The Corner

Shocked, Shocked by Eric

Lots of indignation out there about Attorney General Holder’s appointment of a prosecutor to go after the CIA. Disgruntled folks include many who voted to confirm him despite the politicized Rich pardon and the politicized FALN pardons and the politicized recommendation against an independent counsel for Gore’s indefensible campaign-finance violation, etc. Lots of quiet, meanwhile, from the Republican cheering section that helped steer the attorney-general to confirmation. Put me in mind of something I wrote weeks before that happened:

Here’s Holder, as a top Obama adviser, in a speech delivered only six months ago [i.e., June 2008], in the comfy “progressive” confines of the American Constitution Society’s annual convention:

Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution.

Holder inveighed that the tactics employed by the Bush administration — the very ones [Holder’s Republican supporters] have championed in explaining why we haven’t suffered another 9/11 — were “needlessly abusive and unlawful practices.” The measures these former prosecutors had rallied behind were, according to their friend Eric, a demonstration that we had “lost our way with regard to [our] commitment to the Constitution and to the rule of law.”

As far as Holder was concerned, Bush’s initiatives had not only “diminished our standing in the world community” but “made us less, rather than more, safe.” An Obama administration, he promised, would dramatically change all that. And Holder ominously proclaimed to the roar of the anti-Bush crowd, “We owe the American people a reckoning.”…

[Michael] Ratner is the head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a Marxist, rabidly anti-American organization. When it is not representing al Qaeda and suing the government in U.S. courts, CCR is busy overseas, trying to persuade Germany, Spain, or some willing international tribunal to prosecute key Bush administration officials (including some in the Justice Department) for purported war crimes. Ratner is thrilled with Obama’s Attorney General selection. And why not? He provides the rationale on his blog (which is called “Just Left — News and Analysis from the frontlines of the progressive movement,” with new entries posted just under a cute mock-up of hooded “torture” victims trooping past the Capitol). When Ratner looks at Holder, he doesn’t see an ideal “Eric” newly dedicated to protecting this nation from jihadists; he sees the Holder we’ve actually experienced. When he listens to Holder, he hears not what he wants to hear, but the things Holder actually says about the Bush administration’s response to terrorism. From this, he deduces that Holder’s elevation means “the day of reckoning is fast upon us.” And keep reading his blog for the diatribe that follows about Bush torture, Bush spying, and Bush illegal detentions. It sounds positively Holderesque.

Not to worry, though. I’m sure Eric will be a superb AG. At least we better hope he’ll be. With the wind of influential Republican support at his back, his confirmation seems assured…. Holder will push through Obama’s shuttering of Guantánamo Bay, which Holder calls “an international embarrassment.” He’ll determine which terrorist detainees there “need to be released,” as he put it in his June speech (I suppose that will spare Obama the headache of pardoning them later). And, pressured by hard lefties like the ones he enthralled at the American Constitution Society, Holder’s Justice Department will press ahead with its “war crimes” and “domestic spying” investigations. Even if it’s just a cynical show and no one is ever actually prosecuted, our intelligence agents will get the unmistakable message: Doing your job, protecting the country, means you better be ready to hire a good Washington lawyer.

Of course, we’ll complain. And after we do, once they’ve caught their breath from laughing, Obama acolytes will deadpan: “What are you complaining about? Eric is only doing exactly what he said he’d do back when you guys were calling him ‘the right man at the right time to protect our citizens in the crucial years ahead.’” And they’ll be right.

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