Craig on the way out as WH counsel?
posted at 9:55 am on August 4, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
After a series of missteps on military and legal policy, the White House may dump Gregory Craig as its official attorney, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing sources within the administration, Evan Perez reports that high-level confabs have begun on whether to toss Craig to the wolves as a means to distance Barack Obama from key fumbles on Guantanamo Bay and interrogation memos. In essence, Craig would serve as a scapegoat to allow Obama an opportunity for a restart on military issues:
Obama administration officials are holding discussions that could result in White House counsel Gregory Craig leaving his post, following a rocky tenure, people familiar with the matter said.
Mr. Craig, the top lawyer at the White House and a close aide to President Barack Obama, has helped lead the administration’s efforts on several national-security issues that once enjoyed popularity but have since become become political liabilities for Mr. Obama.
These include the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the release of Bush administration-era national-security documents, and efforts to find legal ways to indefinitely hold some detainees who can’t be put on trial.
The decision to close the Guantanamo facility became a political problem for Mr. Obama when concerns arose that some of the detainees would be released into the U.S. and the public soured on the move.
According to the sources, the blame for these policy failures belongs to Craig, who either didn’t prepare them fully before release or didn’t work effectively with Congress. The article quotes Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican favoring the closing of Gitmo, as unhappy with the White House on its preparation for the policy. Graham blames the reversal of public opinion on the issue on the administration’s order to close Gitmo without first having a plan for doing so, and walking through a number of options with Congress and the public that enraged people, especially this week as the White House seemed to accelerate its efforts to get the project back on track.
However, the problems seen in the list of issues with Craig didn’t come from the White House counsel. They came as the natural consequence of asinine policymaking, and that starts and ends with Barack Obama himself. Craig didn’t decide to issue an executive order closing Gitmo without a clue how to do it; Obama did. Craig didn’t make the decision to release only a small portion of Bush administration interrogation documents; Obama did, and in that case Eric Holder probably had more to do with that decision than Craig. The same applies for the pursuit of indefinite detention for war detainees, which returned Obama to the Bush policies and angered the Left.
Presidents traditionally jettison close advisers as a means to deflect criticism, but that usually applies to advisers with actual policymaking power. Firing his attorney might make for a couple of interesting headlines, but it doesn’t make any sense for a sacrificial lamb on policy or on execution of it. Obama would do better to stop creating his own problems by committing to unrealistic and senseless policies in the first place.