Aaron Harison is a U.S. Republican Party political campaign expert who is executive director of Keep America Safe (KAS). He was previously part of the John McCain presidential campaign, and on the political research team at the Republican National Committee.
Keep America Safe
Questions about Justice Department
As part of a KAS program accusing the Obama Administration of weakness in foreign policy, he told the New York Times, it was a legitimate question to ask who “chose to spend their pro bono hours defending terrorists, many of whom killed Americans."  He referred to Justice Department attorneys that had previously been part of the defense of terrorism suspects, in some cases after requests from the military bar at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Harison told Ryan Reilly of Main Justice "that private attorneys advocating for detainees raised a lot of questions because 'sometimes you can’t make the distinction' between representation and being 'soft on terror.' Harison also said the organization was more concerned that the DOJ lawyers are soft on terror than that they hold sympathetic views about al Qaeda." The same reporter observed that Harison had not mentioned that some military lawyers, including the chief prosecutor of the military commissions, that some military officers did volunteer to take on the cases of Guantanamo detainees, retired Air Force Col. Morris Davis, who served as the former chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay military commissions, volunteered first to be chief defense counsel. Referring to two of the lawyers, Davis said, “It is absolutely outrageous for the Cheney-Grassley crowd to try to tar and feather Neal and Jennifer and insinuate they are al-Qaeda supporters. You don’t hear anyone refer to John Adams as a turncoat for representing the Brits in the Boston Massacre trial...“If you zealously represent a client, there’s nothing shameful about that. That’s the American way.” Harison, however, said
"Contrary to many of the assertions being made on behalf of these lawyers, the terrorists are unlawful enemy combatants and therefore have no right to counsel under the American system of laws. There was no ethical obligation on the part of these lawyers to come to the defense of the terrorists. Attorneys who chose to spend their pro bono hours defending terrorists, many of whom killed Americans, did so voluntarily and that decision rightly raises questions about their judgment."
John McCain campaign
- Charlie Savage (4 March 2010), "Bush Official Defends Lawyers Under Attack for Detainee Work", New York Times
- Ryan J. Reilly (3 March 2010), "Spokesman: Ad Only Questioning Pro Bono Lawyers", Main Justice
- Spencer Ackerman (2 March 2010), "Ex-Chief Military Commissions Prosecutor Defends Slandered DOJ Attorneys", Washington Independent
- Stephanie Condon (5 March 2010), "Bush Officials Defend Obama Administration Lawyers Under Attack", CBS News
- Politico (magazine), 26 March 2008