In his Washington Post column Gerson analyzes the prosecution of Ahmed Ghailani:
Under Holder's influence, American detainee policy is a botched, hypocritical, politicized mess.
The case of embassy bomber Ahmed Ghailani – the only Guantanamo Bay detainee the Obama administration has brought to trial in the United States – was intended to increase public faith in civilian prosecutions. But a terrorist hugging his lawyers in victory can't be considered a confidence builder.
Days before the Ghailani verdict, the White House admitted that Mohammed, because of massive, public resistance, would not be seeing the inside of a Manhattan courtroom anytime soon. "Gitmo," one official told The Washington Post, "is going to remain open for the foreseeable future."
Where do these developments leave Holder, for whom failure is not only an option but a habit? A recent profile by Wil Hylton in GQ magazine attempts to put his tenure in the best possible light – the lonely, naive man of principle undone by politics. But the portrait is unintentionally devastating. Holder clearly views the war on terrorism as a distraction. "The biggest surprise I've had in this job," he told Hylton, "is how much time the national security issues take."
|Not an actor portrayal. Actual endorsement by Janet.|
The rest of Gerson's column is worth reading. I like it's bipartisan conclusion:
Obama seems to be realizing – gradually, reluctantly – that applying the rules of war in the midst of a war does not destroy the credibility of the rule of law or encourage terrorist recruitment. But his public inability to admit this shift seems to be leading to the worst of possible outcomes.
In all likelihood, Mohammed won't be tried in a civilian court. But Obama's progressive allies would revolt against a military tribunal for the killer of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl and the mastermind of Sept. 11. So Mohammed is left in legal limbo. This, in its own way, does seem at odds with the rule of law – a prisoner condemned to detention without trial because a president cannot admit he was wrong.
How does Obama back down and accept a tribunal? He could begin by appointing an attorney general who understands the requirements of national security. Some on the left believe Holder should resign out of principle. Some on the right believe he should leave because he is out of his depth. Such bipartisanship should not go to waste.