Three strikes and you’re out, Mr. Holder

Robert Morrison Senior Fellow, Family Research Council
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Attorney General Eric Holder should be preparing his resume. He ought to be joining the exodus of congressional lame ducks who have been shown the door by incensed voters.

Strike One: Mr. Holder argued for closing the prison facility at Guantánamo Bay. His boss, President Obama, even issued orders to this effect in his first week in office. We’re still waiting. And there’s a good reason we’re still waiting.

That’s because Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was specifically designed to handle “high value” detainees. To most of us, that translates to terrorists — the worst of the worst. Nearly two years into the Obama administration, we’re no closer to shutting down Gitmo. Even a blogger for the liberal Atlantic Monthly wrote that Gitmo has the feel of a “yacht club.” If anything, the detainees are being cosseted and coddled there. Gitmo should stay open!

Strike Two: Mr. Holder confidently announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who planned the 9/11 attacks, the man who bragged about beheading Danny Pearl, would go on trial in a civilian court in Lower Manhattan. The attorney general apparently hadn’t bothered to clear that one with Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Schumer, or with Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo. The entire slate of New York elected officials immediately reacted to that plan. Fuhgeddiboudit, they said. It will not happen. Then, on Saturday, the Washington Post reported that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would remain in detention at Guantánamo Bay indefinitely. Isn’t this where Mr. Holder came in twenty-two months ago?

Strike Three: Ahmed Ghailani was acquitted on Wednesday of more than 240 charges in the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. Mr. Holder had assured us that civilian trials were the way to go in bringing these terrorists to justice. His utter failure to see this one through to a successful conclusion means that the entire Obama-Holder strategy for treating terrorists as common criminals has been shown to be bankrupt.

This last failure was especially painful. Hundreds of those murdered in East Africa were Kenyans. What a terrible way for our first Kenyan-American president to repay this brave and steadfast ally of the United States. We owed Kenya something better than this dog’s breakfast.

Since we cannot demand the president resign over this debacle, the attorney general is the one whose resignation should be sought. He is the top legal adviser to our law professor president. Eric Holder is the one whose assurances of success were parroted by the legal and journalistic elite. They signed on to this administration’s approach.

Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy has referred to those members of prestigious law firms who rushed to defend — pro bono — the mass murderers of their fellow Americans as “the al Qaeda bar.” It’s a stinging indictment of these highly paid people, but it’s all too true.

Thirty years ago, when Muslim terrorists held Americans hostage in Iran, Newsweek’s sensible liberal editor, Meg Greenfield, wrote about the kind of American who is forever seeing the “other side” of such conflicts. If they were missionaries put in a kettle by a cannibal chieftain, Miss Greenfield wrote, they would go out of their way to see it from the cannibal’s point of view.

With a new majority in the House of Representatives chafing to take the oath, we need hearings to determine how many of those top appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice are members of that al Qaeda bar. We need to know just what kind of advice our hapless attorney general has been receiving — and from whom he has been receiving it.

Those would all be excellent questions to ask of whomever Mr. Obama selects as a successor for Eric Holder. For now, the drumbeat should be muffled, to be sure, out of respect for the honored dead. But it should be an insistent drumbeat nonetheless. And it should drum Eric Holder right out of office.

Robert Morrison is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council.