Washington Babylon — November 25, 2009, 11:14 am

Carolyn Lamm: A hero in her own mind

Carolyn Lamm, president of the American Bar Association and friend of the world’s dictators, wrote a letter complaining about an article about her in Foreign Policy, which I linked to earlier. If you want to read Lamm’s letter, it is available here.

The letter is skilled nonsense, demonstrating talents Lamm no doubt has honed in working to improve the image of the leaders of Libya, the former Zaire, and Uzbekistan (in that latter country, the “rule of law” about which Lamm claims to care so passionately, in one instance, killing a prisoner by immersing him in boiling water, among countless other offenses).

But I have to give it to Lamm for nerve; she wraps herself in the flag of the American Revolution in attempting to defend her conduct:

From the earliest days of our republic, the legal profession has been obligated to ensure that the defense of the unpopular is as vigorous as the defense of the mainstream. In March of 1777, John Adams and Josiah Quincy represented the British Army Captain Thomas Preston following the “Boston Massacre,” winning his acquittal. Condemned by many for the representation, these patriots devoted their talent to ensure access to justice and due process to one accused of a heinous crime.

First, the Boston Massacre took place in 1770, not 1777; the trial took place relatively soon after, although perhaps Lamm finds it hard to believe that justice could ever be swift (not to mention fair). More important, her comparison of her work for Uzbekistan to Adams’s defense of Preston is ridiculous. The best reply came from a commenter Adrian77 at Foreign Policy, whose remarks (lightly edited) appear below:

The question is whether the ABA should choose as its president someone who chose to represent such clients– particularly in light of the fact that her client, the state of Uzbekistan, shut down the ABA’s Rule of Law program in Uzbekistan a few years ago. Would the ABA be likely to choose as its president someone whose last job was defending Milosevic, or Charles Taylor? How about a lawyer who has been representing the South African regime during apartheid? I think not.

The other point is that Lamm was apparently not simply providing legal representation but also lobbying for the Uzbek regime in Washington. Is it a legal principle supported by John Adams that every country has the right to get the best-connected insiders to shill for them in the halls of power in Washington?

The final insult is that Lamm uses this reponse to once again lobby for the Uzbek regime, attacking the [original post's] author for “maligning” the Uzbek regime–apparently by citing the country’s Freedom House rating and the facts about the Andijan massacre and systematic torture–without giving equal time to “arguments to the contrary,” which come only from the regime and its paid agents like Lamm herself.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

May 2016

Fighting Chance

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Front Runner

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Habits of Highly Cynical People

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Unhackable

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

American Imperium

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Elisabeth Zerofsky on Marine Le Pen, Paul Wachter on the quest for an unhackable email, Rebecca Solnit on cynical people, Andrew J. Bacevich on truth and fiction in the age of war, Samuel James photographs E.P.L. soccer, a story by Vince Passaro, and more

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Front Runner·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"The F.N. asked to be sent to an institution whose legitimacy it did not accept, and French voters rewarded the party with first place in the election."
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson
Memoir
I Am Your Conscious, I Am Love·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A paean 2 Prince
"And one thinks, Looking into Prince's eyes must be like looking at the world."
Photo ©© PeterTea
Article
Stop Hillary!·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"As wacky as it sometimes appears on the surface, American politics has an amazing stability and continuity about it."
Article
Plexiglass·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

Photograph (detail) by Karine Laval

Number of rats specifically bred for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:

3,000

A peanut-shaped asteroid was headed toward Earth.

The Finnish postal service announced it will begin mowing lawns on Tuesdays.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today