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.

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