Jon Stewart Blasts Liz Cheney Ad, Spars With Bush Speechwriter
By Ryan J. Reilly | March 9, 2010 11:18 pm

On The Daily Show on Tuesday night, comedian Jon Stewart took on the group that published an ad last week targeting Justice Department lawyers who previously represented Guantanamo detainees.

“Who’s in the al-Qaeda seven? It’s an innocuous question, like ‘who’s in the Jackson Five?’” joked Stewart.

Numerous top lawyers, including conservative former members of the George W. Bush administration, have denounced the ad put out by Keep America Safe, an organization founded by Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard.

Despite the tone of the advertisement, Keep America Safe maintains that it is not accusing DOJ lawyers of being disloyal and is concerned only about transparency.

“You would not believe how obstinate the Attorney General can be,” said Stewart, setting up a clip of former Attorney General John Ashcroft testifying about why he refused to turn over documents.

“We believe that to provide this kind of information would impair that ability of advice-giving in the executive branch to be candid, forthright, through and accurate at all times,” Ashcroft said in the clip.

“I’m sorry, that was the wrong Attorney General, that was John Ashcroft, back when transparency was the thing that abetted the enemy,” joked Stewart.

Stewart poked fun at complaints about the lack of transparency, noting that the names of the lawyers were all available online and just required someone to do the leg work.

“Ah-ha! So the names are out there, but not in list form! And doesn’t collating and alphabetizing distract Keep America Safe from their real job — of making Keep America Safe commercials?” Stewart said.

Author Marc Thiessen and Daily Show host Jon Stewart (Comedy Central).

The interview segment of the show featured former Bush administration speechwriter Mark Thiessen, author of the new book “Courting Disaster. How the CIA Kept America Safe and how Barack Obama is Inviting the Next Attack.”

Stewart and Thiessen spared over the ad, which Thiessen defended in his Washington Post column.

“Where was the moral outrage when fine lawyers like John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Jim Haynes, Steve Bradbury and others came under vicious personal attack?” Thiessen asked in the column. “Their critics did not demand simple transparency; they demanded heads. They called these individuals ‘war criminals’ and sought to have them fired, disbarred, impeached and even jailed. Where were the defenders of the ‘al-Qaeda seven’ when a Spanish judge tried to indict the ‘Bush six‘? Philippe Sands, author of the ‘Torture Team,’ crowed: ‘This is the end of these people’s professional reputations!’ I don’t recall anyone accusing him of ’shameful personal attacks.”

On The Daily Show, Thiessen tried to shoot down the arguments that lawyers have an obligation to defend even the worst criminals.

“John Adams actually represented people who had been accused of crimes. There’s a vast difference between representing someone who has been accused of a crime — everybody gets a lawyer under the Sixth Amendment if you’ve been accused of a crime,” said Thiessen. “The people in Guantanamo Bay have not been accused of crimes, they are being held as enemy combatants in a time of war.”

Stewart shot back, chiding Thiessen for having a selective memory about the history of terrorism in the U.S.

“It’s a very selective world that you live in, and it must be very lovely to live there, but things are not so clear cut,” said Stewart.

Thiessen complained at the end of the interview that he had not been given enough time to speak.

“I can’t get my points out on the air?” Thiessen said. “I think you’re talked right through me.”

The full unedited interview, which runs at almost a half hour, was posted online. But even after that period, Thiessen and Stewart we no closer than when they started.

“We’re not so different, you and I, except completely,” Stewart said.

Videos segment and of the interview, in three parts, are embedded below.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Hurt Docket
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Marc Thiessen Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Marc Thiessen Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive – Marc Thiessen Extended Interview Pt. 3
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

This story has been updated.

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