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Raise Your Hand

Some vintage Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band from 1978 — Raise Your Hand.

Morning kudos go out to some folks at the DOJ who are standing up for the rule of law and integrity:

The government’s legal arguments justifying the detention of hundreds of people at the Guantánamo Bay naval base have been repudiated three times by the U.S. Supreme Court. But it’s not just outsiders who take issue with the U.S. Justice Department strategy: Up to one fourth of the department’s own civil appellate staff has recently opted out of handling the government’s cases against detainee appeals, two sources familiar with the matter tell U.S. News.

These conscientious objectors—their exact number is not known—have decided not to take part in the government’s litigation against the detainees because of disagreements with the legal approach, these sources say. They would not elaborate on the specific reasons for the objections, but critics have long objected to the government’s failure to formally charge detainees and have pushed for closing Guantánamo because of allegations of torture and inhumane conditions. Defense lawyers also contend that the government has stymied their cases by withholding documents and curbing client access.

The quiet rebellion has emerged in recent months among the approximately 56 attorneys in the appellate section of the Justice Department’s civil division following a court ruling in February that placed the defense of the approximately 130 remaining Guantánamo cases under the responsibility of the appellate lawyers. More than 300 men captured shortly after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 are still being held at Guantánamo over alleged ties to terrorists, although all but a handful have never been formally charged with crimes….

This is not the first time that I’ve heard about individual dissents among career employees within the DOJ and other agencies (most notably the scientific/medical agencies — see here for the most recent example of infuriating politicization, this time against breastfeeding).  This is the first I’ve seen of a mass expression of disgust within the civil appellate division, currently led by former Bork clerk and Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit bench nominee Peter Keisler.  And this is the first that I’ve heard about since the Comey-Mueller and crew threatened mass resignation over domestic surveillance without warrants came to public light.

Oh, those pesky career attorneys at the DOJ — still taking their oaths to uphold the Constitution seriously. 

It is very simple, really:  uphold the rule of law or face the consequences when you do not.  Just like every other American — neither the President nor his staff are above the law.  Why the Bush Administration keeps trying to cut corners around the law and built-in provisions for oversight raises all sorts of questions on what exactly they are doing.  And just how far they are willing to go to make certain we never find out. 

The US government has worked for years to strengthen a system of international laws which enforce human rights precepts that we have had to fight to codify — to help strengthen nascent democracy movements and also as protective measures for citizens caught in legal turmoil in those nations for fighting for individual freedoms and a just rule of law.  The Bush Administration has thrown all of that history and ethical standing into the dumpster with their systematic step backward to state-sanctioned torture and disregard for individual liberties and the rule of law.  Centuries of western jurisprudence were thrown aside in favor of a unilateral executive who crowned himself king of all he surveyed…and the laws be damned. 

Those who laid down their lives while fighting the tyranny of the monarchy in favor of civil liberties and justice for all are watching us in horror.  The time for accountability is now.  I stand for liberty.  What say you?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com