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O'Reilly: No High Profile Conservatives Criticize Terrorist Defense Attorneys (Well, Except The High-Profile Conservatives Who Do)

Reported by Julie - March 13, 2010 -

It was vintage Bill O'Reilly on Wednesday night's (3/10/10) O'Reilly Factor, as he led off with, "Did the New York Times fabricate a story on page 1?" O'Reilly described the Times article as saying that conservatives are "deeply split" on the issue of Liz Cheney's Keep America Safe ("KOS") ad criticizing Department of Justice lawyers who either represented or -- as stated on KAS' website -- "advocated on behalf of, al Qaeda and Taliban members." Although O'Reilly agreed with some conservatives, including Ken Starr and the Federalist Society, that there's nothing wrong with an attorney defending jihadists, he also claimed, "We can find no high profile conservative who has criticized attorneys for the job of defending incarcerated terrorists . . . ." None, huh? Oh, you mean besides the high-profile conservatives who criticize attorneys for the job of defending incarcerated terrorists? Look no further than, well, Keep America Safe, and those who back them. Don't they count? This sounds suspiciously like the right's contention that Bush and Cheney kept us safe for eight years because, hey, we didn't have one attack post-9/11. With video.

As arguments go . . . well, if you're looking for logic twisted into knots, look no further than this Talking Points Memo. O'Reilly claimed that there's really no controversy, and that 90% on the right "support attorneys for jihadists." Despite my efforts, I could find no polling numbers that supported this 90% number. But that's not really the point, is it? O'Reilly contends (or, rather, asks in the form of the Cavuto Mark) that the New York Times fabricated a story because it said that conservatives are split on the issue of whether to castigate or defend Liz Cheney and Keep America Safe's attack ad.

I think we have to look no further than the Keeping America Safe gatekeepers to poke holes in O'Reilly's theory that "no high profile conservatives" are criticizing supposed terrorist-loving lawyers. I think Bill Kristol, one of the founders of KOS, would be considered high profile -- and he's also a regular contributor on Fox News. Surely Liz Cheney herself -- who has been featured numerous times on Fox, and gleefully accuses our President of being some form of terrorist-lover -- would be considered high-profile. Debra Burlingame has made herself high-profile and is a player at KOS-- and I've seen no evidence that she objects to the term "Department of Jihad," as depicted in the KOS ad.

High profile constitutional attorney and broadcaster Mark Levin stands shoulder to shoulder with KOS, writing, "You have people in the position of defending this nation at the highest levels of the Justice Department who have represented the enemy, and their belief systems have clearly affected national security policy. … And in some cases, these lawyers were not just representing clients, they went out and found them, sought them out. They considered them some of the most important cases they ever had. 'Due process rights for the enemy? Absolutely. Civilian justice for the enemy? Absolutely.' Now they’re in government making the same exact decisions except they are setting policy… I side with Liz Cheney and Debra Burlingame and Keep America Safe.” Sounds like a criticism of terrorist-defending attorneys to me.

And Hans Von Spakovsky, a former counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Bush administration, also gave Cheney a thumbs up. “I don’t think it is unfair or somehow improper to criticize those lawyers who have volunteered to help the enemies of the United States who are dedicated to killing as many innocent Americans as possible and destroying our country . . . I certainly don’t think those same lawyers should be in the Justice Department directing policy and making decisions on prosecutions of those same terrorists. Um, criticism? Ya think?

O'Reilly also made the careful claim (careful in that he used the term "journalist," a loose term at Fox in any event) that, ". . . Certainly no journalist working at Fox News has done that [criticized attorneys who defend terrorists]." Well, you might not call her a journalist, exactly, but Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin did post a little "thank you" article on Keep America Safe's website, which applauded KAS' for "taking the flak, keeping watch and keeping America informed."

O'Reilly also did a preemptive strike, admitting that Monica Crowley had said that some lawyers hired by the Justice Department may sympathize with the terrorists, and that conservative Andrew McCarthy had said that progressive lawyers are drawn to the "jihadist cause" because of common views about "the need to condemn American policies and radically alter the United States." Accusing American attorneys of sympathizing with terrorists and being un-American isn't criticism?

Interesting -- from O'Reilly's statement that there are "no high profile" conservatives who criticized the lawyers for defending terrorists he had a couple of names at the ready who had done just that or, at the minimum, had lodged a character attack -- not counting the KOS gang.

Despite O'Reilly's stated position that he has no problem with attorneys defending terrorists, and despite the little clip he played of his interview with Liz Cheney where he seemingly defended the terrorists' lawyers as simply having "expertise" in this area, O'Reilly trumpeted that what the NY Times doesn't understand is that "there are legitimate questions about why Attorney General Holder hired nine lawyers who were involved with terror suspects." Unless the nine lawyers smuggled bombs and planes in to these prisoners, there are really no legitimate questions at all -- it is, in fact, the beauty of the American justice system that criminals get lawyers. And, I might add, as we've all see in the lawyer shows, the better the defense attorneys are in the first go-around, the less ammo the defendants will have to later launch a viable appeal on the whole "ineffectiveness of counsel" point.

"So," O'Reilly concluded, "The page 1 story was bogus -- it's not about a controversy among conservatives, it's about who Mr. Holder hired and why . . . Holder should tell us. And that's what the New York Times should be concerned about rather than creating a phony story to denigrate people with whom they disagree."

Well, I'll give him one thing -- O'Reilly knows from phony stories, the mission against ACORN being a case in point. But O'Reilly apparently sees no irony in the fact that he himself is creating a phony story that the NY Times is creating a phony story to denigrate people with whom they disagree because he is trying to denigrate people with whom he disagrees. Whew. Life is complicated when you watch Bill-O.