More McCarthyism From Liz Cheney’s Crew

March 15, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

After being repudiated by pillars of the GOP legal establishment over a video that calls Justice Department lawyers who represented Guantanamo detainees “the al-Qaeda Seven,” you might think Liz Cheney’s group Keep America Safe would back away from its gutter McCarthyism. But then you don’t know Liz.

Today’s installment comes from Keep America Safe board member Debra Burlingame, who co-authors the following Wall Street Journal op-ed:

On the evening of Jan. 26, 2006, military guards at Guantanamo Bay made an alarming discovery during a routine cell check. Lying on the bed of a Saudi detainee was an 18-page color brochure. The cover consisted of the now famous photograph of newly-arrived detainees dressed in orange jumpsuits—masked, bound and kneeling on the ground at Camp X-Ray—just four months after 9/11. Written entirely in Arabic, it also included pictures of what appeared to be detainee operations in Iraq. Major General Jay W. Hood, then the commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, concurred with the guards that this represented a serious breach of security.

Maj. Gen. Hood asked his Islamic cultural adviser to translate. The cover read: “Cruel. Inhuman. Degrades Us All: Stop Torture and Ill-Treatment in the ‘War on Terror.’” It was published by Amnesty International in the United Kingdom and portrayed America and its allies as waging a campaign of torture against Muslims around the globe.

Nefarious, right? More vile pro-jihadist propaganda! “Why,” Burlingame asks, “would American lawyers, after 9/11 and the brutal slaughter of 3,000 fellow citizens, hand members of al Qaeda information about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan?” Translation: Who do those lawyers really sympathize with??? You can be forgiven for thinking Amnesty’s pamphlet contains sensitive information.

Actually, you can read the English version of the pamphlet here, and what you’ll see is that it compiles documented accounts of torture by U.S. personnel. Contrary to Burlingame’s intimation, there is absolutely nothing in the pamphlet about U.S. war planning or operations. There is a lot of information about what has been done to detainees in the war on terrorism — something for which Burlingame has no condemnation. She goes on to object to aggressive habeas lawyering by Guantanamo attorneys, a practice upheld by the Rehnquist and Roberts Supreme Court every time over the past decade the Court has been asked to consider habeas cases. For this, Keep America Safe wants you to believe there is something wrong and that those who represent these detainees wish to destroy America through the insidious practice of affirming its most fundamental principles of justice.

This is a sampling of what Amnesty’s pamphlet contains:

Whipping up public fears in the interests of short-term political gains is a dangerous business. If governments abandon the rule of law and use methods of terror such as torture or ill-treatment, then won’t groups fighting governments feel justified using methods of terror themselves? If whole communities are antagonized and alienated by security forces using terror, aren’t those communities more likely to respond by supporting the use of violence? Millions of people around the world believe that the “war on terror” is a war on Muslims, despite repeated denials by the US administration. These denials are undermined whenever it emerges that Muslim prisoners have been degraded and humiliated. In communities around the world, news of such abuses politicizes the uncommitted and reinforces hostility to those leading the “war on terror”.

Yes, Amnesty sure hates America. It has the temerity to point out why Keep America Safe will keep it both less safe and less free.