The neverending witch hunts against Obama nominees

Blog ››› ››› ADAM SHAH

The conservative media's witch hunts against President Obama's nominees and appointees has recently focused on Justice Department lawyers who previously represented terror suspects, as well as judicial nominees Goodwin Liu and Robert Chatigny, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) nominee Robert Harding. The cases against all of these targets are falling apart.

On March 3, The Washington Times published an editorial misrepresenting Liu's record in order to call him a "radical." Sean Hannity also joined in the dishonest attack on Liu -- a law professor at Berkley and a nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since then, conservatives including Liu's colleague at Berkley, John Yoo, and the Goldwater Institute's Clint Bolick have vouched for Liu. Bolick wrote: "Having reviewed several of his academic writings, I find Prof. Liu to exhibit fresh, independent thinking and intellectual honesty. He clearly possesses the scholarly credentials and experience to serve with distinction on this important court." And according to the Los Angeles Times, Yoo -- the Bush administration lawyer who authored the infamous torture memos -- said of Liu's nomination: "[H]e's not someone a Republican president would pick, but for a Democratic nominee, he's a very good choice." Liu has also reportedly received the support of James Guthrie, education policy studies director at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas.

So much for the idea that Liu is a radical leftist.

Today, Fox News' Gretchen Carlson claimed that "some are concerned" that Chatigny -- a federal trial judge who Obama has nominated for elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit -- "may be biased in favor of sex offenders." Carlson's allegation was based on Chatigny's actions during the appeals of a death penalty case involving convicted serial killer and rapist Michael Ross. Chatigny strongly expressed concern that Ross' lawyer was not sufficiently investigating evidence regarding Ross' mental competency. Later, an ethics complaint was brought against Chatigny. But here's the important thing that Carlson left out: a panel of judges cleared him of charges and declared his actions "reasonable." And this wasn't a whitewash by a bunch of leftists; the panel included Michael Mukasey, who went on to become President Bush's attorney general. According to media reports, several legal experts have also defended Chatigny's actions in the case.

So much for the idea that Chatigny is "biased in favor of sex offenders."

The attack on Harding -- a retired Army general -- is unlikely to fare much better. As we've pointed out, in a March 8 article, WorldNetDaily wrote that Harding has "controversial" views on the need for diversity in the intelligence community. WND claimed that Harding "long has pushed for 'ethnic diversity' as a determining factor in hiring new teams for U.S. military and intelligence agencies." The article quoted November 2003 written testimony Harding gave to a Senate subcommittee stressing the need for diversity hiring in the intelligence community. But Harding's views are neither controversial nor unique. Indeed, President Bush's Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell said during a conference, "It is now our policy across this [intelligence] community that we do not screen out first generation Americans. The very people that we need in this community to speak the languages, understand the cultures, are the ones who have come to America from the distant shores." He later said, "[O]ur focus is to get a more diverse culture," and that "[w]e have got to have more diversity." Other intelligence officials have made similar statements.

So much for the idea that Harding has controversial views on diversity.

Which brings us to the ridiculous attacks on DOJ lawyers who once represented detainees: Fox News, Investor's Business Daily, and Washington Post columnists Bill Kristol and Marc Thiessen have all participated in the attacks. Several of the attackers have suggested that -- in the word of Fox contributor Monica Crowley -- the DOJ lawyers are "terrorist sympathizers." These attacks have not led to any firings, but they have resulted in condemnation from the media and from several prominent conservative lawyers as well as Mukasey. Indeed, even former independent counsel Ken Starr has slammed these attacks and compared the DOJ lawyers to John Adams and Atticus Finch.

When the attacks on the Obama administration officials lead Ken Starr to compare the targets of the attacks to Atticus Finch, it's time for the witch hunters to pack it in and go home.

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