Buried in the depths of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2011 (H.R. 5136) is the latest salvo in the war on lawyers. In particular, section 1037 of the Act [page 403 of the PDF], titled "Inspector General Investigation of the Conduct and Practices of Lawyers Representing Individuals Detained at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," instructs the Department of Defense IG to "conduct an investigation of the conduct and practices of lawyers" who represent clients at Guantánamo and report back to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees within 90 days.
So who is getting the warm visage of Big Brother looking over their shoulder?
As set forth in the bill, the lawyers subject to such an investigation are military or civilian lawyers for whom there is “reasonable suspicion” to believe that they have:
(A) interfered with the operations of the Department of Defense at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, relating to [non-citizens detained at Guantánamo];
(B) violated any applicable policy of the Department;
(C) violated any law within the exclusive investigative jurisdiction of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense; or
(D) generated any material risk to a member of the Armed Forces of the United States
Keep in mind that on Planet Wingnut, everyone who so much looks at a suspected terrorist without torturing them is guilty of (D).
I have little to say that Vladeck and Greenwald haven't said already. This provision hasn't become law yet, but according to Greenwald it has made it out of committee unanimously. It wasn't Democrats who came up with the idea - that's the fault of Pensacola, FL Rep. Jeff Miller (R), who in proposing the idea is really doing his best to sound like Joe McCarthy. But Democrats are too chickenshit to stop it from becoming law, and Obama's not going to veto a defense appropriations bill, so our only hope is that it gets quietly euthanized in the Senate or in conference. I give it a 60/40 chance of becoming law, and if it does, it's another nail in the coffin of my association with the Democratic Party. If we can't stop odious provisions like this from becoming law, what the hell's the point of putting Democrats in power?
I furthermore want to point out that this comes on the heels of conservative efforts to force textbooks to include the notion that Joe McCarthy was vindicated by the Venona cables. The article I linked describes why that idea is poisonous, and I won't go into further detail here. But the revival of McCarthyism in conservative history parallels the revival of McCarthyism in real life. On top of Miller's disgusting call for investigations, there's a long-form rant being taken seriously in some conservative circles (Limbaugh and Malkin have both praised it) that implies that liberals are guilty of treason. Sane conservative Conor Friersdorf rips it to pieces here.
Friersdorf cites Limbaugh's endorsement of the book as saying "Our freedom is under assault as never before." Yeah, from you assholes. You and your conservative comrades are accusing whole chunks of Americans of treason and suggesting bringing investigations upon any lawyers who challenge your favored policies. I'm sorry, that disqualifies you from invoking "freedom" in any argument you make.
Oh, and the writer that's leading the "TREASON!" charge? Andy McCarthy. Same as it ever was, indeed.