No, America, There Ain’t No Sanity Clause…
posted at 8:10 pm on July 12, 2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh
…His real name is Attorney General Eric Himpton Holder, Jr.:
“You have the responsibility of enforcing the nation’s laws, and you have to be seen as neutral, detached, and nonpartisan in that effort,” Holder says. “But the reality of being A.G. is that I’m also part of the president’s team. I want the president to succeed; I campaigned for him. I share his world view and values.”
These are not just the philosophical musings of a new attorney general. Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do.
O frabjous day. Callooh. Callay.
But “brutal interrogation practices?” Oh yes, we all know what that means: making terrorists stand while being questioned, the horrific “attention grab,” even putting a detainee in a box with a — caterpillar. Even so, we all know which particular “brutal” tactic Newsweek’s Daniel Klaidman has in mind… the sadistic application of hydrogen hydroxide to the flesh of immobilized victims.
But won’t this drag Barack H. Obama’s administration into a confrontation it really doesn’t want while it’s trying to gain bipartisan approval of an ambitious domestic agenda? Perhaps so; but that’s just the price Gen. Holder must pay for keeping our honor clean:
While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama’s domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. “I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president’s agenda,” he says. “But that can’t be a part of my decision.”
Before we progress, I must hasten to reassure readers that there is no prejudice or partisanship about Mr. Klaidman or his employer; in fact, it would be hard to find a more objective, unbiased source than Newsweek… as can be seen here:
Alone among cabinet officers, attorneys general are partisan appointees expected to rise above partisanship. All struggle to find a happy medium between loyalty and independence. Few succeed. At one extreme looms Alberto Gonzales, who allowed the Justice Department to be run like Tammany Hall. At the other is Janet Reno, whose righteousness and folksy eccentricities marginalized her within the Clinton administration. Lean too far one way and you corrupt the office, too far the other way and you render yourself impotent.
See? The piece criticizes both Left and Right equally: Reno was simply too idealistic, honest, and decent for the job — while Gonzales was a corrupt, murdering, torturing thug. Honestly, what could be fairer?
Perhaps only Holder himself. In the article, Klaidman gathers his courage together and dares to ask about Holder’s role in pardoning fugitive financier Marc Rich — after Rich’s wife donated scads of money to the Clinton library and the Democratic Party… a fact which, we must admit, Klaidman fails to mention in the article. But surely this was only due to him being understandably reluctant to rake a dead horse over the coals.
He does, however, elicit the most important point: Despite approving the Marc Rich pardon (over the objection of just about every career prosecutor at the Justice Department) — and despite Holder’s previous position as Bill Clinton’s and Rahm Emanuel’s sock puppet in the DoJ — Holder was completely innocent of any wrongdoing in that affair. He wasn’t a crook, like his bosses; he was just a naïf, an inanimate object batted hither and yon by the machinations of others… a political shuttlecock, according to his wife, Sharon Malone:
When I ask Malone the inevitable questions about Rich, she looks pained. “It was awful; it was a terrible time,” she says. But she also casts the episode as a lesson about character, arguing that her husband’s trusting nature was exploited by Rich’s conniving lawyers.
(Those cunning linguists who connived on behalf of Rich would of course include Irv Lewis “Scooter” Libby… and we all know how evil and corrupt he is. Clearly, that completely exonerates Holder of any responsibility or accountability.)
I think there really is a very good chance that Holder will finally pull the trigger, that he’ll appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush’s Brain Karl Rove, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, CIA Director George Tenet, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, DoD General Counsel William Haynes, Jay Bybee of the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, John Yoo of the DoJ’s OLC, and a cast of thousands — of CIA interrogators and American military personnel.
Else, why employ Newsweek to resurrect an issue that had already died away? Why raise the Left’s hopes into the stratosphere again, if you only plan to dash them in the end like Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football? Heck, doing that might decisively turn the Democratic base against the One, so they sit out next year’s congressional elections. Surely Holder wouldn’t want that!
But General Holder has faith in the fairness and forgiveness of the American people; he believes that when the public hears the full perfidy of the Bush torture regime — trickling water on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s face, which even the anti-war Left has compared to the Chinese Water Torture… except that our worthy Chinese brothers could never have been as cruel and inhumane as the Bushies were; slapping the faces of top members of al-Qaeda; and… that caterpillar incident that still gives Gen. Holder and President B.O. the willies — there will be a “a groundswell of support for an independent probe.”
Oh, wait; my mistake. That’s not what Holder thinks now… that’s what he thought back in April, when he first strongly hinted that a criminal probe of the previous administration was in the offing. Didn’t quite pan out back then: When the “torture memos” were released, the public reacted with emotions that ranged from a shrug from the huge bulk of the population — to misplaced, admiring praise for interrogators’ ingenuity in protecting America from a follow-on attack after September 11th, 2001.
Of course, that last ugly reaction was from charter members of the same vast, right-wing conspiracy that shot down Hillary Clinton’s previous attempt at putting all medical care in America under strict government control; led the Swift Boat Vets’ hideous slanders and libels against the greatest war hero of the Vietnam holocaust, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 95%) — imagine, accusing Kerry of bearing false witness against his fellow Vietnam Veterans! — and even the same VRWC that stole both the 2000 and 2004 elections.
But I digress. Let’s just forget that such bloodthirsty ghouls even exist within America. Even so, the rest of the population signally failed to rise up as one with torches, forks, and knives when they learned about the atrocities the previous administration visited upon guests who had not even been convicted in a civilian criminal court. After the torture memos were released…
Holder and his team celebrated quietly, and waited for national outrage to build. But they’d miscalculated. The memos had already received such public notoriety that the new details in them did not shock many people. (Even the revelation, a few days later, that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and another detainee had been waterboarded hundreds of times did not drastically alter the contours of the story.)
But that was then, this is now. Perhaps nobody was particularly outraged by the fiendish devices we used upon those who (supposedly) carried out the 9/11 attacks; but that was back in April, when President Obama had sky-high approval ratings in every poll. (Well, almost every. At least several.) Perhaps people were just so happy that America had finally, finally elected an African American president, thus was no longer the most racist country on the face of the Earth, that they just couldn’t muster a bad emotion or a discouraging word about anyone… not even against the Bushies.
Surely now that voters are losing confidence in Obama’s economic plans, having grave doubts about his bipartisanship, starting to worry that he’s dismantling the very intelligence policies that have kept us safe for the past eight years, getting nervous that Barack H. Obama may be out of his depth (or his mind), and increasingly convinced he’s on a madcap quest to turn America into the Netherlands — which may be on the verge of becoming a Moslem state in a generation — surely with such terrifying and stomach lurching danger on all sides, voters will turn with a great sigh of relief to the much easier to understand and much more urgent task of putting all the top officials of the previous administration in prison, for the crime of going overboard in protecting American citizens (without the slightest regard for the rights of jihadis).
Yes, this time everything will be totally different. This time, the mass of men and women from sea to shining sea will be filled with revulsion at the suffering of the waterboarding victims — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and several thousand American military volunteers during SERE-school training. (The latter don’t count, however, because they’re cruder, less well educated, and were probably going to be stuk in irak anyway; the al-Qaeda detainees are sensitive plants, and must be treated more kindly than American grunts and SEALs.)
But politics will surely follow policy. Seeing the administration at last turn its sites on the real enemy we face in these parlous times — George W. Bush and his rampaging Republicans — ecstatic voters will rally behind the Obamacle, as he restores America’s reputation, repairs relations with our traditional allies (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, the United Nations, China, North Korea), and makes Americans finally feel clean again. This will translate into a Democratic landslide in 2010, bringing FDR-like control of Congress, and the president’s reelection two years later — followed, the year after that, by the swift and emphatic repeal of that pesky 22nd Amendment.
See? In the end, surely Attorney General Eric Holder will discover that he can do the righteous thing, while at the very same time advancing the political fortunes of the One We Have Been Waiting For. (As in, “Just wait until your father gets home, you nation of cowards!”)
Who says you can’t eat your cake and have it, too?
Cross-posted on Big Lizards…