James Taranto takes note of the controversy surrounding the large number of terrorist defense counsel appointed to handle such cases at Holder's Department of Justice. Liz Cheney uncovered 7 such appointments and has been roundly attacked for suggesting there's something wrong with this.
He observes that the large number is disconcerting and, moreover, that Cheney's critics, notably the New York Times, employed a different test during the past administration:
Having represented detainees while in private practice should not disqualify a lawyer from working for the Justice Department, any more than a criminal defense lawyer should be barred from working as a prosecutor. But although we don't care for the tone of the Keep America Safe ad, its call for transparency is entirely defensible. Surely the public has a right to know the records of the lawyers who are supposed to be its servants.
The Times argues that lawyers who "take on controversial cases" should not be "demonized with impunity." No one can reasonably disagree. But the Times is guilty of rank hypocrisy, for it has a record of engaging in just such demonization. In an editorial last May, the paper endorsed a politically motivated witch hunt against three former Bush administration lawyers who wrote memos setting forth limits on the interrogation of terrorists--limits that, in the Times's opinion, were insufficiently gentle:
Their acts were a grotesque abrogation of duty and breach of faith: as government officials sworn to protect the Constitution; as lawyers bound to render competent and honest legal opinions; and as citizens who played a major role in events that disgraced this country.
Not only did the Times demonize John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury; it called for their disbarment and for Bybee's impeachment (he is now a judge on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals). And these lawyers were employed to defend America, not its enemies.