Over at TAPPED, Adam Serwer has a brief item up on Attorney General Eric Holder standing firm against the smears leveled against several Department of Justice lawyers who have, in the past, provided legal representation to detainees suspected of terrorism. The questions on that matter were put to him by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who, in a parting shot, echoed the Washington Post's in-house Dick Cheney PR representative:
Grassley appeared to back down from his request but added one parting shot direct from the mouth of newly minted Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen: "I doubt that you would do the same with lawyers who represent the mafia, and I doubt you would allow them to represent the Justice Department," Grassley said but didn't press the matter further.
Grassley essentially lifts directly from the opening paragraph of Thiessen's March 8 column, and indulges in the same misconception. So far as I know, no members of the Mafia have ever had their habeas rights challenged or were subject to unlawful detention. Additionally, al Qaeda has not hired these lawyers or put them on retainer, so it's not the same thing as being a "Mafia lawyer" at all, I'm afraid.
There's also the thorny issue of what you call a lawyer who represents someone who is innocent of the charges. When I put that question to one such attorney, Brent Mickum, back in March, he said, "What do you say to the attorneys whose clients were found innocent? Are they still al Qaeda lawyers? For every KSM, there are scores of other prisoners against whom there is no evidence of terrorism. If there is no evidence against them, why should we be maligned for trying to vindicate these people and return them to their families?"
I have little doubt that these sorts of distinctions are well beyond the grasp of Chuck Grassley.