Durbin attempts to cover up Jackson’s ‘war crimes’ complaint

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) delivered a lengthy defense of Ketanji Brown Jackson on Wednesday in reference to questions from Republican senators about Jackson’s work representing a Taliban member as a public defender in 2005.

Durbin’s monologue on the third day of Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing specifically referenced the charges of the senses. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Cornyn (R-TX) who Jackson called then-President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield. “war criminals” in a habeas corpus petition for Guantánamo Bay detainee Khi Ali Gul.

“Just let’s ask – I don’t know you well, but I was impressed with our interaction.” You have been courteous and charming. Why on earth would you call Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and George W. Bush “war criminals” in a legal brief? It seems so out of place to you,” Cornyn asked Jackson on the second day of the hearing.

At the time, Jackson said she didn’t “remember that particular reference” and said she “represented [her] customers and arguing.

“I had no intention of denigrating the president or the secretary of defense,” she continued.

On Wednesday, Durbin spoke for several minutes, citing several corporate media fact checks on Cornyn and Graham’s accusation before giving Jackson the chance to answer the question once again. Durbin said:

Yesterday Senator Graham said you went too far in calling the government’s citation a ‘war criminal’ in charging a terrorist. Later, Senator Cornyn asked Judge Jackson, and I quote, “You called the Secretary of Defense and the President of the United States war criminals. Why would you do something like that?

Durbin then cited a CNN fact check, which does not deny Jackson accused Bush and Rumsfeld of “war crimes,” but says the GOP senators “omit important context.”

“As I noted yesterday and repeated this morning, these accusations do not hold. A CNN fact check said: Graham and Cornyn omitted important context. Specifically, neither mentioned that Jackson’s war crimes allegation involved torture. Additionally, Jackson did not explicitly use the phrase “war criminal”.

Durbin then read from a New York Times fact-checking, which said the allegation “is a distortion and lacks context.” He continued:

the New York Times went on to say, “Judge Jackson did not specifically label the former president and secretary of defense ‘war criminals’. In 2005, she was one of several attorneys to sign four habeas corpus petitions essentially boilerplate on behalf of Guantánamo Bay detainees who claimed that the US government had tortured the men and that such acts “constituted war crimes”.

The Democratic senator then picked up a third fact check from the owner of Jeff Bezos Washington Postwho noted that Bush and Rumsfeld were named in the petitions “because they have to be named to remove procedural hurdles”, and that Barack Obama was later named in the petitions when the administration changed.

“But the bigger point is that Jackson was acting as an advocate for the inmates — and in her role as a public defender,” Durbin said, still quoting the To post. “And one of the foundations of the American justice system is that even the most reviled suspected criminals are entitled to a vigorous defense.”

After apparently giving Jackson the ammunition she needed to defend herself, Durbin asked the judge if she wanted to comment on her “statement.”

“Well, senator, I would just say that public defenders don’t choose their clients, yet they have to provide a vigorous defense.” It is the duty of a lawyer. And as a judge now, I see the importance of having lawyers who make arguments, who make allegations,” she replied.

She continued:

In the context of a habeas petition, particularly early in the process of responding to the horrific attacks of September 11, lawyers have helped the courts assess the permissible scope of executive authority by presenting arguments, and we have been appointed public defenders. We had very little information due to the confidential or classified nature of much of the file, and as appellate counsel it was mandatory to file habeas petitions on behalf of my clients.

Earlier in the hearing, Cornyn had criticized Durbin for choosing to “editorialize and contradict the point made by this side of the aisle [Republicans]… “after each series of interrogations.” Corni said:

My tongue was, I asked if she called them “war criminals”, and she told you under oath, “no I didn’t” – though the record is as clear as it gets that she accused them of “war crimes”. Now I don’t understand the difference between calling someone a “war criminal” and accusing them of “war crimes”. Maybe in another foreign language that I frankly don’t understand – maybe that would make sense, but not in accordance with the common understanding of the English language.

Cornyn then told Durbin that he didn’t think it was “appropriate” for the president to try to defend Jackson against all questions from the GOP when she “does a pretty good job of defending her own position and answer the questions”.

Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on Twitter.


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