Friday, May 1, 2009

Andrew McCarthy on Detainee Policy

Andrew McCarthy, one of the world's foremost experts on prosecuting jihadists, wrote a letter declining AG Holder's invitation to participate on a Task Force on Detention. His reasons are illuminating, not to say thrilling.

My dull title aside, I urge you to read the entire letter. It is the most intelligent, even heroic, writing I've read on the subject anywhere. The whole letter is worthwhile, but here's a snippet:
The invitation email (of April 14) indicates that the meeting is part of an ongoing effort to identify lawful policies on the detention and disposition of alien enemy combatants—or what the Department now calls “individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations.”

I admire the lawyers of the Counterterrorism Division, and I do not question their good faith. Nevertheless, it is quite clear—most recently, from your provocative remarks on Wednesday in Germany—that the Obama administration has already settled on a policy of releasing trained jihadists (including releasing some of them into the United States).

Whatever the good intentions of the organizers, the meeting will obviously be used by the administration to claim that its policy was arrived at in consultation with current and former government officials experienced in terrorism cases and national security issues. I deeply disagree with this policy, which I believe is a violation of federal law and a betrayal of the president’s first obligation to protect the American people. Under the circumstances, I think the better course is to register my dissent, rather than be used as a prop.

Moreover, in light of public statements by both you and the President, it is dismayingly clear that, under your leadership, the Justice Department takes the position that a lawyer who in good faith offers legal advice to government policy makers—like the government lawyers who offered good faith advice on interrogation policy—may be subject to investigation and prosecution for the content of that advice, in addition to empty but professionally damaging accusations of ethical misconduct. Given that stance, any prudent lawyer would have to hesitate before offering advice to the government.
It only gets better from there, but I'm always sensitive to copyright so I'll leave off quoting the rest.

No comments: