In yesterday’s NRO editorial, I find it simply astonishing that Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, for example, represented Osama bin Laden’s confidant Salim Hamdan in the Supreme Court case that derailed the commissions until Congress reversed the Court. Harold Koh, the attorney Obama has nominated to be State Department legal adviser, filed an amicus brief in behalf of the detainees in the same case. Attorney General Eric Holder’s old firm has represented at least 18 enemy combatants. Because of the thick web of relationships between terrorism suspects, Holder, and other like-minded lawyers he has recruited, the Justice Department has been forced to set up elaborate protocols for recusing prosecutors, including the attorney general himself, from various national-security cases.
And a vitally important point is that the leading driver of terrorist recruitment is successful terrorist attacks. That is what convinces the fence-sitters that radical Islam can win, and that Osama bin Laden is correct when he argues that the United States is a weak horse that will retreat when things get tough enough. The counterterrorism policies of the Bush administration prevented new terrorist attacks and assured the world’s bin Ladens that the United States was committed to their defeat. We hope that assurance still holds; if it does, it is only because President Obama, for all his unseemly disparagement of his predecessor, has picked up the tools George W. Bush left him and made them his own.