Friday, January 22, 2010

Why is Eric Holder in charge of our war against terrorists?

More and more it seems that this administration's battle against terrorists is being run by Eric Holder. What has really solidified this conclusion is the question that went around this week as senators tried to find out who had authorized turning Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Christmas undie bomber over to civilian authorities instead of over to intelligence officials. When the four top administration officials on national security and intelligence all told the Senate this week that none of them had been consulted in that decision, senators started pressing to find out who had made that decision. After stonewalling for a day, Robert Gibbs admitted that it was Eric Holder who made that decision.

Byron York summarizes other key decisions that Eric Holder has made regarding how to treat captured combatants.
It was Holder who made the decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a criminal trial in New York. It is Holder who has expressed his desire to grant full American constitutional rights to foreign terrorists. It is Holder who is leading the administration's sputtering effort to move some Guantanamo inmates to the United States. And it is Holder who is apparently cutting other parts of the government out of crucial terrorism decisions like the treatment of Abdulmutallab.

"These days, all roads lead to the attorney general," says one well-placed Republican source in the Senate. "They seem to have aggregated quite a bit of power inside Main Justice." The problem is, the Holder Justice Department appears to be handling terrorism issues from a defense-attorney perspective, and doing so without the input of the government's other terrorism-fighting agencies.

That was the message of Wednesday's testimony from Blair, Leiter, Napolitano, and Mueller, all of whom were out of the loop on the Adbulmutallab decision. Their accounts left a number of Republican senators shaken; as the GOP lawmakers see it, the decision to read Abdulmutallab Miranda rights was a dreadful mistake, one that could have serious consequences down the line. There should be some accountability.
The Department of Justice is protesting that they got useful information from Abdulmutallab before Mirandizing him. Apparently, they don't think that there is any more information that the guy might have. Eric Holder should have to explain why he thinks that. And why there was no consultation with the heads of our intelligence before he made that decision.