Thursday, March 12, 2009

Facts Are Stubborn Things

There's some hand-wringing (or worse) among conservatives now that Tony West has been named to head the Civil Divison of the Justice Department.

It's true that West defended American Taliban John Walker Lindh. As columnist James Lileks puts it:

Tony Ward is the President’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Division. If you want to know how far we are past 9/11, there’s your answer: John Walker Lindh’s defense attorney is going to work for Justice. I’m not saying he wouldn’t do a perfectly competent job.

It just seems like one of those things that might have stuck out, once upon a time.

It's fine that it sticks out, but it's not a reason to automatically tar and feather the guy. It may be a sign of character. Don't forget, John Adams was one of the defense attorneys for the British soldiers accused of murder in the Boston Massacre, yet he wasn't seen as a bad guy. He was a principled man. Now, maybe Mr. West is not a man of principle, but you can't make that case based solely on who he chose as a client.

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