-Benjamin Wittes, on Attorney General Eric Holder’s recently announced decision that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (and other detainees charged with planning the 9/11 terror attacks) will be tried in military commissions instead of civilian Article III courts, a reversal of his earlier decision. In his prepared statement, Holder suggested that his decision was essentially forced upon him by Congress, which acted to block any civilian trial in the United States. Adam Serwer reported that Holder was “visibly disappointed and even angry” during the press conference. I have some sympathy for Holder, but none for the Obama administration. This is a battle (for prosecutorial discretion and the rule of law) that it chose not to fight.
It’s times like this that I recall a great post by Jack Balkin in which he noted:
“Obama has played the same role with respect to the National Surveillance State that Eisenhower played with respect to the New Deal and the administrative state, and Nixon played with respect to the Great Society and the welfare state. Each President established a bi-partisan consensus and gave bi-partisan legitimation to certain features of national state building.”
Yeah, 2008 was a long time ago. I think the NY Times said it best: Cowardice Blocks the 9/11 Trial.