There's a Defense Department bill now before the Congress. It contains a provision authorizing the Pentagon's Inspector General to investigate the lawyers who have defended detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The bill would give power to the Pentagon to open investigations of the defense lawyers based on "reasonable suspicion." What exactly is that? "Suspicion" of what? The law would make any "reasonable suspicion" that a lawyer had generated what's called, "any material risk" to a member of the military -- or somehow violated the Inspector General's "exclusive jurisdiction" or "interfered with the operations" of the world's most secure lock-up, the US military prison facility at Guantanamo, subject to investigation. Can't you see the fear in the Marine's eyes that must have inspired this legislation? "Watch out guys, the lawyers are coming!"
Talk about overly broad and vague possibilities for prosecution - they can't get any broader, any more vague than these. The authorization to open unfocused, unlimited, unending, unbudgeted - not to mention unconstitutional - investigations of lawyers who defend clients held by the US government must be denied by our citizen Congress. If Congress grants the Pentagon this power, who is to say what other tentacles of government will seize it next? As Arizona has simply grabbed federal jurisdiction on immigration, which states will follow the Pentagon's new powers by investigating those who dare come into their state courts representing criminal defendants? Where does it end? You don't want to know.
When they began searching us at airports, frisking us, touching us in a way we would have found intolerable before, We The People did not stand up and say, "Stop! This is un-American." Whether or not it was necessary and effective never entered our minds. 9/11! 9/11!
When they tapped our telephones and hacked our computers, put microphones in our homes and cameras everywhere - all without warrants - We The People did not rise up and demand our constitutional rights be observed. We didn't even ask, "Why?" 9/11! 9/11!
When they arrested and detained people - without charges and with no end to detention - We The People failed to cry out, "Wait a minute. This is America. You can't do that here." Habeas corpus? Who knows what that is? Who gives a damn? 9/11! 9/11!
When our federal government decided to quite literally capture people, take them from their lives and families, suddenly and silently sending them to places most of us have never heard of, there to be tortured by methods most of us don't want to think about - We The People didn't make a sound. Not a peep. 9/11! 9/11!
When our new, "Change" administration openly authorized the murder of American citizens anywhere in the world, "labeling" them terrorists - with no trial - We The People said nothing. Murder? Sure. They're terrorists aren't they? 9/11! 9/11!
When a US Senator who nearly became our Vice President advocated stripping away an American's citizenship - without due process - because the senator thinks the citizen is a terrorist, We The People expressed no reservations. No, we don't even want to think about these things anymore. 9/11 was so long ago. We're tired.
So, now when they're coming for the last line of defense for the common man, the barricade standing between us and an outlaw government - the defense lawyers - is it any surprise that We The People are nowhere to be found? Where is the outrage when we're losing our freedom? Where are the freedom lovers - the Tea Party people - the leftists, the students? Anybody?
You don't lose freedom in a flashpoint. It doesn't disappear with a single cataclysmic event. Not even in a blitzkrieg, or with airplanes flying into the biggest buildings in your biggest city. You don't have freedom one day and see it vanish the next. The imposition of the Omnipotent State is a slow, steady affair, and when done with the greatest skill, almost unnoticeable. Worst of all, this march toward tyranny may even be welcomed by many eager to mistake it for safety and security.
Freedom in America is the history of brave, independent defense lawyers ready and willing to appear on the side of the individual, and when pitted against the enormous resources of the state, to wield in their defense the heavy weight of our Constitution. From John Adams' defense of the Boston Massacre defendants, before our republic, and Edmund Randolph representing Aaron Burr, to John Quincy Adams, William Foster and Clarence Darrow, through Samuel Liebowitz defending the Scottsboro Boys, and all the way to the modern legal celebrities like Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz, Barry Scheck and Gerry Spence, we have respected the separation between attorney and client, lawyer and defendant. No lawyer providing a defense for the accused has ever needed to fear for his own safety or liberty as a result of that defense.
That is -until now. That slow and steady encroachment approaches the tipping point.
When you've lost your freedom, you'll find your safety sorely gone with it. When you can no longer find a defense attorney, because there aren't any - for fear they too will be prosecuted - what defense will you have against the Omnipotent State? Should Congress pass this defense bill, as is, none of us may be free or safe.