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I might get fired as a blogger for citing Keith Olbermann but Kenneth Starr, former Whitewater special counsel, federal judge, and dean of the conservative Pepperdine School of Law (and ought to have been Justice Starr) adds his weight to the criticism of the Lynn Cheney/Bill Kristol “Al-Qaeda 7”.   Several conservative lawyers spoke out.  I agree. 


As attorneys, former officials and policy specialists who have worked on detention issues, we consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications.

To delegitimize the role detainee counsel play is to demand adjudications and policymaking stripped of a full record. Whatever systems America develops to handle difficult detention questions will rely, at least some of the time, on an aggressive defense bar; those who take up that function do a service to the system.

It also had support from other Bush era and conservative lawyers:

The Bush officials clashed repeatedly with some of the detainee lawyers, such as the current deputy Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, whom they are now defending. The signers include former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, John Ashcroft’s No. 2, and Peter Keisler, who served as acting attorney general during President Bush’s second term. They also include several lawyers who dealt directly with detainee policy: Matthew Waxman and Charles “Cully” Stimson, who each served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs; Daniel Dell’Orto, who was acting general counsel for the Department of Defense; and Bradford Berenson, a prominent Washington lawyer who worked on the issues as an associate White House counsel during President Bush’s first term. 

*  *  *

The letter’s other signatories include Philip Zelikow and John Bellinger III, who were top advisers to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, .

Also signing were David Rivkin and Lee Casey, officials in the Justice Department in the first George W. Bush administration. Rivkin and Casey ‘s participation underscores the depth of discomfort with the attacks, as they have been among the most vocal defenders of Bush Administration detainee practices. Last April, for example, they wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the controversial Department of Justice memos widely viewed as justifying harsh treatment in fact “detail the actual techniques used and many measures taken to ensure that interrogations did not cause severe pain or degradation.”

Separately, former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson rose to the defense of lawyers representing detainees. He noted, however, that some of those now defending current Justice Department lawyers were “completely silent” in the face of “vicious attacks” on Bush administration lawyers handling terrorism issues.

I have contended at my other blog, Conflicted Libertarian ( that thise sort of demagogy is bad politics.  We must be careful in denying rights to anyone lest we as conservatives, or as followers of Christ, or as libertarians, or in criticizing the government receive similar treatment. 

Here it is!  The Starr video.

Thank you Dean Starr for ALL your service to your country!

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)


  1. Tom White says:

    I suppose that Liz is looking at a little “What’s fair for the goose” on this. Democrats attacked Bush operatives, and this is a shot across the bow that it is a two way street.

    Hopefully, this tactic will make a difference for the US Intelligence community by sending a message that witch hunts in this area are never a good thing.

    If it does send a message that two can play this game, and this stuff stops for good, I say good result from an unfortunate tactic.

    If the Obama Administration retaliates, and starts a war with our Intelligence, I would hope Liz (and her Dad) will let it go.

    Would M.A.D. have worked without actually using a bomb?

    And as for getting “fired” for your opinion, NO WAY! You are free to express your opinion on anything without regard to my opinion, always!

    While the left will never understand this, preferring to think us “right wingers” are all in lock step, it is not uncommon for fellow Conservative Christians to have two different opinions. Maybe even three!

    It makes things more interesting.

    Good post!


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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