Sunday, November 30, 2008

Obama's Attorney General Pick

I wasn’t sure at first what to think about President-elect Obama’s selection of Eric Holder as nominee for Attorney General of the United States. Frankly, I don’t remember him from the Clinton administration. But then I read Andrew McCarthy’s take on him at The Corner, (“Opposed to Holder without apology”), ripping Holder for his role in the Clinton PardonFest. I have tremendous admiration for McCarthy, and since he speaks as a former Justice Department insider (he prosecuted the Blind Sheikh and, atypically of DOJ terror prosecutions, won), I give his opinions that much more weight.

Now I see that the Arab American News likes Holder, and for all the wrong reasons. Speaking for Osama Siblani’s newspaper is up-and-coming jihadist mouthpiece, Tarek Baydoun, whom we’ve notice before calling for, among other things, the "national unity" of the Muslim nation. Baydoun sings Holder’s praises, cementing my negative view of Holder in the process. (“Obama's Attorney General pick encouraging to Arabs, Muslims and all Americans”).

Baydoun is an example of the heights that can be reached in opinion-writing when a writer is unfettered by either fact-checking or moderation. As an Osama Siblani disciple, Baydoun subscribes, or pretends to subscribe (sorry, I instinctively credit all law students with crass ambition), to the Muslim Gulag narrative, whereby, (goes the narrative), each morning every Arabic resident of East Dearborn wakes--on a good day--to face daily checkpoints, body searches, and harsh interrogation, and--on a bad day--a simple trip to the bakery is as likely as not to end in summary arrest, deportation, waterboarding, transport to Gitmo, or disappearance without a trace.

As I believe I may have mentioned before, as a West Dearborner who has to drive through East Dearborn to get to work, I have to allow myself extra time to plod through the countless black marias blocking traffic as they round up hapless Muslims innocently on their way to wire money to their freedom-loving relatives abroad.

As Baydoun tells it, this systematic destruction of the civil liberties of Arab Americans will be the worst stigma of all of the Bush administration, above and beyond, as he so temperately describes it, “the failures on all fronts of the Bush administration.”

Baydoun is heartened that Obama picked Holder who, in June, long before he knew he was going to have to have to face Senate confirmation for Attorney General, made a speech to the American Constitution Society, “a progressive organization of lawyers and law students,” where:

Holder blasted the Bush administration's policies as "immora[l]." Holder said the policies weakened the government's position at home and abroad in its fight against terrorism. Holder described the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II and the Supreme Court decision upholding it as "one of the darkest moments in American constitutional history." He said that although the government did not do the same to American Muslims after 9/11, much of the action it did take was "excessive and unlawful." Holder said "Our government authorized the use of torture, approved secret electronic surveillance of American citizens without due process of law, and denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of enemy combatants. I do not question the motives and patriotism of those responsible in implementing these policies. But this does nothing to mitigate the fact that these steps were wrong when they were initiated, and they are wrong now… We owe the American people a reckoning."

When you write like Baydoun, who actually was allowed to publish to readers
of the Arab American News that “hundreds of citizens” have been “arbitrarily and illegally detained without trial in prisons inside and outside of the United States” [and] “transferred abroad for torture” [!], you’re not going to be able to resist the boundless nonsense of Holder’s seamless non sequitur from the Japanese internment of WWII to the current domestic war on terror: although the government did not do the same to American Muslims after 9/11, much of the action it did take was ‘excessive and unlawful.’”

I don’t expect a Democrat President to nominate an Attorney General of my exact liking. But at least he should know the law, (especially the Constitution, e.g., the legal history of habeas corpus being extended to enemy combatants), and have a decent measure of coolness in his thinking. Based on the excerpts of the speech he gave the ACS, Holder appears to lack all of these.

Personally, in view of the incoming Obama administration's sudden discovery of the lethal intentions of our jihadist enemies, I look forward to watching Holder try to explain to the Senate Judiciary Committee how he intends to keep Americans safe from domestic terrorist plots while intending to "reverse course" on effective methods, perfectly legal methods, that have been successful these last few years to thwart terrorism. Sure, it's fun to make gratuitious swipes at the Bush administration when you don't imagine you might be part of the next administration. Now Holder can try being the AG who suggests to President Obama, whose re-election campaign started November 6th, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed deserves release under habeas corpus.

No comments: