Rep. Peter King (R-NY recently announced the third in his series of hearings on the “radicalization of the Muslim-American community”—the GOP’s premier venue for demonstrating the kinds of attacks highlighted in PFAW’s latest Right Wing Watch: In Focus report “The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.” As part of his hearings, King plans to call Thomas Joscelyn of the staunchly neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies as a witness. Joscelyn, from his platform as a writer for the neoconservative Weekly Standard, has questioned the patriotism of organizations and individuals who spoke out against the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, calling the ACLU “Al Qaeda’s useful idiots” and claiming that lawyers who represented accused terrorists “openly opposed the American government.”
In a 2009 column, Joscelyn called the American Civil Liberties Union “Al Qaeda’s Civil Liberties Union” and “al Qaeda’s useful idiots” because the group produced the video “Justice Denied: Voices From Guantanamo,” which featured five Muslims who were imprisoned and abused in Guantanamo Bay and never faced charges. “The ACLU has worked diligently to undermine America's stance in what was formerly known as the ‘war on terror,’” he wrote, “and has even been willing to disseminate propaganda on behalf of our jihadist enemies.” He went on to criticize the ACLU and the Obama administration for opposing the use of military commissions and supporting the right of due process under the law for accused terrorists: “The ACLU cannot tell the difference between us and our enemies--as its own propaganda shows. Therefore, it does not bode well for America's counterterrorism efforts that the Obama administration is in agreement with al Qaeda's useful idiots.”
Joscelyn also jumped on the right-wing smear campaign against Justice Department lawyers who once represented accused terrorists, writing: “Now, we don’t know what assignments these lawyers have taken on inside government. But we do know that they openly opposed the American government for years, on behalf of al Qaeda terrorists, and their objections frequently went beyond rational, principled criticisms of detainee policy.”
Joscelyn also charged the Center for Constitutional Rights with “crude anti-Americanism” because the group condemned bias against Muslim Americans. He also questioned whether accused terrorists should receive any legal representation at all:
CCR’s statement calls to mind the debate some months ago about the role of lawyers in the war on terror. Some have argued that by representing “unpopular” clients they are merely adhering to a noble legal tradition in the same manner as John Adams, who defended British soldiers years prior to the Revolutionary War. Granted, some lawyers probably are compelled by their own notions of legal principle. But not all of them are.
John Adams sought to create a free society in which all faiths can be practiced and none are enforced by the state. He succeeded.
This nation’s second president probably would not appreciate CCR’s smear of the nation he helped found. And CCR is not just standing up for the “right” of a terrorist to receive a fair trial. The organization doubts whether John Adam’s America can be fair to Muslims at all.