I don’t have any proof of that, of course, but I find it absolutely incredible -as in, “I don’t believe it”- that he didn’t tell the President about his decision to move Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York City for trial in a federal court until after the President was in the air, heading for Asia:
Second, we have learned since the announcement that Holder apparently did not consult Obama before deciding to bring the Sept. 11 terrorists back to Ground Zero. No further evidence is necessary that Holder regards the war on terrorism as a law enforcement matter. In a decision with obvious national security implications, the attorney general consulted with neither the commander in chief nor the secretary of defense. He employed a process that might be more appropriately applied to the trial of a mafia kingpin or a serial killer.
And what a process. In an interview on Jim Lehrer’s NewsHour, Holder described consulting with Justice and Defense department prosecutors and staffers. The rest of the interview deserves to be quoted at length:
Lehrer: Did you run [the decision] by President Obama?
Holder: Just informed him of the decision….
Lehrer: So you just told him what your decision was; you didn’t say, “What do you think about it, Mr. President?”
Holder: Nope. Told him last night, or had relayed to him what I was going to do last night while he was on Air Force One on his way to Asia.
Lehrer: Did you talk to anybody outside the government?
Holder: I talked to my wife —
Lehrer: Yes? Okay.
Holder: — about what she thought. And I actually talked to my brother, who’s a Port Authority police officer who served —
Lehrer: Oh, is that right? Yes.
Holder: — in New York, New Jersey, and who lost friends and colleagues on 9/11 in the towers. And I talked to them about what — was it appropriate to bring it in New York, the symbolic significance of it, the possibility of getting a good and fair, detached jury.
Michael Gerson, the author of the article, rightfully calls this “embarrassing.” And he also justifiably excoriates Holder for his miserable, incompetent performance in front of a Senate committee explaining his decision and rips him a new one for his mind-boggling decision to give jihadists a public stage in Manhattan, not to mention the security risks such a trial poses for the city
But, I’m sorry, I don’t agree with Gerson’s acceptance of Attorney General Holder’s story. The man may not give a damn about voting rights, he may be corrupt as hell, he may be a far-Left ideologue bent on a witch hunt against the CIA, but he is not so stupid as to be unaware of the political risks to his boss, the President, in any move to try KSM in civilian court – especially just blocks from Ground Zero. It’s inconceivable. Does he really expect us to accept his word that he only consulted his wife and brother, and then only about jury selection and symbolism?
How dumb does he think we are?
No. In my opinion, he consulted the President before this decision was announced, and Obama gave his blessing, with the understanding that Holder takes the fall if (and when) something goes wrong. Already the polls are running massively against this move, and Obama’s own numbers are tanking, probably partly as a result of this. Holder is the designated sacrificial lamb donkey. He’ll take the heat for this decision, but the real responsibility is President Obama’s.
AFTERTHOUGHT: I suppose it is possible that Holder is telling the truth about how he made the decision and when he told Obama, but what does that tell us? First, that Holder really is incredibly stupid, if this is true. Anyone in the corridors of power in DC who could not see the ramifications of this move has a cranial density far surpassing that of lead. Second, it means President Obama is both incompetent and weak. His chief law enforcement deputy makes a decision of this magnitude without any significant consultations with other departments or the president, and then blindsides Obama with it after he’s off on a major foreign trip? And Obama didn’t fire him on the spot?? Is he too weak to fire his own Attorney General or too clueless to see the mess Holder dumped on him? Regardless, if Obama was not consulted and didn’t override Holder on the spot when he found out, it makes the President look very bad.
Thus, I still lean toward the first explanation (Obama knew and approved), if only because the implications of the second are in their own way scarier.