “unfounded.”

Reached on the phone, Mirengoff offered an even sharper rebuke, comparing Cheney to former Sen. Joseph McCarthy and saying that her comments were potentially worse than his notorious anti-communist crusades.

“It could be worse than some of the assertions made by McCarthy, depending on some of the validity of those assertions,” Mirengoff said, explaining that at least McCarthy was correct in pinpointing individuals as communist sympathizers. “It is just baseless to suggest that [these DoJ officials] share al Qaeda values… they didn’t actually say it but I think it was a fair implication of what they were saying.”

Also strongly denouncing Cheney’s ad was former legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, John Bellinger III, who called it an “unfortunate” partisan move.

“It reflects the politicization and the polarization of terrorism issues,” Bellinger told The American Prospect‘s Adam Serwer. “Neither Republicans nor Democrats should be attacking officials in each other’s administrations based solely on the clients they have represented in the past.”

The comparison to McCarthy, a former Republican senator who led a series of witch hunts against members of Congress for allegedly being closet sympathizers of Soviet communism, has not been lost on several journalists.

Serwer called the former vice president’s daughter’s endeavor “The New McCarthyism” in a commentary discussing how she and other “conservatives are portraying [the lawyers] as agents of the enemy.”

Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald, a former civil rights litigator, blasted Cheney and the group’s co-founder Bill Kristol as “real, live, contemporary McCarthyites” in a series of blog posts fiercely denouncing the ad.

Stein adds in the Huffington Post:

Cheney, for her part, shows no signs of relenting. Hours after her organization was able to browbeat the DoJ into releasing the names of the seven officials who previously represented detainees, it put out a statement demanding even more disclosure.

“We regret that they still refuse to tell the American people whether any of these lawyers are currently working on detainee issues inside the Department,” said Aaron Harison, the executive director of Keep America Safe. “The American people have a right to know whether lawyers who voluntarily flocked to Guantanamo to take up the cause of the terrorists are currently working on detainee issues in President Obama’s Justice Department.”

The National Review‘s Andy McCarthy has echoed the sentiments of the ad, claiming that “terrorist sympathizers, meanwhile, have assumed positions throughout the Obama administration.”

Cheney, for her part, shows no signs of relenting. Hours after her organization was able to browbeat the DoJ into releasing the names of the seven officials who previously represented detainees, it put out a statement demanding even more disclosure.

“We regret that they still refuse to tell the American people whether any of these lawyers are currently working on detainee issues inside the Department,” said Aaron Harison, the executive director of Keep America Safe. “The American people have a right to know whether lawyers who voluntarily flocked to Guantanamo to take up the cause of the terrorists are currently working on detainee issues in President Obama’s Justice Department.”

 
 
 
 
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