Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Eric Holder's Defining Moment

Eric Holder said that trying Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the man who planed and executed the 9/11 attacks, would be the "defining event" of his time as attorney general. Well, it sure was. Against all logic and public opinion he announced in his first year that the Obama administration would try KSM in civilian court in New York. It was the Democrats who put the kabosh on that plan. And Holder is not happy. After two years trying to find a way around Congress's limitations blocking funding for civilian trials for Guantanamo detainees and blocking Holder's desire to bring KSM to New York, he had to announce yesterday that KSM will be tries by a military tribunal at Guantanamo, just as the Bush administration had planned.

Holder cast the blame on Congress for blocking his naive plan. Well, remember. That was a Democratic Congress, with a filibuster-proof Senate that told Holder to forget about this nonsense.

As the WSJ notes, it's time for Obama to acknowledge that his demonization of President Bush's policies in fighting the war on terror.
He was right about the "defining" part. His tenure has now been defined by one of the most overwhelming bipartisan Congressional policy repudiations in history.

Mr. Holder's third twist was to assert that he and President Obama still intend to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. But if that ever happens, Mr. Holder will be long gone. Yesterday's Gitmo climb-down came after the Supreme Court rejected appeals from three Guantanamo detainees challenging their indefinite detention. If no other country will take them, the detainees have nowhere else to go.

KSM and his fellow murderers will now be tried by military commissions of the kind that President George W. Bush proposed in the earliest days of the conflict formerly known as the war on terror. Someone should write the headline: Holder vindicates Ashcroft, as in Mr. Bush's first AG. Or how about: Current State Department Counselor Harold Koh vindicates John Yoo, the much-maligned Bush Justice Department official whose views on Presidential power have also been increasingly adopted by Team Obama.

Somehow we doubt we'll hear the same moral denunciations we once heard about Mr. Bush's policies. The Europeans are mute about Guantanamo, and Newsweek hasn't come up with any more pseudo-scoops about Gitmo guards desecrating the Quran. Mr. Holder made clear he's not about to apologize, much less thank his predecessors for their foresight, but we suppose his vindication of Guantanamo is enough.
All that moral preening that Obama made when he was on the campaign trail has been revealed to be just that - a posture he adopted without much thought about the ramifications of his policy pronouncements. And we can now indeed define Eric Holder by his deserved failure.