Kristol Wiggling Out of Liz Cheney’s Mess?

Photo courtesy New York Times

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Now that Liz Cheney is being slammed by her fellow Republicans and conservatives—Ken Starr, Ted Olson, John Bellinger III, and more—for having mounted a vicious attack on lawyers who performed pro bono work for suspected terrorist detainees, Bill Kristol, her partner-in-slime, is trying to wiggle his way out of the controversy.

Kristol, the neocon godfather, is one of three board members of Keep America Safe, the group that released an ad decrying these lawyers and questioning their loyalty to the United States. That ad triggered a firestorm of criticism, and most of the incoming fire was directed at Liz Cheney, the outfit’s chairperson. But on Countdown on Friday night, I noted that Kristol also ought to be held accountable for this Cheneyesque crusade. And on Sunday afternoon he took the time to write a post for his Weekly Standard in which he derided the notion that the ad was an attack. He suggested that the spot merely had raised the issue of “whether Congress and the public are simply entitled to know who these lawyers are, and the question of whether former pro bono lawyers for terrorists should be working on detainee policy for the Justice Department.”

This is too disingenuous and dumb to be effective spin. The spot—shot in the ominous style of a scare-’em ad—refers to the Justice Department as the “Department of Jihad.” And as a ghostly image of Osama bin Laden moves behind silhouettes of these lawyers, the narrator asks, “Whose values do they share?”

It isn’t subtle. Keep America Safe is not in this for the sake of  transparency. The group was angling to kick-start a witch hunt. And that’s why so many former Republican officials have been willing to go on record criticizing—some using sharp terms—the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney. Liz Cheney obviously miscalculated, and the ever-savvy Kristol is looking for cover. But his case—just like the WMD argument he made for war in Iraq in 2002 and 2003—is not supported by the facts. He’s stuck with Liz Cheney in a very-disclosed and very-exposed location.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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