The Holder Hangover

January 31, 2010

The Holder Justice Department has made several serious mistakes in its handling of jihadi detainees: treating the Detroit Pantybomber as a common criminal with constitutional rights; ordering a trial in Federal court for the plotter of 9-11, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad; and the end of the CIA interrogation program are among several. Power Line’s Scott Johnson looks to the source of these errors and find it not, where many would put it, in the Attorney General’s office, but in President Obama’s misguided view of constitutional rights:

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania during the presidential campaign in June 2008, Barack Obama addressed the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision granting Guantanamo detainees the right to challenge their confinement through habeas corpus proceedings in federal court. Obama asserted that the “principle of habeas corpus, that a state can’t just hold you for any reason without charging you and without giving you any kind of due process — that’s the essence of who we are.” He explained:

“I mean, you remember during the Nuremberg trials, part of what made us different was even after these Nazis had performed atrocities that no one had ever seen before, we still gave them a day in court and that taught the entire world about who we are but also the basic principles of rule of law. Now the Supreme Court upheld that principle yesterday.”

Obama’s comments derive from what I facetiously call “the higher wisdom” that fueled his campaign and that is now operative in his administration. Attorney General Eric Holder perfectly reflects it.

In designating the mastermind of 9/11 and his co-conspirators who are detained in Guantanamo for trial in federal court in Manhattan, cloaking them with the rights of American citizens under the Constitution of the United States, Holder sought to give them their “day in court.” He also sought to “t[each] the entire world about who we are but also the basic principles of rule of law.”

The only appropriate response to Obama’s campaign comments on Boumediene is: “Not true.”

Scott then proceeds to dismantle the President’s use of the Nuremberg hearings as a precedent, exposing the supposed “constitutional scholar’s” ignorance of legal history. From this fundamental error, that war criminals and enemy combatants should be treated as ordinary defendants with the full protection of the Bill of Rights flows every other dumb decision Obama and Holder have made.

Sadly, there are many.

And they will come back to haunt us.

RELATED: Scott links this in his piece, but I wanted to point out here an excellent essay by Thomas Sowell that describes the administration’s decision to try terrorists in criminal court as insanity.