A group of "leading conservative lawyers" -- a phrase never confused with "U.S. Marines" -- has produced an embarrassingly pompous letter denouncing Liz Cheney for demanding the names of attorneys at the Justice Department who formerly represented Guantanamo detainees.
The letter calls Cheney's demand "shameful," before unleashing this steaming pile of idiocy:
"The American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients is at least as old as John Adams' representation of the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre."
Yes, but even John Adams didn't take a job with the government for another 19 years after defending the British guards -- who, in 1770, were "the police." He also didn't take a position with the U.S. government that involved processing British murder suspects.
I'd be more interested in hearing about the sacred duty of lawyers to defend "unpopular clients" if we were talking about clients who are unpopular with anyone lawyers know.
Every white shoe law firm in the country has been clamoring to take the cases of Guantanamo detainees, while young associates line up to be put on the case. This is even more fun than defending Ted Bundy!
As The Wall Street Journal put it in a 2007 article, a list of the law firms representing Guantanamo detainees "reads like a who's who of America's most prestigious law firms" -- which conveniently doubles as Santa's "naughty" list.
The terrorists' lawyers have included Shearman and Sterling, Arnold & Porter; Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr; Covington & Burling; Hunton & Williams; Sullivan & Cromwell; Debevoise & Plimpton; King & Spalding; Cleary Gottlieb, Morrison & Foerster; Jenner & Block; O'Melveny & Myers and Sidley Austin.
At least 34 of the 50 largest firms in the United States have performed pro bono work on behalf of Guantanamo detainees.
Years ago, when I nearly died of boredom working for a law firm, I heard whispered rumors about a partner, Michael Tierney, whom none of the female associates wanted to work with because his pro bono work included defending -- gasp! -- pro-life groups. (There was at least one female associate who wanted to work with him!)
I didn't hear a peep about the august "American tradition of zealous representation of unpopular clients" back then.
Like Hollywood actresses, lawyers need to believe they're noble and courageous to help them forget that they are corporate drones doing soul-destroying work, which mostly consists of making photocopies.