Wednesday, December 03, 2008


When he introduced his new national security team the other day, the team that includes prospective Attorney General Eric Holder, President-elect Obama said he values the different opinions from team members. It turns out he’d still get different opinions even if he were introducing Holder by himself.

As we noted the other day, Holder blasted the current administration in June in a speech to the American Constitution Society. The AP provides some more details on what he said:
"We must close our detention center in Guantanamo Bay," Holder told the American Constitution Society this summer. "A great nation should not detain people, military or civilian, in dark places beyond the reach of law. Guantanamo Bay is an international embarrassment."

Holder added that he never thought he'd see the day where the "Supreme Court would have to order the President of the United States to treat detainees in accordance with the Geneva Convention."
(“Obama AG pick defended Guantanamo policy”).
But in January 2002 he said this in a CNN interview when asked
whether terrorism suspects could be held forever, Holder
responded: "It seems to me you can think of these people as combatants and we are in the middle of a war," Holder said in a CNN interview in January 2002. "And it seems to me that you could probably say, looking at precedent, that you are going to detain these people until war is over, if that is ultimately what
we wanted to do."

Just weeks later, Holder told CNN he didn't believe al-Qaida suspects qualified as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

"One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located," said Holder, the former deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration. "Under the Geneva Convention, you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people."

Holder said it was important to treat detainees humanely. But he said they "are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war." He also downplayed criticism that prisoners were being mistreated.
How to explain the difference? Probably by noting that Holder had no partisan advantage at stake in January 2002, and was giving his honest opinion, informed by common sense, his sound legal judgment, and his knowledge of history. The anti-Bush, lose-your-mind, "Close Gitmo!" bandwagon hadn’t gotten rolling yet. Once it did, the people piling on were soon ditching unneeed baggage like common sense, history, and, in the case of anti-Bush lawyers, their legal judgment.

Last June, after years of the Left brainwashing themselves about the war-crime status of detaining some of the the world's most dangerous human beings, Holder simply told the ACS what he thought they wanted to hear. He never imagined, back then, that he might face nomination as AG in an Obama administration, where he then would have to explain his two opposing points of view. (This hardly says much for his ability to hold principled positions).

Now, I expect Holder will swing back closer to the Bush position, with which his 2002 views are identical.

Craven pandering to friendly audiences during speeches at the high tide of Bush Derangement Syndrome is one thing. But when you’re boss is the President and you know he’ll be blamed for any boneheaded stunts you pull, stunts like recommending setting bloodthirsty jihadists loose on U.S. soil, you might be more likely to try getting your feet back on the ground.

This is like that joke that goes, "the older I get, the smarter my parents seem." Faced with the gravity of a struggle they minimized and ridiculed—and made worse--when they were in the opposition (disloyal opposition), the Democrats now realize their political success—even their survival—depends on not being the party that expeditiously loses the terror war on every front. What formerly they ridiculed as patently stupid because Bush wanted to do it, and he’s patently stupid, is now obvious and sensible to Democrats. That's because they’re the ones now who have to make the hard choices.

The strange thing is that common sense may actually be returning to Washington, whence it’s been banished throughout the long, universal Democrat tantrum that erupted in 2002-2003 in response to Bush’s early successes. Bush never lost his cool, but his sensible policies were sabotaged and damaged—as they were meant to be—by having to be implemented and defended in the teeth of a howling gale of insults, spittle, and treason. That’s the best idea the Dems had for beating him—the political equivalent of staving off defeat in checkers by flipping over the board and all the pieces.

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