Sunday, May 10, 2009

When Gingrich Attacks! Does Newt Gingrich Hate the Rule of Law?

As a few of you longtime readers may have noticed, we have a special section called "When Conservatives Attack!" whenever we get attacked by a right wing blog or pundit. Now, I don't think Newt Gingrich will ever be mentioning us -- probably because he couldn't beat us in a debate! (hehe) -- but I thought I'd start this new "When Gingrich Attacks!" series to point out when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) ever says anything really outrageous in the media. Which will be about all the time, because as I've pointed out before, he's probably doing all of this pandering to the far right because he's setting himself up to run for the Presidency.

I figure if he continues to spew lies on the TV channels for four years, we might as well take the opportunity to debunk them.

Gingrich appeared Sunday on FOX News. This is what he told Chris Wallace about President Obama and Attorney General Holder's position on detainee rights:

GINGRICH: But you look at -- when you look at the Obama administration, the number of attorneys they have appointed who were defending alleged terrorists -- I mean, there’s this weird pattern where the Bush people wanted to defend Americans and were pretty tough on terrorists.

These guys are prepared to take huge risks with Americans in order to defend terrorists. And you look at who...

WALLACE: Who is defending terrorists?

GINGRICH: Oh, I think -- well, Holder’s firm has 17 alleged terrorists that they’re representing on a pro bono basis, for no fee. It’s the largest single thing they were doing for free -- was defending Yemenis.

I think there are five different attorneys in the -- in the Justice Department appointed by Obama who had direct -- their firms were defending alleged terrorists.

First of all, Gingrich can't seem to make up his mind on whether attorneys are defending "terrorists" or "alleged terrorists." Believe it or not, there's a huge difference between those labels, and Gingrich uses them interchangeably as if they don't matter. If he wants to lecture us about the law, he really ought to know the difference.

Later in the interview, he goes even further:

GINGRICH: This is nuts. I mean, this is just crazy. These are -- these are not American nationals. We have no obligation to keep them here. They ought to go home. Now, are their home countries saying, “I won’t take my own citizen?”

The idea we’re going to put alleged terrorists on welfare and have you pay for them and me pay for them, so they get to be integrated into American society -- remember, all these people were brought in on the grounds that they were trained in terrorist camps.

On "welfare"? So now being imprisoned is equivalent to being taken care of by the social safety net? I know Newt has a history of taking aim at the poor and disabled, cutting their social programs while lavishing his own district with federal cash, but at least when he was ranting then about welfare, he was just being a hypocrite. Now, he just doesn't make any sense.

It seems like the thrust of his point is that people in the justice system just don't deserve a defense. They don't deserve a trial, and they don't deserve to be imprisoned, either, because that's actually "welfare." What Gingrich is saying is here is incredibly dangerous, because he's attacking legal theory that goes back in the civilized world to the Magna Carta. And it's amazing that this kind of attack on the principles of civil liberties and fair civil justice can even be tolerated in the 21st century. If anything, Chris Wallace should've laughed at him.

Lastly, Gingrich compared complying with the rule of law -- the UN Torture Convention signed by President Reagan and ratified by the US Senate -- would be equivalent to McCarthyism:

GINGRICH: So this is -- what we’re seeing now in a very sad way is as bitter a partisan attack on the Bush people as we’ve seen since the McCarthy era. The degree that they’re putting specific people at risk for criminal prosecution is unprecedented in modern America.

So basically following the law and prosecuting those who violated it by torturing people (sometimes to the point of death) is equivalent to politicized witch hunts on people you disagree with.

If I was Chris Wallace, I would've asked Gingrich to leave by that point, because I would be running a serious news show, not theater.