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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.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”