Attorney General Holder -- You have some 'splaining to do ...
To Charles Grassley, a senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the questions seem pretty simple. How many of the political appointees now in charge of terrorist detainee issues at the Obama Justice Department were, not too long ago, lawyers and activists working on behalf of those very detainees? Who are they? Have they removed themselves from cases involving their former clients?
The questions are particularly critical now, as Attorney General Eric Holder struggles to find a place to hold the trial of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. If Holder goes ahead with a KSM trial somewhere in the United States, we’ll likely see other Guantanamo inmates being tried on the mainland, too. “It’s a dangerous thing to bring them here,” Grassley says. “But if they’re coming, I want to know who made the decision, and when the decision was made, and I want to make sure that it’s being made by people who have independent judgment and don’t have a foregone conclusion about it.”
So far, Grassley is having a hard time getting the information he wants. His problems started on Nov. 18, 2009, when Holder appeared before the Judiciary Committee and Grassley asked him to reveal which department lawyers had represented which detainees. Grassley is still waiting for an answer.
“He said something like, ‘I have to think about it,’ ” Grassley says. “He must still be thinking about it two and a half months later.”
Specifically, Grassley asked Holder about lawyers like principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal. Katyal is well-known for representing Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni who learned jihad from Osama bin Laden himself and served as bin Laden’s driver and bodyguard until November 2001, when he was captured in Afghanistan, ultimately ending up at Guantanamo. Katyal organized a defense team for Hamdan, arguing that the accused terrorist only worked for bin Laden because he needed a job and didn’t really know much about al Qaeda’s activities. When questioning Holder, Grassley pointed to an article in the National Law Journal that reported “Justice officials say Katyal will still be able to work on detainee-related maters.”
Grassley also asked about Jennifer Daskal, who joined the Justice Department after working on behalf of Guantanamo detainees at the organization Human Rights Watch. In the past, Daskal, who has no prosecutorial experience, has lamented the U.S. military policy of allowing Gitmo inmates only one book in their cells at a time, and has fretted that a detainee who is a “self-styled poet” was given a pen or pencil only for short periods. Now, Daskal reportedly works on detainee issues at the Justice Department.
Such prior representation “creates a conflict of interest problem,” Grassley told Holder as he asked for a list of lawyers and cases. Holder replied that he would “consider” Grassley’s request but never specifically said he would provide the information.
So Grassley waits. On Monday, a department spokesman said, “The Justice Department is well aware of the request and will be providing a response to the senator shortly.” But lawmakers, made wary by long experience trying to get information out of various administrations, always wonder whether a “response” will actually be an “answer.” We’ll see.
In the meantime, other unanswered questions about the Justice Department’s terrorism policies are piling up on Holder’s desk. There are still questions about the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed decision, as well as the administration’s misbegotten effort to close Guantanamo. And a bipartisan group of senators wants to know who decided to cut short the interrogation of accused Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, granting him full American constitutional rights in the civilian justice system and killing the chance to gain potentially valuable intelligence about the al Qaeda group that sent Abdulmutallab to the United States on his deadly mission.
Attorney General Holder is, obviously, working on orders from the White House. Barry wants this war over. He wants us virtually surrendering the battlefield to the terrorists. He wants the terrorists to give up on us provided we give up on them. And we call holder "clueless."
The decisions made by Holder, through orders from Barry, is endangering America at a time when we can't afford to be wrong. A terrorist attack on American soil right now would not only destroy the country's economy (evidenced by the near collapse in the wake of the 9-11 attack). but it would seriously sap the nation's morale, which isn't exactly at its highest point right now. You think people are miserable now? Add an attack that kills 3000+ again, and see how people feel then.
From September of 2001 to January of 2009, America didn't see an attack the caliber of 9-11. Do the math, folks. That's seven-plus years where we weren't digging bodies out of rubble, or worrying about another potential attack. In the days after 9-11, no one I know of didn't think we were "safe." The people I know of from that time swore we were going to be hit again, and soon. (Those I still know and see regularly today thank god Bush was president, and that he was on offense in this war. They're not too confident in Barry and his crew.)
But we weren't. We weren't because we had a president and an administration that understood the gravity of this war, and the tenacity and determination of our enemy. This group of clowns running the show now don't have a clue. The naivete and cluelessness this administration is showing is simply inviting our enemies to hit us again, and even harder than before.
Holder had better have some answers, and satisfying ones, soon. If not, expect the GOP -- should they retake one, the other, or both Houses of Congress in November -- to apply pressure to Barry to fire his attorney general. For those who don't think this can happen, think again. It was Congress's pressure to President Bush that ultimately resulted in the resignation of Don Rumsfeld. Congress's repeated calls, coupled with those of current and past senior military officials lead to his resignation, filed on 6 November 2006, and accepted by President Bush on 8 November 2006.
Holder could be facing similar calls for his head on the heels of the midterms, but the calls are already out there that he needs to resign or be fired. We join that chorus. He isn't serving America. He's serving his own ambitions and beliefs, and they don't coincide with the ideals of America. They're as narcissistic as Barry's are, and he thinks he's correct. In fact, he's dead wrong. Let's all hope that in November that there is a serious change in how the government is run, starting in the Congress, and going up the chain through the Executive branch.
Posted at 10:27 AM on 2 February 2010